Weekend deluge swamps roads, homes in Stockbridge, Lee

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Cleanup continued Tuesday from Sunday's deluge that flooded parts of Stockbridge and Lee, with up to 5 inches of rain falling in a two-hour period.

The heavy downpours washed out numerous gravel driveways, flooded streets and basements and even soiled several in-ground pools within the two communities.

The flooding was so severe in Stockbridge — much of the town center was under water — that municipal officials declared a state of emergency. The declaration allows town officials to begin documenting the cost of the municipal cleanup and repairs in order to seek some financial reimbursement through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

By late Sunday afternoon, MEMA representative Pat Carnevale was touring the storm damage areas with local emergency officials, according to Town Administrator Jorja Ann Marsden.

"The rain was coming down hard and sideways and other places [in town] had hail," Marsden said on Tuesday.

The intense, isolated storm began hovering over Stockbridge and Lee around 1 p.m. Sunday, letting up after 3 p.m. The storm stalled overhead, continuously pounding the two South Berkshire communities for an extended period, according to the National Weather Service office in Albany, N.Y.

Stockbridge measured close to 5 inches of rain, and Lee had 4.25 inches at its water treatment plant, according to Public Works Superintendent Christopher Pompi.

Stockbridge Police Chief Darrell Fennelly reported part of Glendale Road was closed, as was Route 183 in the village of Interlaken, where flooding impacted an ongoing culvert project near the Massachusetts Turnpike overpass.

"Maxymillian construction was up there shortly after the storm working on it," Fennelly said.

In addition to flooded basements on Church Street and other homes in Stockbridge, the bottom floor of the town office building on Main Street had standing water that was mopped up before it could do any damage to equipment in the Police Department and other municipal offices.

High winds associated with the storm brought down numerous trees and tree limbs in both communities, one striking a home on Orchard Street in Lee causing minor damage.

The flooding wasn't as widespread in Lee, but did its share of damage, according to town officials and residents.

A driver escaped unharmed after a car stalled in floodwater underneath the turnpike overpass on Fairview Street, according to Lee police. Chief Jeffrey Roosa reminded motorists of the slogan "Turn around, don't drown" when approaching flooded roads.

Several Lee roadways were washed over with debris from gravel driveways and hillsides, especially the already deteriorating Forest Street that leads to Goose Pond.

The Lee Highway Department, with plenty of help from Gary J. O'Brien Property Services, cleared the leaves, stones and mud from the pavement, according to Pompi.

"The road is now buckled in spots," he said.

A few homeowners reported their in-ground pools — just opened during the holiday weekend — were awash in landscaping material and soil from floodwaters rushing down embankments on their property.

Jeff and Janice Keenan, of Franklin Street in Lee, had to drain their pool after Sunday's heavy rains, literally digging out the pool bottom.

"I lifted full five-gallon buckets over the side and handed them to Janice and she dumped them out," Jeff Keenan said.

The couple had to do a second, not-so-intense cleaning following Monday evening's thunderstorm that dropped up to another inch of rain on Lee. By mid-afternoon on Tuesday, the Keenans were refilling the pool — hopefully, they said, for the last time this year.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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