Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Deploys Preliminary Damage Assessment Teams to Assess Damage from Wind Storm 2017
November 16, 2017
AUGUSTA, MAINE — Maine Emergency Management Agency continues to work through the recovery process after the October 29 Wind Storm that caused nearly 500,000 power outages, more than any other storm in Maine’s history.
Last week, the Maine Emergency Management Agency received authorization from Governor Paul R. LePage to request a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Public Assistance for the 14 counties affected by severe storms that occurred between October 29 and November 1.
MEMA immediately forwarded this request to FEMA Region I in Boston and they arrived Wednesday and began working with MEMA. Seven PDA teams consisting of FEMA, MEMA, County EMA and local officials will deploy today (Thursday, November 15, 2017) to each affected county, which includes all but Aroostook and Washington Counties. This process will help verify whether Maine reaches the threshold required to formally request a Federal Disaster Declaration, and may take several weeks to complete.
What are PDA Teams
Following a disaster, the Governor requests PDAs as the first step in the declaration process. Federal representatives join state, tribal, and local officials to form what we call “PDA teams.” They are responsible for surveying damages in designated counties, and they do this by going to each county and visiting areas heavily impacted by the storm and verifying the reported damage to public infrastructure. This includes the cost of emergency measures, such as debris removal, and repair or restoration of public facilities such as roads and buildings.
Once assessments for a county are completed, the team moves onto the next. The goal is to complete the job efficiently and thoroughly to ensure the teams have captured the total impact to the communities and area of the state affected by the disaster.
The Next Step
Once all of the data has been compiled, it is turned over to the Maine Emergency Management Agency.
It is important to remember that PDA teams do not determine whether a major disaster declaration will be issued.
The information that is collected is provided to the state for the Governor to determine if he will request federal assistance. If the Governor believes the damages “are beyond state and local capabilities,” he will submit the written request to the President and specify the type of assistance needed and which counties are affected. It is important to remember that FEMA assistance is supplementary in nature and will only be authorized when a disaster is of the severity and magnitude to be beyond the effective response of the state and affected local governments. FEMA cannot duplicate assistance received through any other source including insurance or other federal programs.
What is a Major Disaster Declaration?
If the President approves the request, the declaration will specify what forms of assistance are available. If the Presidential declaration includes Individual Assistance, then individuals can apply if their county was part of the declaration. Even if you have already reported your damage to the Red Cross, local, or state officials, and the PDA team stopped to talk with you – this IS NOT THE APPLICATION for FEMA assistance.
If a Major Disaster is declared, additional information will be communicated at that time.
What Should Individuals Be Doing Now?
Public Assistance is different than Individual Assistance and will be categorized differently.
As soon as possible, individuals should notify their insurance company and file a claim. Keep receipts of any disaster-related expenses such as lodging, medical, repair and cleaning supplies, etc. and make a list of the major items that have been damaged such as utilities, appliances, furniture, and personal property. This damage should also be reported to 2-1-1 Maine to help determine the extent and location of individual damages. It will also paint a full picture of the storm’s impacts within the state.
Those with immediate needs such as shelter, food, water, clothing, etc., should seek help from the local municipalities, voluntary and faith-based groups in their area. More information is available at Maine.gov/MEMA.