The Edwards Inn, evacuated after the Dec. 18 storm, has been deemed unsafe for occupancy until the damages wrought by the storm are repaired. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — While the Edwards Inn has been vacated since the Dec. 18 storm and flood due to the extensive damage it suffered, Augusta city officials issued an unsafe occupancy notice for the Water Street building earlier this month.

Rob Overton, director of code enforcement for the city of Augusta, said the building sustained infrastructure damage to the sprinkler system, the fire alarm system, the building’s heat and electrical systems.

The city issued the notice to 53 Water St. on Feb. 6, but tenants have been out of the building since they were evacuated after the Dec. 18 storm.

The violation notice, he said, was issued as a precaution to keep tenants out until the damage is fixed.

Janusz Jania, owner of the Edwards Inn, said his 55 tenants — 42 at the Edwards Inn, five at another apartment on Water Street and eight on Bond Street — were relocated to apartments across the city, and a few have started to wonder when they could move back into the Edwards Inn.

“People were saying we evicted them without proper notice, but the building was unsafe,” Jania said.


Jania said he could not let people back in the building with only half of the sprinklers working or with heat in only half of the building. He is aiming for the tenants to return by April.

Overton said the Edwards Inn was the most severely damaged building or business in Augusta because of its location in the floodplain near the western bank of the Kennebec River.

He estimated around $1 million in damages to the building. He has applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for public assistance, but said he received a notice that his property was not qualified for relief. He plans to get more information from FEMA’s Manchester office later this week.

Communities along the Kennebec River, including Gardiner and Hallowell, experienced flooding and damage from the Dec. 18 storm, which also brought widespread power outages.

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