Officials in Somerset County hope to secure funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for repair of private roads damaged by flash flooding in the unorganized territories, while repair of some of the roads already has started.

Meanwhile, representatives from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Maine Forest Service toured the area Friday to survey the situation, according to Adrienne Bennett, press secretary for Gov. Paul LePage.

County commissioners last week agreed to write letters of support for additional funding to both LePage and the USDA but also said they have run into problems in trying to seek help because most of the affected area involves private roads, which aren’t eligible for government assistance. Bennett said Friday that “the process is ongoing” and that LePage is supportive of assessing the damage and whether any state or federal funding could be made available.

More than 7 inches of rain fell in an isolated area around Upper Enchanted Township on June 28, creating flash flooding that washed out a bridge on U.S. Route 201 and damaged private roads including Spencer Road, which is owned by the timber company Weyerhaeuser, which is an important artery to a network of private camp roads. All the roads are unpaved.

“We’re trying to look into every avenue we can (to get funding),” said Joe Gagnon, president of the Mile Ten Owners Road Association, one of several road associations that oversees the damaged roads. “We’re really in trouble.”

More than 100 property owners were affected by the damage, including about 70 who belong to the Mile Ten Owners Road Association; and in the days after the flooding, many struggled to get access to their property. The flooding deposited large rocks and boulders in the midst of several roads, many of which are gated. In some cases it created craters several feet deep, making roads impassable.


Gagnon said Friday that a majority of properties are accessible, although the roads are still not in good condition and some property is accessible only by four-wheelers. One road in the association’s area, Hilltop Road, is still inaccessible, he said. He also said the damage to Old Spencer Road, a side road off of Spencer Road, is so great that it will be impossible to repair and road association members are looking at the possibility of building a new road.

In the aftermath of the flooding, officials said they were concerned about providing emergency personnel and firefighters access on the roads, which also are used by the Maine Warden Service and the Maine Forest Service.

Gagnon said Friday that he knew of only one medical emergency that has happened since the flooding. That involved a camp owner who has cancer and had trouble getting out to get necessary medications, he said. “A bunch of us used four-wheelers to make a shuttle and bring their stuff out, and he had his son come get him, since his vehicle was stuck,” he said.

The estimated cost of repairing damage in the area belonging to the Ten Mile Owners Road Association is about $125,000, according to Gagnon. The association already has spent $15,000 on an excavator to make some repairs, and members also have done some work themselves, he said.

“Nobody knows where to park or if they can get to their camps,” he said. “We have one bridge we tried to repair as best we could, but it’s really not what I would call safe. It’s a little questionable going over that bridge. It was down the brook a couple hundred yards and we had to drag it back.”

Dan Baumert, a state conservation engineer with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, said Friday that he plans to visit the area at the end of the month and that any assistance available probably would be focused on efforts to prevent stream erosion near roads.


“We can’t actually pay for repaving the road or bringing in gravel fill for the road,” Baumert said. “If it’s a stream and it’s really eroded and needs to be fixed, that stream erosion could more threaten the road than it was before the storm. That’s kind of what we can do.”

Virginia Manuel, state director of USDA Rural Development in Maine, said Friday that her office is aware of the situation and is waiting for more information from county commissioners before making a determination about eligibility for grants or loans.

“If they’re private roads that serve a private purpose only, it’s unlikely that they would be eligible for our funds,” Manuel said. “We are waiting right now for more information from a couple of organizations up there so we can determine eligibility.”

Other area officials Friday said they are continuing to hope the interaction with the USDA or Friday’s visit from other state agencies will provide the answers they are looking for.

Sen. Rod Whittemore, R-Skowhegan, said Friday that he hadn’t heard any update on the status of potential outside funding, though he did mention that the DEP is looking into whether silt deposits from the washouts have affected nearby Parlin Pond.

“It’s still somewhat of an issue,” Whittemore said. “Every time it rains, more silt from the roads is going to be deposited. There may be some money there, but I don’t know.”


Lloyd Trafton, the county commissioner who represents the unorganized territory, said he hasn’t “heard from anybody.”

“I think we’ve exhausted all avenues we can think of,” he said. “Every time we do something or try to, it comes down to one thing: it’s private land.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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