BROWNVILLE, Maine — An intense line of thunderstorms dumped more than six inches of rain on this Piscataquis County town overnight Saturday into Sunday morning, washing out roads and causing the death of a motorist.
Roads in the area were beginning to reopen to local and emergency traffic Sunday evening after the heavy rainfall caused flash flooding.
Charles Bromiley IV, 29, of Milo died after driving his vehicle into a washed-out section of the road at the Milo end of Pleasant River Road, according to Milo police Chief Damien Pickel.
The crash happened at about 5 a.m., when Bromiley’s car hit a section of road, about 5 feet deep and 20-30 feet wide, that had been torn away by the floodwaters, according to Pickel.
“The force of the impact caused his death, not any kind of drowning,” Pickel said.
There were no passengers in the vehicle.
Paula Copeland, a member of Brownville’s select board, said High Street, Stickney Hill Road and Lake View Road were passable with one lane open. Upper Quarry Avenue also is passable.
Church Street remained closed, passable only to emergency vehicles “using extreme caution.” Pleasant River Road and Lower Quarry Avenue were still closed Sunday night.
One resident on Church Street had to evacuate their home because of the floodwaters, Copeland said.
Crews would continue to work to repair all the roads to the point where emergency vehicles can use them, she said.
Northwest Ridge Road, Lakeview Road and Church Street have been shut down because of the flooding.
The storms also cut off power to much of the town, Copeland said, but power had been restored by Sunday evening.
Copeland said it was too early to determine the extent or cost of damage caused by the floodwaters or how long it will take to fully open the roads.
Police and town officials set up a command center at the town office on Sunday morning and were working with the Maine Department of Transportation to reopen at least one lane of the roads that had been damaged.
“Basically we’re just asking people to stay away from those roads so the equipment can get in and out,” Copeland said.
Joe Hewitt, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Caribou, said areas that already had been “clobbered” would get little respite in coming days.
Saturday night into Sunday, “a cluster of thunderstorms formed up and stalled right over [Brownville],” dumping 6-8 inches of rain during a 6-hour window, Hewitt said.
A series of heavy rainstorms rolled through Patten overnight as well, causing flooding issues. A Penobscot County dispatcher said some bridges in the Patten area had been washed out.
“It’s still raining in the Patten area, so there’s going to be more problems I think,” Hewitt said Sunday morning.
The rain eventually stopped Sunday, but the break will be brief.
“The rainfall will start to set up again [Monday],” and will continue to fall through late Tuesday or early Wednesday he said.
Flood warnings and advisories have been posted for much of Northern and Eastern Maine.
Hewitt said forecasters are keeping an eye on the Houlton and Danforth areas as well, where 3-4 inches of rain fell between Saturday and Sunday. He said small streams and brooks could see minor flooding.
Mary Anne Fay, 44, lives on High Street in Brownville and said she watched from her porch as the water rushed down the road early Sunday morning.
“We watched the road completely break up,” Fay said. “It looked like waterfalls.”