May 8, 2013

A 'dire situation,' but LePage offers no funds to fire victims

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Gov. Paul LePage talks to the media Tuesday while meeting with Lewiston officials in front of two buildings that burned Monday on Bartlett Street. Asked if he was happy to be back in his hometown, where he was homeless as a youth for two years, he said, “It brings back a lot of bad memories.”

Photos by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald talks to the media Tuesday on Bartlett Street. Local residents and businesses have helped fire victims by donating volunteer time and goods.

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"He can do that today by releasing the emergency funds that are needed" in Lewiston, Eves said.

Bennett said the LePage 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 quickly replace any identification cards and food stamp cards that tenants may have lost. And the administration is exploring whether it can provide more food stamps -- on a one-time basis -- to displaced residents who are nearing the end of their eligibility and to individuals who may have lost cash in the fires.

She said the Lewiston office of the state Department of Health and Human Services assisted about 240 people who stopped in on Monday alone.

Ed Barrett, the Lewiston city administrator, said local 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.

Rotundo said she appreciated LePage's visit Tuesday, but she wished he had spent some time meeting with residents directly affected by the fires.

An indication of why the governor might have left his hometown relatively quickly came when he was asked if he was happy to be back in Lewiston. When he was 11, he ran away from an abusive father there and was homeless in the city for two years.

"It brings back a lot of bad memories," he said.

When asked about his brother – who is believed to have lived with his wife in one of the buildings heavily damaged in the April 29 fire, according to a Sun Journal story Saturday -- LePage said only that it was a private family matter and he would not comment further. Bennett also declined to comment.

She 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."


Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: emurphy@pressherald.com


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