Governor Janet Mills and U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden announced Thursday that President Joe Biden has approved the State of Maine’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for several Maine counties, including in the Midcoast, in the wake of last December’s severe winter storm that battered the state.
The President approved the Disaster Declaration for Franklin, Knox, Oxford, Somerset, Waldo, and York counties, which unlocks federal assistance through the Public Assistance Program. The Public Assistance Program provides supplemental grants to state, local, and tribal governments so communities can quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies.
The Disaster Declaration also unlocks federal funding through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for the entire State of Maine. The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program provides funding to state, local, and tribal and governments so they can develop hazard mitigation plans and rebuild in a way that reduces, or mitigates, future disaster losses in their communities.
Governor Mills requested the Major Disaster Declaration, and Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Golden urged the President to expeditiously approve the request in a letter of support.
“We are pleased the President has approved the State’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration,” said Governor Mills and Maine’s Congressional Delegation in a joint statement. “This critical Federal funding will go a long way to help communities that were hard hit by December’s storm to rebuild and repair important infrastructure without local taxpayers having to bear the burdens of the significant costs associated with it.”
High winds and significant rainfall during the December storm led to substantial flooding, extensive road washouts and closures, widespread power outages, and infrastructure damage that are beyond the State’s capability to address.
In January, Maine formally requested a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment for Public Assistance. On-site assessments were conducted across a total of six counties between January 9 and 13 (Cumberland, Knox, Oxford, Somerset, Waldo, and York), with virtual assessments occurring across two counties (Franklin and Kennebec) between January 17 and 18.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) subsequently validated damage assessments for Franklin, Knox, Oxford, Somerset, Waldo, and York counties.