FORT KENT, Maine - Municipal officials, with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have identified more than $681,000 in recovery and repair projects stemming from this spring’ s flooding.
Official approval has been given to federal and state funding for $456,246 worth of the work. The projects include repairs to the baseball field and tennis courts at Jalbert Park, major roadwork throughout the town and repairs to the town’ s waterline.
Town officials are waiting to hear how the remaining $224,754 worth of projects will be funded.
“These are projects in the pipeline [that FEMA] has recommended for approval,” Town Manager Don Guimond told the Fort Kent council Monday night at its regular meeting. “The next step is to go to the state.”
The projects include road work, repairs to damaged town recreational areas and repairs to municipal waterlines.
“There still remain a whole host of other things,” Guimond said, “including waterline repairs and debris removal.”
Of the total estimated costs to date, Guimond said FEMA is funding half at $342,184. The state is poised to kick in an additional $68,436, and Fort Kent must contribute $45,623 as its local share. “Some of this is cash money we have to come up with,” Guimond said. “Some of it will be in-kind contributions that will help offset that.”
Guimond said that in-kind contribution may be calculated in a variety of ways but cautioned, “there is no way we will get out of the cash match.”
As for state funds, Guimond predicted they would not be received this year.
“We will have to create an accounts receivable account,” he said. “Historically the state has always paid their share and I don’ t have any reason to believe they won’ t, [but] I can’ t sit here and tell you when it will happen.”
In addition to funding 50 percent of the repairs and cleanup, FEMA is also hiring a full-time community recovery assistant for a one-year position based in Fort Kent as part of the agency’ s long-term recovery proposal.
The assistant will be responsible for establishing working relationships with public officials, community leaders and affected residents assisting in facilitating a recovery process and supporting the community in the recovery efforts.
Working with federal and state representatives, John Bannen, Fort Kent’ s director of community and economic development, will form a small working group to develop the long-term recovery process and establish a timeline.
For its part, the town will create a task force to investigate options in disaster resilience, assess future flood risk, economic development, housing, energy and a comprehensive plan.
A record winter snowfall was followed by record rains, and in April the St. John and Fish rivers overflowed their banks, merging into one body of swift-flowing water along the downtown area of East Main Street.
When the waters receded, they left numerous residents homeless and millions of dollars in residential and infrastructure damage.
The St. John River came within six inches of breaching the 30-year-old earthen berm protecting the west end of the downtown business community.
“The Army Corps of Engineers is now on the fast track with repairs to the dike,” Guimond said. “The money for the repairs comes from [the Corps of Engineers], and the town does not have to put up any local money.”
Identified repairs to the berm and surrounding areas include replacement of riprap and addressing drainage issues.
“These repairs and funding get us back to the dike’ s original condition,” Guimond said. “They are not for improvements.”
While Fort Kent is not liable for any funding, Guimond did say the town is responsible for related projects within the berm’ s easement zone.
“We have some work to do,” the town manager said. “We have to remove some trees and address areas of encroachment.”
This encroachment, Guimond said, includes several buildings that may have to be removed. He declined to specify which structures would be affected, pending notification of the building owners.
“Our goal is to notify all affected landowners this week,” he said.
In addition, the town is moving forward with an acquisition and demolition project to purchase and remove seven properties heavily damaged in the spring flooding and located on the flood plain.