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Leominster mayor says damage from devastating storm could total ‘$25 to $35 million’

The front yard of this home at the corner of Pleasant and Colburn streets in Leominster was swallowed up by a massive sinkhole.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The mayor of Leominster Thursday said the damage from Monday’s devastating storm, which caused roads to collapse and left much of the city’s downtown underwater, could run to $35 million.

The total damage, based on “quick calculations that I did on my own ... we’re at $25 to $35 million,” Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella said at a press conference Thursday.

In a Facebook livestream Thursday, Mazzarella provided an update on the recovery effort. More than 100 homes were damaged in the flooding, with five rendered uninhabitable. Some buildings downtown were left with 6 and 8 feet of water in their basements.


“We’re in day four here,” he said. “There is no miracle potion to fix everything. What’s important is everyone is OK. That’s obviously the most important thing.”

The city’s public schools were closed the past two days but reopened after a two-hour delay on Thursday.

City officials said Barrett Park and its hiking trails will remain closed until further notice as workers shore up a dam that was threatened in the flood.

To illustrate the damage, Mazzarella videotaped water surging under a washed-out bridge on Exchange Street.

“We don’t even know where the bridge is, to be honest with you,” Mazzarella said. “This happened the night of the storm.”

With the bridge out, some people can’t get to their homes. Installing a temporary bridge was ruled out, so the plan is to build a temporary road behind the high school.

“This is not a quick fix,” Mazzarella said.

City officials have partnered with the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts and the United Way of North Central Massachusetts to launch a relief fund. Donations can be made by texting FLOODRELIEF to 50155 or by visiting Checks can also be dropped off to the mayor’s office at 25 West St.


One of the homes hit hardest in the floods was the home of Andre Obin’s parents on the corner of Pleasant and Colburn streets. Their entire front yard was swallowed a massive sinkhole.

Obin said his parents have lived there since 1989 and have never experienced anything like this. He has started a GoFundMe campaign to help them pay to stay in a hotel and replace the medicine they lost in the flood, among other things.

Obin said he spoke to his parents on the phone about a half hour before the sinkhole opened up.

“I could hear the panic in their voices,” he said.

Obin said his parents were concerned about the water in their backyard as it turned into a pond. Little did they know, something worse was about to happen.

Obin said a next-door neighbor banged on their door and told them they had to get away from the sinkhole and the gaping canyon in the road by their house.

“They got out in the nick of time,” Obin said.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.