Derek Taber, standing, president of Envision Rumford, addresses members of the River Valley Flood Relief Task Force on Wednesday at the Rumford Town Hall. He announced the community betterment group is raising money to help homeowners affected by the Dec. 18 flood that caused widespread property damage. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — Six weeks after a powerful wind and rainstorm swept through Maine, a nonprofit community betterment group is collecting money to help Mexico and Rumford homeowners who need immediate help while waiting for federal disaster relief.

Kevin Jamison, manager of the Rumford Aubuchon, told members of the River Valley Flood Relief Task Force last week that he has a list of more than 75 homes with different levels of needs.

“If you take that down to people who are still in desperate need, you’re looking at 35 to 40 households,” he said. “There are 18 single-family homes right now that are not inhabitable — four in Mexico and the remainder in Rumford.”

He said the biggest expense is 17 heating oil tanks that need to be replaced at a cost of $900-plus each.

Derek Taber, president of Envision Rumford, said the organization has collaborated with town managers and civic leaders on both sides of the Androscoggin River to create a task force for flood relief and more than $26,000 is available and donations are still coming in. The recent River Valley Strong Flood Relief fundraiser held at the American Legion in Rumford raised more than $15,000 toward this effort, he said.

Envision Rumford is comprised of business leaders and community members working to make Rumford, and the greater River Valley area, a better place to live and do business.


Taber said he believes the best way to distribute most of the money is through the towns’ General Assistance program. A portion will also be given to contractors who have donated emergency services to those in need, he said.

“With Envision Rumford, we volunteer our nonprofit status to be able to accept this money. But we did not sign up to be the judge and jury of who gets what,” he said.

Rumford Town Manager Stacy Carter responded, “Well, you did when you started the program. It’s not on us. We’ll help administer the funds, but we’re not going to decide who gets what. That’s going to have to come from the board of Envision Rumford. I want to make it clear that this is not a General Assistance project. This is disaster relief. Our General Assistance person will assist in administering it, but it’s not going to fall under General Assistance guidelines.”

Carter said Envision Rumford needs to develop the parameters for administering the funds “because we’re not going to be the bad guys that says we are not going to give you this money that was raised for whatever reason.”

According to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, General Assistance helps individuals and families meet their basic needs, including household or personal supplies (toiletries, cleaning supplies), food, housing (mortgage, rent, room rent, temporary housing), fuel and utilities, medical, dental, prescriptions, medical supplies/equipment, and burial costs.

Asked how much each recipient would receive, Taber estimated between $300 and $1,000.


“We know there’s certainly enough damage for a FEMA declaration,” Carter said. “We don’t know when it’s going to be. But FEMA is going to take care of a lot of the more long-term things… So we need to take care of those urgent needs that people need for basic life safety.”

Envision Rumford Treasurer Theresa Sax said the organizations met to develop expanded parameters of the General Assistance guidelines to help reach those in need.

Taber will attend Select Board meetings in Rumford and Mexico to ask them to approve those parameters.

Sax said it’s suggested that people seeking help first fill out a General Assistance application to see if they qualify for that program. If they don’t qualify, they can fill out a second application for disaster relief she developed “so that we have a paper trail.”

“This is a living, working document that will continue to change,” Taber said. “More money will come in. More volunteer hours will be spent. FEMA money will come in. Insurance checks will start to arrive. And this that we’re actively managing will continue to get easier and easier to negotiate.”

Jamison said Aubuchon, with stores in Rumford, Farmington and Norway, is working to develop a program called Community Foundation of Maine, a dedicated relief fund for Oxford County.

Taber also announced the proceeds/donations from the Envision Rumford’s upcoming Rumford Spring Fair will go toward sustaining this fund for future local disasters.

To help ease the impact to families in the River Valley area, people may mail a donation to Envision Rumford Flood Relief, c/o Franklin Savings Bank, P.O. Box 579, Rumford, ME 04276.

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