PORTLAND, Maine — Heavy flooding throughout northern New England was blamed for at least one fatality as officials Wednesday urged residents in all three states to avoid water-covered roadways and watch out for overflowing rivers.
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said damage from recent flooding was wide-ranging and warned that Lake Champlain was nearing flood stage Wednesday.
About 45 roads were closed over a 24-hour period from Tuesday into Wednesday. Officials say a bridge also washed out in Johnson.
The National Weather Service warned of widespread flooding along the Passumpsic River in Lyndonville and St. Johnsbury Center.
“It really was unfortunately wide-ranging damage,” Shumlin said.
Most rivers around Vermont were receding Wednesday and expected to drop below flood stage, but overnight snow and ice made for some rough travel.
The Maine Warden Service said 74-year-old Paul Oliver, of Caswell, was swept down a flooded culvert after going out to move his truck Tuesday night. His body was found by wardens around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Maine experienced flooding statewide and was likely to remain under a flood warning until late today or early Friday, state emergency officials said.
In New Hampshire, Fish and Game officials suspended the search for a missing man, citing rising waters in the Smith River in Bristol. Officials say Aaron Hoyt, 32, is presumed drowned after leaping into the river Monday. Fish and Game Lt. James Kneeland said Wednesday the river had risen 9 feet since Tuesday and was predicted to rise 14 feet more by this morning.
Northern and central Vermont also saw a flood warning.
“The melting snow helped to get the rivers high to begin with, and the rain kind of pushed them right over,” said Tom Hawley, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service.
Cold and dry weather in the forecast for the rest of the week should help abate further flooding, Hawley said.
New Hampshire officials closed roads in several towns, including Conway and Plymouth. Flooding had started to recede by mid-day Wednesday, officials said.
Associated Press writer Lisa Rathke in Montpelier contributed to this report.
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