May 23, 2018
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State seeking FEMA disaster aid for more than $3.7 million in ice storm-related costs; affected home, business owners asked to report individual damage

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Ohio Street resident Gerry Murray cleans up a birch tree he cut down after it bent over his driveway during the December ice storm. "That's why I have no phone," said Murray after spotting his phone line on the ground.
By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Officials from the Maine Emergency Management Agency have asked their federal counterparts to conduct a preliminary damage assessment for storm-related costs incurred during the period from Dec. 21 of last year through Jan. 1 in 11 Maine counties.

Statewide reported damage for that period currently stands at more than $3.7 million and numerous more damage reports have yet to be submitted, MEMA spokeswoman Lynette Miller said Friday.

The costs and damage are the result of preparing for and dealing with an extended period of freezing rain — followed by a deep freeze — that affected hundreds of thousands of people in Androscoggin, Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Knox, Lincoln, Penobscot. Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo and Washington counties, Miller said.

“This event brought an extended period of freezing rain, required extraordinary measures to maintain transportation arteries, and caused over 200,000 power outages,” MEMA acting Director Bruce Fitzgerald pointed out in a Jan. 10 letter to Paul Ford, acting regional administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, on behalf of Gov. Paul LePage.

“These conditions have resulted in the implementation of emergency protective measures, debris removal and damage to roads, public utilities and public facilities in the affected counties,” Fitzgerald said.

“Statewide reported damages currently stand at over $3.7 million ($2.84 per capita) and the listed counties have met their respective thresholds,” he said, adding, “Additional counties may also be requested for inclusion in the [preliminary damage assessment].”

Miller said Friday that FEMA officials could be in Maine by as soon as next week to begin that assessment, which will determine if the state and affected counties and municipalities are eligible for federal disaster aid.

Meanwhile, Miller said, MEMA also is evaluating the need for assistance for those whose home or business was damaged during the December Ice Storm. Data is still needed and the state is still collecting information, she said.

On New Year’s Day, LePage asked all Mainers who had damage or losses from the ice storm to report them to 211.

“We need to know how many people have been impacted, and where they are, in order to assess what kinds of assistance might be available. We’re asking people to report to 211 so that we know the extent of damages and losses,” LePage said at that time. “The 211 call specialists also have health and safety information available, and may be able to refer you to some kinds of help right away.”

Miller said homeowners and business owners who incurred damage should report it by calling 211 to report them, especially major damage such as burst pipes, damaged heating and electrical systems or roof or structural damage from falling limbs and ice.

“All reported information helps to assess the overall impact from the ice storm,” she said Friday in a news release on the matter.

Although reports are still coming in to 211, she said, more information is still needed to determine if the state might be eligible for any additional assistance programs. Damage can be reported to 211 even if it appears insurance will cover some or all of the cost, she said, adding that 211 calls are part of a survey and should not be considered applications.

Affected homeowners and business people should list and document the damage with as much detail as possible, keep records and receipts of any repairs done and call their insurance agents to see if the damage is covered.

Those who do call 211 should be prepared to give:

— The name of Individual or family affected

— The address, town and county of the affected property

— The current address, if different, and a telephone number to be reached at

— The nature of issues or damage

— For business owners, the approximate dollars, days or other approximate measure of revenue lost. The 211 call specialist may ask some additional questions specific to Small Business Administration assistance criteria.

Miller said MEMA will be working with other state and federal agencies and volunteer groups to evaluate the survey data.

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