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Major Disaster Declaration Issued For Maine as Recovery Continues From Storms

Earlier this week, the White House formally approved a major disaster declaration for Maine's Androscoggin, Franklin, Hancock, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, and Washington Counties counties after the devastating mid-December storm. This storm created one of the worst flooding disasters in Maine's modern history as well as cause one of the biggest power disruptions in New England's recent memory.

Damage from the December 18 cyclone. Credit: Central Maine Power

This will allow the state to use federal funds to help pay for the damages. Damage to public infrastructure alone is estimated to cost around 20 million dollars. Federal funds will also be made available to individual residents of Maine who are still in the process of cleaning up and repairing damages. The office of the governor of Maine stated in a press release on Friday:

"...families who are trying to recover from the December storm are having an awful hard time finding local, skilled contractors and affordable housing alternatives while their homes and businesses are under repair. And that they’re struggling to pay the high cost of replacing major household items or removing mold caused by the flooding."

FEMA will work with the state's emergency management agency (MEMA) to establish disaster recovery centers throughout Maine in the state's hardest hit communities. The exact locations of these centers has not yet been announced.

These centers will be available to families and business owners to connect directly with FEMA to find out about federal disaster assistance, check the status of applications and understand notices sent to them regarding applications.

All of this is just for the mid-December cyclone and does not apply to the back-to-back storms that hit the state in mid-January. Both those storms brought severe flooding, this time to the coast, as well as more tree and structural damage. The January 13 storm brought historically high tides to northern New England.

Federal and state officials have been surveying the major coastal damage that occurred during those storms over the past two weeks to evaluate potential costs. Once the costs of these storm's damages are finalized, Maine could request another major disaster declaration from the White House to help coastal communities and residents in similar ways as this past week's declaration is doing for inland communities and residents.

Cleanup and repairs from this storm are well underway. Earlier this week, state environmental regulators approved a rule change to help coastal areas rebuild sand dunes. This emergency rule change will speed up the approval process to rebuild dunes. Areas looking to use biodegradable products can skip the full permitting process. The rule also eliminates a restriction on rebuilding dunes only once a year.

The governor's office has moved 50 million dollars into the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund. This will provide grants for "significant infrastructure adaptation, repair, and improvements." The state will likely request another major disaster declaration for these storms once the process of collecting information is complete.



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