A large section of a rubber membrane on Narraguagus Bay Healthcare Facility in Milbridge, Maine, hangs down from the roof on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

More than a week after the roof of a nursing home in Milbridge was damaged during a storm,  repairs have been completed and residents who temporarily were moved elsewhere are moving back in.

A rubber membrane and foam board insulation underneath it were blown off the roof of Narraguagus Bay Healthcare Facility in a Jan. 17 storm that brought tropical storm-force winds to much of coastal Maine. Only the roof on the rear wing of the building, away from Route 1, was damaged.

After winds tore the membrane off, making it hang down over the western side of the building, the local fire department ordered that the building be evacuated so the damage could be assessed. Of the 41 residents living at the nursing home, 26 were taken to Cortland Living Center in Ellsworth while others were moved overnight to the Gouldsboro Community Center. Some stayed with relatives.

Officials with North Country Associates, the Lewiston-based company that owns and operates Narraguagus Bay, said the concrete roof underneath the membrane and insulation did not appear to have been damaged in the storm. An engineer later examined the roof and found it to be structurally sound, clearing the way for the damaged foam board insulation and the rubber membrane to be replaced.

“Those repairs have been completed and we have begun to move the residents back to the facility,” Mary Jane Richards, the firm’s chief operating officer, said Tuesday.

The reopening of the nursing home helps to stem the loss of nursing home care in Maine, where many licensed nursing homes have shut down in recent years. Some have closed since the start of the pandemic due to the difficulty in retaining and finding housing for staff, while many have closed over the past several years after struggling financially.

Narraguagus Bay is one of only three licensed nursing homes in Washington County. Others are located in Eastport and Machias, according to state Department of Health and Human Services records.

The facility has had to address other shortcomings and deficiencies in the past three years, but all issues that state inspectors have cited at the nursing home in that time have been remedied, according to state officials. None of the prior safety code violations, which included insufficient maintenance in some parts of the building, raised any concerns about the roof or the overall condition of the building.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....