June 24, 2018
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Rainstorm causes flooding, outages throughout Maine

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BREWER, Maine — Mainers were still recovering Tuesday from the heavy rain and high winds that knocked out power to thousands of residents, ripped off part of a motel roof in Brewer, and flooded low-lying areas in several counties.

Both Central Maine Power and Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. reported widespread outages Monday, which resulted in more than 25,000 customers losing power at some point.

Most of the problems stemmed from trees and limbs falling on power lines. Power had been restored in most areas by late Tuesday afternoon, but remote and hard-to-get-to areas remained without power and those outages could last through the night.

Meanwhile, about 25 occupants of rooms at the New Stable Inn on Wilson Street in Brewer were forced to evacuate after wind gusts tore off part of the roof on Monday night. It was the second time in a little over three years that part of the roof was blown off. The inn will be closed until the damage can be repaired, according to city officials.

“We had to give an order to evacuate the premises,” Assistant City Manager James Smith said Tuesday evening. “They’re going to need to have an engineer come in and do a structural analysis [of the roof]. That will allow us to see what needs to be done to bring it back to code.

“It will probably be some time before they open again,” he said.

A piece of the ripped off roof severed power to the motel and the Cozy Inn next door, located at 440 and 448 Wilson St., which is exactly what happened when portions of the same roof ripped off in late October 2006.

“It happened again,” Bushra Rana, owner of the Cozy Inn said Tuesday afternoon, adding that the electricity was returned Tuesday morning and that her 20 customers were not asked to leave.

When wind ripped off portions of the Stable Inn roof in October 2006, it created holes in the covering that leaked, said Smith and Brewer Fire Chief Rick Bronson.

“The piece that blew off four years ago hasn’t been replaced yet,” Bronson said.

Portions of the motel’s metal roof remained visibly unstable on the front side of the building on Tuesday, and damaged pieces, some that are peeled up, remained on the roof, Bronson said.

“There is some water that had come down through” the roof and is visible inside the building,” Smith said. “You can see the roof is sagging in certain places. There is certainly reason to be concerned about the building and occupancy of the building.”

City crews put caution tape up around the area to let those passing by know there are dangers, Smith said.

Leo Cookson, who answered the motel’s phone on Tuesday and identified himself as a worker, said crews were scheduled to arrive on Wednesday morning to begin removing the damaged materials. Owner Farhat Cheema was not available, he said.

“They made us evacuate” on Monday, Cookson said of the motel’s 25 occupants, most of whom pay a weekly rate. All were moved to a motel across the street and the New Stable Inn is paying for their stay, Cookson said.

Monday’s 1-3 inches of rain and wind gusts of up to 60 mph also are being blamed for a number of power outages, flooded roads and basements, and downed tree limbs, which kept emergency crews all over the state busy.

In Piscataquis County, officials planned to keep watch overnight on the Piscataquis River, which periodically flooded its banks on Tuesday.

The river exceeded the flood stage by a foot at noon when an ice jam developed in the river near Low’s Covered Bridge in Guilford, according to Tom Iverson Jr., Piscataquis County’s Emergency Management Agency director. He said the river’s flood stage is 11 feet. At noon, the river was at 12 feet but when the ice jam moved, the river lowered to about 8 feet, he said. At 6:30 p.m., the river was fluctuating between 8 and 13 feet, he said.

The river did overflow its banks off and on Tuesday afternoon but only flooded low-lying areas and didn’t affect any homes, he said.

“We’re watching it closely,” Iverson said. He added that if it reached heights that would affect any residences, officials would be alerting homeowners and possibly helping them to evacuate.

Iverson said part of the River Road in Willimantic was washed out Tuesday by the rain-swollen Wilson Stream. In addition, a section of Route 16 near Kingsbury Stream in Abbot had water over the road, he said.

Maine Forest Rangers, using electronic personal data assistants, were helping to monitor ice jams Tuesday on the Piscataquis River and on the Kennebec River for the Maine Emergency Management Agency, according to a press release issued by the Department of Conservation. An ice jam on the latter river was reported to have caused flooding to Lower Water Street in Augusta.

The wind and rain also caused roads in Brewer and Orrington to close because of flooding, knocked down a wall at a construction site in Holden, and was blamed for a number of flooded basements.

“It was just a constant parade of flooded basements and limbs and lines down,” Brewer Fire Chief Bronson said. “It was a steady stream.”

Long Hill Road in Orrington was closed on Monday evening while town crews worked to fix problems with flooding and erosion, and Brewer Landfill Closed because “the rain yesterday has made the road leading to the landfill impassible,” Dave Cote, Brewer Public Works superintendent, said in a Tuesday e-mail.

The wind also knocked down a wall at a construction site on the Main Road in Holden. Wooden framework for a wall that was going up for a structure at Granville Rental and Granville Stone & Hearth, fell on Monday night.

“I understand we had a problem with one of the temporary walls,” owner Ned Jennings said Tuesday afternoon by phone from Florida. “It was insignificant” and already had been replaced midday, he said.

Heavy rain Monday night created deep puddles in areas where drains and ditches were unable to handle the downpour, but only minor washouts were reported around Hancock County. Local road crews had dealt with most of them by Tuesday morning.

BDN writers Rich Hewitt and Diana Bowley contributed to this report.

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