SKOWHEGAN — Gov. Janet Mills saw first hand the millions of dollars’ worth of damage to a mill redevelopment project caused by the flooded Kennebec River this week during a tour Thursday in Skowhegan.

Mills’ visit to the former Solon Manufacturing and Maine Spinning Co. mill comes as officials begin to assess the damage statewide following Monday’s storm, which dumped several inches of rain across Maine and caused historic flooding of multiple rivers and streams. On Wednesday, Mills also toured flooded areas in Augusta.

Mills said Thursday she is working to identify the federal aid available to help recovery efforts for projects like the Skowhegan mill. A Civil State of Emergency declared for 14 of Maine’s 16 counties will allow the state to mobilize its own resources and seek federal aid, her office said.

Gov. Janet Mills, right, is assisted by Pike Project Development Project Developer Eric Pfeffer, right, as Mills walks where Kennebec River Flood waters tore out pavement and flooded the basement of the Spinning Mill building at 7 Island Ave. in Skowhegan. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Mills toured the 80,000-square-foot mill project, where new commercial and restaurant space, apartments and a hotel on the downtown island are planned, with its contractor, Zack Pike, owner of Pike Project Development. The building is owned by Bangor-based High Tide Capital LLC.

State, county and local officials, as well as several local business leaders, also joined the tour.

Standing on a thick layer of hardened muck left behind on the floor after the river receded, Mills called Pike a “trooper” and offered her support for the project that suffered an estimated $3 million in damage.


“We’ll get through this,” Mills said. “This building is still sturdy, still standing. And this project is going to move forward.”

It will take three to four weeks just to clean up the mess caused by flooding, and about four months to get the project back to where it was before the flood, Pike told the Morning Sentinel on Wednesday.

Gov. Janet Mills arrives Thursday to tour the former Maine Spinning Mill building, left. The building was overcome with 5 feet of water in the basement causing millions of dollars of loss to equipment and building materials when the Kennebec River flooded the property at 7 Island Ave. in Skowhegan. The building is part of a renovation project on the edge of downtown Skowhegan. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The damage was mostly to the ground floor of the building, which at one point had about five feet of water in it, Pike said. Windows and drywall stored there were destroyed, and electrical systems were probably damaged, Pike said.

Construction crews were already beginning remediation work. On Wednesday, multiple large shipping containers were resting precariously against railings alongside the river, but by Thursday, crews had righted them, and were beginning to scrape the hardened mud off the ground around the building. Pike also said his crew found four propane tanks that he previously believed had washed downstream.

The project is one of the most important for the town, according to David Bucknam, Skowhegan’s police chief and interim town manager. Bucknam said he was thankful Mills visited on Thursday and hopes the state will consider directing aid toward getting the project back on track.

Bucknam said Wednesday that the mill probably suffered the worst damage in Skowhegan.


In her comments to reporters on Thursday, Mills also highlighted the need for resiliency in planning and the state’s aging housing stock as issues made clear by the storm’s destruction.

Mills also continued to remind Maine residents to be careful on roadways and around downed trees and power lines, as crews continue to work to restore power to the thousands of customers still in the dark as of Thursday afternoon. One third of Somerset County is still without power, she said.

“Don’t tempt fate,” Mills said. “Leave it to experts. Leave it to the professionals.”

And she offered a positive message of support for communities that were most affected by the flooding and high winds.

“The message to Mainers is that we are supporting you,” Mills said. “The burdens that you are carrying right now are pretty hard, especially with the holidays coming up.”

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