Kent officials: Warm temps, rain help break up ice jams

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KENT -

Kent officials say the warmer temperatures and rain have been beneficial in helping to break up ice jams on the Housatonic River.

Officials say they've seen an average high temperature of about 40 degrees over the last three days, which was something they'd been hoping for to help with a gradual thaw. The higher temps, coupled with an inch of rain in the last 24 hours -- which officials say is an ideal amount -- should cause the river level to rise about 1.8 feet by Wednesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials say they're optimistic that increase will help with thawing and breaking up the ice jam to move it downstream. That's because the river level below the ice has receded almost 5 feet since last week, and officials say they need that water to make contact with the ice jam to help break it apart.

"We don't think it'll be overwhelming to the ice jam, where we might see additional flooding in low-lying areas," says state Rep. Brian Ohler (R-Kent). "We hope it's actually beneficial to moving everything south."

Officials in New Milford are also paying close attention to what's going on in Kent. The hope is that chunks of ice break into smaller, more manageable pieces when they flow downstream because Lovers Leap Gorge in New Milford is a natural choke point where things can get backed up.

At the private Kent School, work is underway to welcome back students after massive flooding forced its campus closure last Monday. Dorms will reopen on Wednesday, with classes set to resume Thursday.

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