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Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday filed a formal request for federal disaster relief funding to help offset the cost of cleaning up after a major windstorm that blasted Maine in late October.
LePage asked President Donald Trump for a federal disaster relief declaration, which would make it possible for the state to receive federal aid to help pay for $4.7 million in public infrastructure damages identified by state and county assessments.
At its peak, the storm knocked out power to nearly 500,000 Mainers, eclipsing the number of outages caused by the 1998 ice storm. Thousands of Maine homes and businesses remained without electricity for a week.
During a briefing after the storm, Central Maine Power President Sarah Burns said that more than 800 utility poles fell victim to the storm in the part of the state that CMP services. In his statement Thursday, LePage pegged the statewide number of snapped poles at 1,400. Downed trees also forced road closures and damaged public and private buildings.
SInce the storm, which whipped the state from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1, Maine Emergency Management Agency crews, aided by utility workers and local teams, have worked to assess the storm damage.
“The strong winds and heavy rains caused extensive damage as trees, many still in full leaf and weakened by drought, snapped or uprooted in rain-saturated soil,” LePage said in a statement. “Several communities spent days clearing debris that created life-safety issues from public rights-of-way. The cost for that clean-up work will be considerable and will cut deeply into public works budgets.”
LePage’s request for federal aid only applies to public infrastructure damage. His administration also has asked the Small Business Administration for assistance in helping businesses recoup storm-related losses and the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency to help Maine farmers mitigate their losses.
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