AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul LePage announced Monday that he will provide $50,000 to help the victims of three fires in Lewiston.
The assistance will come from the governor’s contingency account. It brings the total of state funds to $80,000 so far to assist nearly 200 residents displaced by fires that destroyed nearly 80 apartments over the course of about a week.
The governor’s pledge is in addition to the $30,000 authorized by legislative leaders last week. It also marks a reversal from LePage’s earlier comments when he visited the city last week. During the visit, he was asked whether he would tap any discretionary funds to assist the city where he grew up.
“What discretionary funding?” LePage responded. “If there’s discretionary funding – I’ve been here more than two years and I haven’t found any.”
His comments touched off criticism about his handling of the crisis. Since then the administration has vowed to provide funding to help the victims. The $50,000 is more than the $30,000 a LePage spokesman originally indicated the governor would provide.
The money will go to the Lewiston Fire Relief Fund administered by the United Way of Androscoggin County. According to the governor’s office, the fund has $176,108.
“In times of need like this, we see Mainers pull together to make a difference and it truly is heartwarming. While we can’t give the victims back what they had, we can help rebuild their lives as they move forward,” LePage said in a statement.