RUMFORD — On Tuesday under overcast skies and a steady drizzle, officials with state and federal emergency management agencies toured damaged roads with Rumford and Mexico officials.

Joe Emerson of Winthrop and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Boston, and Beth Barton of the Maine Emergency Management Agency in Augusta, said they only came to get rough estimates of the destruction caused by heavy rains in late June.

“We’re only looking at sites to determine what it will take to get them back to what they were,” Emerson told Rumford EMA Director Richard Coulombe, Rumford Public Works Superintendent Andy Russell, Mexico Road Commissioner David Errington, and Mexico EMA Director Gary Wentzell.

They also wanted to view repair work. Much of the damage in Rumford has been repaired, although some roads have yet to be repaved.

One newly-paved road in Mexico must be dug up and repaired, however.

“At this stage, we can’t talk about any mitigation,” Emerson said. “We’re here to see if there’s enough damage to justify a presidential declaration of disaster.”

Oxford County damage estimates must total $150,000 to trigger a disaster declaration while the threshold for Maine itself, Emerson said, is roughly $1.8 million.

He said Oxford County is already well over that mark, thanks to the state-owned South Rumford Road bridge that washed out. Its damage is estimated at $500,000.

Russell and Coulombe took Emerson and Barton to Milton, Martin, Swain, and the new Industrial Park roads, and High Street; Errington took the pair to view Ledgeview and Thompson Hill roads, both of which are off Route 17.

Andover Road in Rumford, which was severely eroded by two back-to-back flash floods, is a state-owned road.

Damages viewed at the sites on Tuesday ranged from undermined culverts and roads to washed out drainage ditches and gravel roads.

Russell said paving work that began Monday on a section of Swain Road where twin 4-foot diameter culverts were undermined by Bean Brook, was completed Tuesday.

On High Street, rainwater undermined a section of the steep road in Rumford’s Virginia neighborhood, causing pavement to collapse into two sinkholes.

A 6-inch diameter sewer pipe also had to be replaced. The section has yet to be re-paved.

Other lesser-damaged Rumford streets include Eaton Hill, Pennacook and Hall Hill roads.

In Mexico on Ledgeview Road, Errington said the late June storm took out one edge of the steep and winding road from top to bottom.

It also swept away asphalt curbing and rippled the pavement put down last fall, rushing past newly installed catch basins.

Both Emerson and Barton said the damaged side of the road will have to be dug up and repaired.

On Thompson Hill Road, Errington said high water washed 300 feet of one side of the road into the woods.

“We pulled up as much as we could and then brought reclaim in to shore it up,” he said.

He pointed out another 3-foot-wide washout farther down the road.

Additionally, 500 feet of shoulder on a section of Back Kingdom Road washed out and has since been refilled, and Wentzell said pavement was washed away in three spots of a 500-foot section of Poplar Hill Road.

“The ditch went out and it took a couple feet of hot top with it,” he said.

Barton and Emerson were one of six teams assessing damage on Tuesday. Others worked in Oxford County from Norway to Greenwood; Lincoln, Waldo and Knox counties; and solely with the MDOT.

“And it’s still coming down,” Emerson said of Maine’s rain pain.

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During Tuesday’s state and federal assessment of road damage in Rumford, Rumford Public Works Superintendent Andy Russell points out erosion from recent heavy rainfalls on the new Industrial Park road that took out gravel fill along Route 108. With him from left are Beth Barton of the Maine Emergency Management Agency, Rumford Emergency Management Agency Director Richard Coulombe, and Joe Emerson of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Mexico Road Commissioner David Errington points out where the damage to Ledgeview Road starts for Federal Emergency Management Agency representative Joe Emerson, who came by on Tuesday afternoon to assess damages from heavy rains in late June that caused flash flooding in Mexico and Rumford.


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