State officials collecting damage assessments from recent storms to determine federal disaster aid need

As light traffic moves on nearby Route 1A, ice encrusts bushes growing atop Whiting Hill in Brewer on New Year's Day.
Brian Swartz
As light traffic moves on nearby Route 1A, ice encrusts bushes growing atop Whiting Hill in Brewer on New Year's Day.
Posted Jan. 05, 2014, at 11:43 a.m.

State emergency management officials are collecting assessments of damage wreaked by winter snow and ice storms that pummeled Maine in recent weeks.

The assessments would be the basis for recommending that Gov. Paul LePage make a request to federal officials to declare some counties be disaster areas and making them eligible for federal disaster aid.

State officials have received damage assessments from Kennebec and Androscoggin counties, Dwane Hubert, director of mitigation preparedness and recovery for the Maine Emergency Management Agency, said Friday.

The assessment prepared by Androscoggin officials reported damage totaling about $572,000, according to Hubert. Kennebec officials reported about $309,000 worth of damage.

“This is very preliminary,” said Hubert. “We will be getting damage assessments from other counties as well.”

In addition, Kennebec and Androscoggin officials could revise their assessments, noted Hubert. “And we could see those numbers go up.

“If we get similar numbers from other counties, there is a good chance we will recommend a disaster declaration,” said Hubert.

Federal officials would make a disaster declaration on a county-by-county basis, noted Hubert.

Per guidelines of the federal Emergency Management Agency, Maine would have to sustain damage of about $1.9 million in order to qualify for federal disaster relief, according to Hubert. If the damage assessments submitted by Kennebec and Androscoggin hold up, the state already is about half-way to that threshold amount.

Most of the damage was storm and debris clean-up, said Hubert, such as snow and ice removal and cleaning up downed trees and branches. Local governments may have exceeded their normal budgets for those activities during the storms, he said. Kennebec and Androscoggin also reported emergency protective measures, such as barricading, search and rescue activities, and shelter operations.

“Those are the types of things that were the most predominant,” said Hubert.

State officials are encouraging local governments to submit their damage assessments as quickly as possible, said Hubert.

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