February 19, 2019
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Weather service watching for river flooding, thunderstorms, hail

BROWNVILLE, Maine — Members of the state’s congressional delegation will be in Brownville on Monday to tour areas devastated by last weekend’s flooding and officials from the National Weather Service still are watching for expected flooding of the Mattawamkeag River and severe thunderstorms possible Friday night.

The National Weather Service in Caribou still has a flood warning in effect for Penobscot County and a hazardous weather outlook in effect for the rest of the state. The Mattawamkeag River at Mattawamkeag, swollen by rain this week, was near 14.1 feet Friday afternoon. Flood stage is 13.5 feet. Flooding is expected along Bancroft Road between Wytopitlock and Danforth, a weather service official said. The river is expected to fall below flood stage Sunday morning. No significant damage is expected.

Thunderstorms that could contain gusty winds and possibly small hail were expected to move through the state Friday evening, which prompted the hazardous weather outlook.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins had anticipated visiting Brownville on Friday to get a closer look at damage from recent heavy rain and flooding. Her Senate duties kept her away Friday and she will arrive Monday instead.

Called one of Maine’s most unusual weather events, the storm that stalled over Brownville overnight Saturday dumped at least 6 inches of rain on an area about 3½ miles in diameter within three or four hours. The storm washed out roads and the rail line in Brownville.

The flooding also contributed to the death of a 29-year-old Milo man early Sunday. Total damage and economic recovery estimates have been placed in excess of $4 million, though they are incomplete.

Collins, whose staff has visited Brownville, said she is in touch with local and federal emergency management officials.

“I know that the residents and business owners in Brownville, as well as in other towns throughout parts of Piscataquis and Penobscot counties, including Patten and Milo, are suffering with the damage caused by recent storms and they are still working hard to pick up the pieces,” Collins said in a statement. “My staff toured the damage earlier this week, and throughout this week, they and I have been in close touch with federal, local and state officials receiving regular updates on the situation, damage assessments and recovery efforts.”

A time for the visit had not been announced.

“Mainers have once again proven that resilience is in their blood,” she continued. “I stand ready to assist in any way I can to maximize any federal assistance that could be available to help reduce the burden on the town and its residents.”

Rep. Mike Michaud also will be in Brownville on Monday to tour the flood damage with Town Manager Matt Pineo.

Aroostook County still is mopping up from five days of steady rain that began June 23.

Over the past five days, more than a foot of rain fell on Patten, according to the weather service. Houlton picked up almost 9 inches of rainfall, while Knowles Corner recorded more than 7 inches.

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