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Governor Janet Mills requests major disaster declaration from President Joe Biden for January storms

Damage in Wells, Maine during a storm on January 13, 2023.
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via Facebook
Damage in Wells, Maine during a storm on January 13, 2023.

Governor Janet Mills has requested that President Joe Biden issue a Major Disaster Declaration to help Maine’s eight coastal counties recover from severe storms on January 10th and January 13th.

In a letter to the President, Mills said that the cost of damage to public infrastructure such as roads, bridges and public buildings from the two storms is estimated at more than 70 million dollars. Mills requested federal Public Assistance, Individual Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant funding.

If the President approves Mills' request, Maine would gain access to federal funds that it could use to repair damaged roads, bridges, public buildings, utilities, and other public infrastructure in Washington, Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Cumberland, and York counties.

Vanessa Corson, a spokesperson for the Maine Emergency Management Agency, said Individual Assistance can help residents whose homes were damaged during the January storms.

"Flooded basements. That caused a host of other issues. Damage to oil tanks. There was a report of one furnace completely out of commission. Roof damage and some vehicles were completely submerged," Corson said.

Megan Arsenault, Deputy Director of the York County Emergency Management Agency, said coastal residents took the brunt of the January storms.

"One thing that was a little bit different this time was damage to people's homes. Contents, vehicles, it was really across the board this time," she said.

With a Presidential disaster declaration, displaced residents could be reimbursed for lodging, rental assistance and other serious needs. Corson also said disaster recovery centers could open along the coast to assist residents who are uninsured or underinsured who want to apply for FEMA aid.

Bill Kitchen, Town Manager in Machias, has to rebuild the town office in another part of town due to flooding. He said the Hazard Mitigation Grant funding could be a game changer.

"The Hazard Mitigation thing allows people to be proactive and make plans and actually do projects and build back better. And that's the key," Kitchen said.

The Governor requested a Major Disaster Declaration to help ten counties recover from the December storm that caused significant flooding, prolonged power outages, and extensive property damage across central and western Maine. President Biden granted that request.

The deadline to apply for Public Assistance from the December storm is February 29. The deadline to apply for Individual Assistance from that storm is April 1.

More information on how to apply can be found at the State of Maine’s Flood Resources and Assistance Hub at www.maine.gov/flood.
Corson said residents can also visit the federal disaster assistance website, use the FEMA app, or call 1-800-621-3362 to apply for federal aid.

The Governor has also proposed standalone legislation to use 50 million dollars to help communities rebuild infrastructure and enhance climate resiliency. And Mills' supplemental budget includes 5 million dollars to help another 100 cities, towns, and tribal governments create climate mitigation plans through the Community Resilience Partnership.