RUMFORD — Residents of town streets damaged by Tropical Storm Irene's heavy rainfall on Sunday must wait until next week for possible relief.
Selectmen Jeremy Volkernick's attempt Thursday night to have the town highway crew reinstall the blown-out culverts on Swain Road as a temporary fix, died for lack of a second from Selectmen Jeff Sterling or Jolene Lovejoy or Brad Adley.
Chairman Greg Buccina was absent, so Vice Chairman Sterling ran the meeting.
To get a temporary fix installed to alleviate inconvenienced taxpayers, Volkernick motioned that selectmen declare a critical circumstance exists.
That failed, because Sterling, Lovejoy and Adley said they wanted to wait until next week for Public Works Superintendent Andy Russell to gather information about installing a box culvert.
To do that, however, Russell said a hydrology study must be done to determine what size box culvert will handle potential flows.
Rumford's charter then requires such a project to go out to bid, which would take weeks.
“Yes, people are inconvenienced, but that's what disasters do,” Lovejoy said, while sympathizing with several residents in the audience who are adversely affected by the damage.
“Don't think we're dragging our butts, we need to do this right,” she said.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said that if the two culverts are reinstalled and fill added, but pavement is not placed on top of it, the same thing could happen again.
Russell said the town crew could do the temporary fix that Volkernick wanted done in three to four days, but getting the section paved could take a while depending on their suppliers' availability.
Worries were expressed about more heavy rains hitting the area in less than two weeks.
Holyoke Avenue resident Kim Cocca wanted a temporary fix.
“If we get more rain, what's going to happen?” she asked. “Are we going to get stranded?”
Another resident said the town may have to wait two to three weeks for paving. He urged that selectmen approve a temporary fix.
“I'd be pretty irate if I lived on the other side of that brook,” the man said.
Due to the flooding damage, residents who live on upper Swain Road must travel around Isthmus Road to reach town rather than drive down Swain Road to Spruce Street. Emergency responders, likewise, must do the same to reach those residents.
The board decided to take up the matter again ahead of next week's wind ordinance workshop, which will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7, in Rumford Falls Auditorium.