The Loaf and Ladle is flooded. Water is pouring in through the basement windows. Sandbagging is not possible here as the foundation sits in the river. A sign in the window proclaims 'the worst ever.'
The Exeter River crested late last night, so it was daylight before the locals made it to the north bank, cameras in hand. The water's roar was audible even a block away from the String Bridge. The town's Emergency crew members were out as were the men from the Highway Department.
Sandbags were piled up on the north side of the river, opposite the line of restaurants on Water Street. One of the Highway Department men explained the town's procedure with sand bags. Bales of the empty bags are kept at the headquarters near the trestle north of Swazey Park. When a threat such as this flood is perceived, they are filled and moved to the site in danger. Town residents can get some bags of sand if they have a problem on their property by driving out to the department headquarters. If a town employee is present, they will usually help load them.
There are dams with flood control gates all along the Exeter River. As areas are threatened, towns allow a greater volume of water to flow to avoid flooding. That's fine for the head of the river, but as you near the basin, the runoff accumulates exponentially. Exeter is situated at the end of the river, just before it spills over the last dam to become part of the wider Squamscott river. From there, it gathers more streams until it runs into Great Bay, eventually reaching the Atlantic at Portsouth. Click here for map of The Exeter River's path to the Atlantic Ocean.
One man who was watching the water flow into the Loaf and Ladle explained his mother lived just east of the NH 27, 111 bridge. He had been at her house relighting her furnace which the water had extinguished. This was at 7:30 a.m. The water had receded about 2" from its highest reach.
The sun is out today and we've been promised clear skies at least until, you guessed it, the Weekend.
The Loaf and Ladle is one of Exeter's more popular restaurants. Another sign boasts having won 'Best Soup' six years in a row. The honor is deserved as they can always be counted on to have several steaming pots of assorted chowders, vegetable soups, including French onion with the baked cheese on top, and exotics like Mulligatawny. The latter sounds like it should be Irish. It's not. It's an Indian soup based on chicken, rice, and curry - not too hot, not too bland. Good.
The Loaf in their name pertains to their reputation for some of the healthier, heartier fresh breads in town. If you order, remember that one slice is a full inch thick, close to 5" long and 3" high. That's approximate, but still 'a lotta dough' (volume, not price.) It's the good chewy, crusty kind.
Moving west along Water Street, the restaurants and shops are less affected by the flood, although 11 Water Street, another popular eaterie, was closed early yesterday afternoon. Today, the sky is blue, the temperature is rising up to the 50s we're told, and the people of Exeter will wecome a drying-off period.