December 13, 2018
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Downtown Bangor building floods for the second time in a week

Alex Acquisto | BDN
Alex Acquisto | BDN
Gerald Winters stands in the basement of his bookstore, Gerald Winters & Son, Wednesday morning where the water had mostly receded. His basement and his neighbors' basements at Nocturnem Draft Haus and Treworgy & Baldacci law offices, flooded for a second time on Tuesday because rainwater leaked through the sidewalk.

Basements in the Standard Shoe Store building in downtown Bangor have flooded for the second time in a week.

Asphalt used to fill the excavation site from last week’s burst pipe leaked rainwater on Tuesday, again filling the basements of three businesses who lost thousands in inventory and had just cleaned up from the last flood.

“It throws a giant question mark into the longevity of our shutdown and startup,” Gene Beck, owner of Nocturnem Draft Haus, said Wednesday.

After the first round of flooding, the damaged pipe under the sidewalk at 46 Main St. was replaced, and crews returned on Monday to lay down cold asphalt on the portion of the sidewalk that had been excavated. The sidewalk material was expected to last until the warmer months, when it would be replaced permanently with concrete.

But the cold asphalt leaked in Tuesday’s rain and ice melt, causing the basements of Nocturnem, Gerald Winters & Son bookstore, and Treworgy & Baldacci law offices to flood, again, with about a foot of water.

More, the city only recently discovered that a coal vault — a small room that once stored coal, located directly underneath the sidewalk and connected to the basement in Nocturnem — was not sealed, which made the leaking worse, City Engineer John Theriault said.

“The water district did what I asked them to do,” he said. “I didn’t think it would be an issue. I was wrong.”

The city is typically responsible for filling and sealing coal vaults with concrete when they are discovered by building owners, Theriault said.

But the cold asphalt, also known as cold patch, was “porous and the joints between the cold patch and existing sidewalk weren’t as tight,” he said, causing water to leak into the three basements.

“It wasn’t like they did a bad job, we just weren’t expecting we’d be getting all this rain and that it would be penetrating through the ground and the basement,” Theriault said.

Had the vault and foundation been sealed, Bangor Water District General Manager Kathy Moriarty said water likely wouldn’t have leaked into the basements.

“The cold patch would have worked if the foundation was sealed,” she said.

As a result, the city and water district crews will work to fill in the coal vault over the next few days, and dig out the cold patch on the sidewalk to replace it with a plastic barrier and concrete, Theriault said.

The concrete will be low-grade until it can be replaced more permanently in the spring. For now, it should be more waterproof, he said.

Still, “there is no guarantee that water won’t get into the basement after this,” Theriault said.

Workers at Gerald Winters’ bookstore had been slated to begin repairing loose sheathing on a basement wall that partially gave way last week when it was flooded with nearly six feet of water and mud, ruining many of his rare editions of Stephen King books, including one manuscript.

The additional flooding sets Winters’ attempts to reopen back even further.

“Every day that I can’t open is a day of lost sales,” he said Wednesday morning.

Beck, who lost tens of thousands of dollars in equipment and alcohol in the flood, including 7,000 bottles of beer, was preparing to have his basement sanitized and restocked.

He’s hoping for the walk-in portion of his basement, where he keeps refrigerated storage, will be restored by the end of the day Wednesday. But the fact that rainwater leaked in the basement is worrisome, he said.

“That potentially affects the viability of my downstairs, because if we put equipment down there, is rainwater going to affect that?” he said.

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Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that the sheathing on a wall in Gerald Winters' basement partially gave way. The wall did not totally collapse.

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