Maine town's case for federal disaster relief might be $700K shortToo little damage occurred to meet federal statutory requirements
By Nick Sambides Jr.
Bangor Daily News
BROWNVILLE, Maine — It's early yet in the process, but state emergency management workers likely will need to find about $700,000 more in damage done by last weekend's flooding or the state likely won't qualify for federal disaster relief, their spokesperson says.
Town Manager Matthew Pineo challenged and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud was surprised by the assertion, but Maine Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Lynette Miller said that while enough damage occurred in Brownville and Piscataquis County to merit Federal Emergency Management Agency funding, too little occurred beyond those areas to meet federal statutory requirements.
The very strangeness of the weather event could work against the case Gov. Paul LePage and other state officials will present to FEMA when damage estimates are made final, Miller said. The state has 30 days to finish the compilations.
The thunderstorm that stalled over Brownville on June 23-24 contributed to the death of a 29-year-old Milo man in Milo June 24 and severely flooded an area only about 3Â 1/2 miles in diameter with at least 6 inches of rainfall in three or four hours, while doing comparatively little damage elsewhere. Storms so heavy don't typically hang over an area, especially for that long, said a National Weather Service meteorologist.
"There is a very narrow exception in the regulations that we don't think there's a high probability of [winning our case with], but in cases of a very concentrated impact like this, they [federal officials] will consider lowering the threshold, but I don't want to raise anyone's expectations about that," Miller said.
Pineo said it is much too early to draw conclusions.
"They need to wait until the bill comes in for the 650 tons of asphalt," Pineo said Saturday, listing several damage costs yet untallied as he awaited the start of a veterans monument dedication service in Milo.
The several roads in Milo closed since Sunday were reopened Friday in a state and local government emergency response praised for its speed and thoroughness, but road repaving with the estimated amount of asphalt won't be finished until Aug. 1 or so, Pineo said.
Michaud expressed surprise at news of Miller's prediction when informed of it during a ceremony in Milo, but said he would tour damaged areas that day and look into the matter. In a statement, Michaud asked town residents and businesses with storm damage to alert Pineo at 965-2561.
"During the last week, my staff and I have connected with the towns affected by the floods to offer our support and services," Michaud said. "In addition to the towns, we have reached out to Cate Street, Maine Montreal Atlantic Railway, MEMA and the Maine Department of Transportation. I have also spoken to FEMA Region 1 Administrator Don Boyce to pass along information about the floods from the communities and to alert him to a possible request for disaster relief from the state."