2015-03-20 / Front Page

Towns are all-in for FEMA funds

By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel all plan to apply for disaster relief dollars made available by the federal government in connection to Winter Storm Juno, which hit the area Jan. 26-28.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on Friday, Feb. 13, that President Barak Obama had signed off on declaration of a “major disaster,” freeing up federal relief funds to state and eligible tribal governments, as well as to towns and certain private nonprofit organizations.

The FEMA money will cover “not less than 75 percent” of the costs incurred for emergency work, repair and replacement of damaged equipment and facilities, and snow removal during the 48-hour event, according to the press release.

The disaster declaration has been requested by Gov. Paul LePage, and was backed by a March 5 letter of support issued by Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King.

“The severity of the Jan. 26-28 storm resulted in manpower, equipment and materials expenditures that have exceeded the budgets of many communities throughout the State,” the letter read. “This problem has been exacerbated by the constant onslaught of severe weather to hit the state and frigid temperatures that have kept snowbanks high. Snow totals for January were more than twice the normal level, and totals for February were more than three times the normal level.”

The letter also claimed that a preliminary damage assessment prepared in the wake of Juno pegged the cost of battling the storm at $2.5 million, or $1.91 per person within the affected area.

Juno reportedly dumped as much as 2 feet of snow on some areas of Maine. The official total used by Kennebunk Public Works, as measured at Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Wells Water District office on York Street, came to 17.9 inches.

The senators had asked that the disaster declaration cover York, Cumberland, Androscoggin and Sagadahoc Counties. However, the document signed by the president March 12 cut Sagadahoc County from the list.

FEMA said it would hold meetings at times and places yet to be announced in order to walk local towns through the application process.

Kennebunkport Town Manager Laurie Smith said Friday that her town spent “over $14,000” battling the storm and will apply for the FEMA reimbursement.

“Supplies were about $3,000 and the rest was labor and equipment,” she wrote in reply to an email enquiry from the Post.

Kennebunk Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said his town also will apply, but did not yet have a firm total on the bill it will submit.

“We are in the process of pulling the numbers together,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Arundel’s interim Town Manager, Jack Turcotte, echoing Tibbetts, said he’ll apply, but did not yet have a firm handle on how much to ask for.

“Whatever we get won’t be enough, but every little but helps,” he wrote.

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