February 20, 2019
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In spite of flood damage, it has been a ‘good week’ for Brownville, manager says

BROWNVILLE, Maine — In spite of the roads and railways that were washed out, businesses that were shut down or cut off from customers, and $4 million in estimated damage in the area, Brownville Town Manager Matthew Pineo said this has been a “good week” for the community.

“It’s renewed my faith in people,” Pineo said Wednesday afternoon.

Residents have been bringing water, cookies and other offerings to Maine Department of Transportation crews working near their homes. Katahdin Christian Church opened its doors this week to serve breakfast to workers.

There was one glaring exception, Pineo said.

Late Tuesday or early Wednesday morning, someone stole about 40 orange traffic cones that marked the edge of Stickney Hill Road.

“It’s not a major crime, but it’s an unfortunate crime when we’re trying to put a town back together,” Pineo said, adding that their removal presented a safety risk for DOT workers and anyone who drove up the road.

The cones, which are owned by the Maine Department of Transportation, cost about $36 apiece.

Work crews continued to repair roads and rails throughout the day Wednesday and Pineo said he expects all roads to reopen by Friday, just in time for travelers passing through the area on the weekend before the Fourth of July holiday.

“Roads are getting open as we speak,” Pineo said.

The manager said about 12,500 people are expected to pass through the area during the weekend and into next week on their way to concerts, camps and outdoor destinations such as Gulf Hagas.

On Wednesday afternoon, crews were working on three roads, with at least one — Church Road — expected to reopen Thursday, according to Pineo.

“They’re working for Friday at 5 p.m. to have all the roads open,” he said. “DOT’s doing such an incredible job here.”

Staff members from Republican U.S. Sen Olympia Snowe’s office will visit Brownville on Thursday to meet with small-business owners from the area and tour their facilities, according to Pineo. Snowe representatives will be available from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the town office.

“This weekend’s storm has caused tremendous damage for transportation infrastructure, homeowners and a number of small businesses in several Maine counties,” Snowe said in a statement Wednesday. “I am sending members of my Small Business Committee staff to the Brownville region to speak with local business owners and residents impacted by flooding, and offer information on assistance that may be available to them.”

Pineo said the town also was waiting for Gov. Paul LePage, who toured the area Tuesday, to sign a declaration of emergency so the town can seek aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The last such disaster declaration from Maine came in September 2011 after Tropical Storm Irene hit the coastline.

Aside from the cleanup efforts, it’s business as usual in town, Pineo said.

Roadside trash was picked up this week. The cemetery was mowed, according to Pineo. On Thursday, Brownville residents will vote on the school budget referendum.

The manager thanked town employees, many of whom had just 14 hours of sleep between Saturday and Wednesday, and credited town residents and business owners for their determination.

“We haven’t shut down; we’ve kept things going,” Pineo said.

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