Sunday, March 9, 2014
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Gov. Paul LePage addresses the media Tuesday at the scene of the Bartlett Street fire in Lewiston.
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer
"He can do that today by releasing the emergency funds that are needed" in Lewiston, he said.
Bennett said the administration has reacted quickly to the fires, noting that it helped set up a housing fair to be held Wednesday for landlords, displaced tenants and state and local officials to help find new apartments for the fire victims.
She also said the state is trying to replace quickly any identification cards and food stamp cards that tenants might have lost. Also, the administration is exploring whether it can provide more food stamps to displaced residents who are nearing the end of their eligibility and to people who may have lost cash in the fires, on a one-time basis.
She said the Lewiston office of the Department of Health and Human Services assisted about 240 people who stopped in on Monday alone.
Ed Barrett, the Lewiston city administrator, said city residents and businesses have been especially helpful to the fire victims, donating volunteer time and goods, including clothing to those who lost everything in their apartments. He said one local business even offered a bulldozer to knock down buildings gutted by the fire.
LePage spent little time in his hometown Tuesday, and Rotundo said she while she appreciated his visit, she wished he had spent some time with residents directly affected by the fires. LePage did not meet with the displaced residents during his visit.
LePage gave an indication of why he might have left his hometown relatively quickly when he was asked if he was happy to be back in Lewiston, where he ran away from an abusive father at 11 and spent two years homeless.
"It brings back a lot of bad memories," he said.
However, Bennett said that on his way out of town, LePage's spirits were lifted by a stop at a favorite bakery.
"It makes him smile," she said of the bakery. It's "a place that he really, really loves."