Update from Commissioner Keliher on Support for Rebuilding Maine's Working Waterfront

I want to share the following important updates on efforts to support the rebuilding of Maine's working waterfront in the wake of January's storms.

Infrastructure Adaptation Fund

As some of you know, Maine's Legislature continues to work on LD 2225 which proposes adding funds to the Infrastructure Adaptation Fund to support rebuilding Maine's working waterfront after the storms of this past winter. 

Based on current conversations, there could be as much as $25 million available to working waterfront properties that provide significant community benefits.

We continue to be optimistic that a funding package will be passed by the Legislature in the near future.

In the meantime, I want to remind you if you own a wharf/pier that provides access for multiple commercial fishermen and/or aquaculturists, please maintain a record of the expenses you have incurred to repair or rebuild your wharf/pier. It will be critically important to document that you are building back in a way that ensures your wharf is resilient against future weather events by making it higher, chaining it down, or building with materials other than pilings. 

Projects that have a significant community benefit and are built back in a way that is resilient to future weather events will likely qualify for the funds that we hope will be appropriated.

We anticipate that the funds will be granted on a 1:1 match or if work is being completed by the owner, we anticipate that 100% of the cost of materials would be reimbursed.

Available funds will be awarded through a competitive process for projects that make working waterfront property more resilient to future storms. 

DMR will be work with the Department of Transportation, which administers the Infrastructure Adaptation Fund, to develop eligibility requirements for the funding to ensure that the funds are appropriately targeted. Once these details are known, we will advertise this opportunity broadly.

Easing Permit Requirements 

Also of note, LD 2030 which eases some of the Department of Environmental Protection's Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA) permit requirements for people rebuilding or replacing piers, wharves or docks to withstand future storms has been signed into law by Governor Mills.  

Disaster Declaration for January Storms

Governor Mills has also announced that President Biden has approved the State of Maine’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration to help eight coastal counties recover from back-to-back severe storms on January 10th and January 13th.

The Declaration unlocks federal assistance to help Maine cover the cost of public infrastructure repairs, estimated at more than $70 million from the January storms. President Biden also approved Individual Assistance requested by Governor Mills that can provide direct relief to certain eligible individuals and families that experienced severe property damage.

Low-Interest Loans

As a result of the declaration, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will be making low interest loans, known as Physical Damage Loans, available to help impacted businesses of all sizes – as well as eligible homeowners, renters, and non-profit organizations - repair or replace property damage resulting from the storm. Businesses may also be eligible for working capital loans from the SBA, known as Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

Loans are available in Cumberland, Hancock, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Waldo, Washington, and York counties.

Applicants may apply online and receive additional disaster assistance information at SBA.gov/disaster. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. For people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is May 20, 2024. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Dec. 23, 2024.

Disaster Recovery Centers

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in partnership with Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and other State agencies, will soon establish Disaster Recovery Centers in impacted areas. FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) Teams will be deployed to Maine to help impacted individuals and families apply for Federal assistance.

U.S. Small Business Administration staff will also be on site at Disaster Recovery Centers as they are established.

We will continue to provide updates as they become available. In the meantime, please stay safe.


Patrick Keliher
Maine Department of Marine Resources