LOWELL (CBS) - By all accounts, this weekend brought the worst flooding ever along Wentworth Avenue in Lowell. "Not here, nothing like this," exclaimed neighbor Ruby Duhamel Cook. The water started rising Sunday night after a weekend of heavy rain.
"I used to live in this neighborhood and I've never seen it like that. Never. Ever," said Lonnie Lacasse. Lacasse could barely see as he drove through the area Sunday night. "It was pouring when I came through here," he recalled. The next thing he knew, his Chevrolet SSR was up to its wheel wells in water. "When I got out of the car, it was up to my waist," he said. He called for help, and left his stalled vehicle right where it was.
By morning, the water had risen even more. Emergency crews went door to door by boat to check on neighbors like Cook. "Fortunately for me I thought I would evacuate if I was told that I had to but the firefighters said no, keep my eye on the furnace and said it would be okay," she said. She had flooding in her basement, and says she knows what's made this situation worse in her neighborhood. "I think a lot of it has to do with the beavers. They've built up over here so much," she said. "I saw like three different beavers last night. Huge, huge beavers."
Mark Young, Director of Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility, also blames beavers and the dams they build. Because the animals are protected, though, he had to call in the state for help. "We'll have to get the proper authorities in to trap the beavers and then we'll have to take the dams down so that we don't have backups like this," he said. The backup that flooded Wentworth Ave, he thinks is due in part to a beaver dam in a culvert that allows the neighboring wetland to drain. "Doing what they do naturally and the consequences are what you see here," Young said pointing to the standing water.
One consequence of the flooding is Lonnie Lacasse's pride and joy. "It's my baby," he said. His SSR sat submerged for around 20 hours until the water had gone down enough to have it hauled away. "I had a couple of tow trucks come and they said they weren't going down there until the water was gone," he said.
Several houses were impacted by the flooding. The water got close, but didn't get inside a nursing center nearby. A Wastewater crew stayed on the street into the night Monday to keep cars from driving through.
MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON
for more features.