Flooding prompts officials to shut down Route 7 in Kent

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KENT -- Recent ice jams have caused many to flock to Kent to take in the views.

"It's like a circus, its like an attraction," says Bob Teleski of Kent.

An area of Connecticut usually popular for attracting leaf peepers in the fall, now draws in a new kind of crowd.

"I’s crazy," says Andrea Nivolo of Kent. "It’s drawn a lot of locals and a lot of you know… ice peepers we call them!"

Those ice peepers coming from near and far to catch a glimpse of the frozen phenomenon along the Housatonic River.

"It's pretty cool but unfortunately a lot of the locals have suffered," says Nivolo. "It's caused not only an ice jam but a traffic jam in town as well."

Some say tourists have been so captivated by the views that they are oblivious to their surroundings.

"People are so interested in photographing, they don’t realize they are standing in the road," says Teleski.

Though many say it is a must see, officials say it is causing some serious concerns as well.

"Unfortunately, the rain that we saw yesterday, and the thawing, it just spilled over the banks," says State Representative, Brian Ohler.

Kent was still under a state of emergency on Wednesday. The ice jams have been a problem for the past week and a half but now flooding concerns have resurfaced causing a portion of Route 7 to be closed down yet again, this time from Route 341 to Bulls Bridge Road.

"It's gone on in January before but what happened this year was it froze up right away again," says
Kent's Road Foreman, Rick Osborne. "Everything that was here, instead of going down stream, stayed here."

Locals say they are used to seeing the river ice over and flood but never to this extent.

"The water comes over the road, and most of the time you can drive right through it, it's only and inch or so deep, once it gets deeper than that they start to shut the road, and divert the traffic around like they have now," says Teleski. "But I think this is the first time I’ve seen it actually freeze on the road."

For now, residents say they are trying to embrace their new claim to fame.

“I been here for 64 years, a lot of changes in 60 years," says Osborne. "A lot of people here last weekend, it was almost like a leaf weekend."

From leaf peeping to ice peeping, officials say the influx of tourists was a positive boost for the local economy.

“There has been a new kind of development with the town as kind of a ice jam tourism," says Ohler. "It’s not something we predicted, usually foliage is our big tourism."

Peeping aside, officials warn that this remains a serious concern.

"Avoid the area if you’re not a Kent resident right now," says Ohler. "With the thawing and the melting overall we are still kind of unsure of how the ice jam is going to react, we are not too sure where a certain break might happen."

Officials add that they are in constant monitoring mode, and will continue to inform the public as the ice jam concerns hopefully melt away.

Stay with FOX61 for additional updates.