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Governor Mills Requests Major Disaster Declaration from President Biden for Damage Caused by January Storms and Coastal Flooding

MAINE, February 23 - Back to current news.

February 23, 2024

Governor requests individual assistance for people impacted in all eight of Maine's coastal counties

Governor Janet Mills today formally requested that President Joe Biden issue a Major Disaster Declaration to help Maine's eight coastal counties recover from the back-to-back severe storms on January 10th and January 13th that brought significant flooding and damage.

In a letter sent today to President Biden, Governor Mills said that the cost of damage resulting from the two weather events €“ which is estimated to have caused $70.3 million in public infrastructure damage €“ is beyond the ability of the State of Maine to address.

If the President approves the Governor's request, Maine would gain access to Federal funds 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.

In addition to requesting public assistance, the Governor asked President Biden to authorize individual assistance to eligible families impacted by property damage in Washington, Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Cumberland, and York counties.

"Given that affected homeowners are also having to recover from demolition of the waterfront infrastructure that inherently supports their livelihood, the Individual Assistance program is just one necessary component to the comprehensive recovery needs of disaster survivors spanning all eight coastal counties," wrote Governor Mills in her request. "With much of the marine and aquaculture field operating out of primary homes with private docks, hundreds of disaster survivors are now fighting to sustain generational family businesses with limited support. Maine produces 90% of the nation's lobster supply and is home to a thriving marine economy now at risk of decline. The recovery of Maine's coastline will require the support of every federal resource available, and due to the compounded affects sustained by the coastal primary homeowners that help to sustain Maine's economy, recovery is uncertain without the Individual Assistance program."

The requests submitted by the Governor are specifically for Public Assistance (PA) Program, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, and the Individual Assistance Program (IA). FEMA's 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 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. The Individual Assistance Program provides financial assistance and direct services to eligible individuals and households affected by a disaster, who have uninsured or underinsured necessary expenses and serious needs.

The Governor requested, and the President approved, 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. The declaration unlocks Public Assistance and Individual Assistance, which is direct assistance available to certain eligible individuals and families that experienced severe property damage.

The deadline to apply for Public Assistance is February 29, 2024 and the deadline to apply for Individual Assistance is April 1, 2024. The Governor continues to urge Maine people to apply for assistance. 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.

The Governor has also separately proposed $50 million to help communities rebuild infrastructure and enhance climate resiliency by introducing it as standalone legislation rather than as part of the forthcoming supplemental budget. It's complemented by $5 million in her supplemental budget to help another 100 cities, towns, and tribal governments create local plans to address vulnerabilities to extreme weather through the Community Resilience Partnership.

Read Governor Mills' letters to the President (PDF) and view the Request for Presidential Disaster Declaration (PDF).