The town of Kent has declared a local state of emergency after ice jam flooding along the Housatonic River forced evacuations and road closures.
The fire chief confirmed local officials declared a state of emergency Monday. Roads that lead to the Housatonic River and recreational areas will be closed and residents are asked to keep their distance from the ice jam.
In a press conference Monday, State Rep. Brian Ohler (R-Dist. 64) said officials believe the ice jam is one mile long and 12 feet deep.
Flooding issues began on Saturday when an ice jam caused the Housatonic River to flow over its banks. Ohler said some of the ice came down from Vermont and Massachusetts, where they don't have floodgates to hold it back.
First responders had to use boats and payloaders to rescue residents from their homes when flood waters made it impossible for them to leave. Fire officials said six people were evacuated from three homes.
No one was hurt and the displaced residents all found places to go. It is unclear how much damage was done to the homes.
Route 7 was also closed in both directions between Route 341 and the Bulls Bridge Saturday. As of Monday morning, the road remained closed and local officials said it could be days before it reopens. Emergency responders are waiting to see what happens when the ice melts.
Denise Davis, who lives right in the middle of the roadblock, described the scene.
“A lot of ice. Water’s really high, ice is really high. It’s high behind our house. The neighbor’s backyards are flooded with the ice and everything," she said.
Meanwhile, that uncertainty has led Kent School, which has already suffered minor flood damage, to send its 580 students home - 520 of which are boarded at school. Host families will take in the students who don't live nearby.
The Kent Center School also canceled classes for Tuesday amid the unpredictable situation.
The school will be closed through Sunday.
Kent School Hockey Rink surrounded by rising flood waters from the Housatonic River. Localized evacuations are ongoing. Fire/EMS/EMD/CSP are coordinating efforts. pic.twitter.com/j3lJe99sJT— Rep. Brian M. Ohler (@BrianOhler) January 13, 2018
The town remains in "wait and see" mode, hoping the water recedes.
Officials also said they are concerned about the water treatment facility in the area. It is taking in about three times the daily average intake it an evaluation will not be possible until the ice thaws and water recedes.
Ice jams and flooding were reported all across the state as the warm weather and melting snow last week caused ice to break up and swollen rivers to overflow.