Kent officials hold press conference to discuss upcoming plan to break up the ice jam

KENT - Officials in Kent have been busy monitoring the Housatonic River every day since Saturday to track the possible changes of the ice jam.

A press conference was held Wednesday night at the Kent Volunteer Fire Department to address possible alternatives to tackle the issue within the next few days. They said the best solution is to wait and see as it depends on the forecast.

“A jam of this size and magnitude for so long is very rare,” said State Representative Brian Ohler of the 64th District.

He said it has been several years since Kent saw an ice jam this serious.

“Typically, we see in the normal thawing season of late March and April, we have a gradual thaw where temperatures are predictable, they’re sustainable upwards above freezing in the 40s and 50s. We usually don’t have a problem. Sometimes some minor flooding, sometimes some ice jam buildup but what we’re seeing now is a result of that deep freeze we had after Christmas. We had subzero temperatures and then we had three days of 60-degree weather and three inches of rain.

There have been several options discussed on how to break up the ice including machines and possibly dynamite. However, officials wanted to stress those options are not finalized and the ice could move in an unpredictable direction in the next few days.

“The road is still closed from route 7 to route 341. It’s just there is so much cleanup to do and once cleanup is completed, DOT needs to check the integrity of the road to make sure it wasn’t compromised at all and make sure it’s safe for vehicles to pass,” added Ohler.

Britt Westergard, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Albany, New York said her biggest concern now is the warmer weather headed our way which can melt the ice and can lead to a second round of flooding.

“The ice is sitting in place, so any kind of second round of rainfall, the good news is that we don’t have nearly as much snow to melt off and any kind of heavy rainfall by a snow melt event could lift the river up and certainly cause renewed flooding issues,” said Westergaard.

Both Ohler and Westergaard also wanted to warn everyone about the scams that have been going around. There are GoFundMe pages set up by people pretending to be Kent residents asking for money.

They reminded everyone to be extra careful and to make sure the party they are donating to is legitimate.

FOX61 was told the Kent Center School is expected to reopen Thursday because they are on a high elevation. As for the Kent School, they are looking to reopen Sunday, but with the possible precipitation headed their way, that may change.