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Low-lying flood plains along the Connecticut River hit hardest in flooding

After heavy rains around the region in recent days, the Connecticut River was moving fast Tuesday afternoon.

In western Massachusetts low lying flood plains were hit hardest, like Northampton and Easthampton along the oxbow, visible from I-91.

David Boutt, a hydrologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said what's unique about this event is that it wasn't associated with a tropical storm system like Irene in 2011 or large snow melts. It's been wetter than normal and that contributed to the flooding.

Standing Tuesday at a riverbank in Sunderland, Boutt said if the current projections from the United States Geological Survey projections hold, "the Connecticut River here in the stretch between the Holyoke dam and Turners Falls [will] level off and fall into Thursday — but will still be fairly high."

Gauges maintained by the USGS between Montague and Holyoke indicate the river remains at flood stage — but as of Wednesday morning, most points were leveling off or starting to recede.

This was too late for some farmers already affected by the flooding. In an email newsletter and Facebook post Tuesday evening, Mountain View Farm called it "pretty much the worst case scenario."

"Both our fields on the Mill River and the Connecticut River are underwater and will be unsalvageable," the farm said. "This is catastrophic for the farm as these fields total around 45 acres and not only contained our summer CSA produce, but our fall and winter crops as well."

Meanwhile, flooding of the Mill River Monday in Williamsburg submerged several houses in a few feet of water, and flooded large portions of Grow Food Northampton's fields downriver in Florence.

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey visited Williamsburg Wednesday morning to survey the damage, along with state emergency management officials.

Sam Hudzik contributed.

Disclosure: Mountain View Farm is an NEPM underwriter. The newsroom operates independently.

Updated: July 12, 2023 at 6:09 AM EDT
This story was updated Wednesday morning to include new river level information and flooding from area farms.
Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."
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