Governor Mills Directs Administration to Prepare to Distribute $60 Million in Storm Relief as Soon as Funding Becomes Available

Governor Janet Mills today directed her Administration to take the steps necessary to distribute the $60 million in storm relief as soon as the money becomes statutorily available.

$50 million of the funding will be distributed in grants by the Maine Department of Transportation through the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund, which was created by the Mills Administration and the Legislature in 2021. $10 million in funding, added by the Legislature to the Governor’s original proposal, will be distributed to small businesses by the Department of Economic and Community Development through the Business Resilience and Recovery Fund.

The Governor today directed Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note and Marine Resources Commissioner Pat Keliher, and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson to design and make public applications for grant funding as soon as possible. MaineDOT and DMR expect to have applications available by May 9 and DECD expects to have applications available by May 16.

The applications will outline the parameters of the programs and the requirements to receive grant funding. The Departments will begin receiving applications and awarding conditional funding, which will help provide certainty needed to help entities plan to rebuild. Funding will then be issued 90 days following the adjournment of the Legislature – as soon as statutorily possible.

“While I am disappointed this crucial bill got caught up in last minute budget politics, my Administration will take every necessary step to get the money out the door as soon as it becomes available,” said Governor Janet Mills. “We hope these steps can provide at least some sense of certainty to help communities, especially those along the coast, and our small businesses rebuild stronger and better.”

“We are grateful that the supplemental budget includes the Governor’s funding to help our communities rebuild critical infrastructure damaged during the severe December and January storms,” said Bruce Van Note, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation. “MaineDOT will work closely with the Department of Marine Resources and other state agencies to ensure these new resources can be used effectively and as soon as possible. This will involve leveraging MaineDOT’s production capabilities and making conditional grant awards so our communities can plan accordingly and use the funding as soon as it becomes available.”

“This is great news for Maine’s working waterfront. The storms our coastal communities have weathered over the past few months have caused devastation that threatened the very survival of our marine economy. The funding that will now be available, thanks to Governor Mills' unwavering commitment, provides a much-needed lifeline and a path forward for fishermen, aquaculturists, dealers, co-ops and dock owners,” said Pat Keliher, Commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources. “This funding was the result of strong advocacy by many, including the Maine Lobtermen’s Association, the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, the New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association, and the Maine Lobstering Union, all of whom rolled up their sleeves and shared their support for this funding with the Legislature during this difficult, last-minute battle.”

“Maine businesses are the backbone of our economy, and these funds will go a long way toward helping them recover from recent damaging storms,” said Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. “We will be ready to operationalize the Business Resilience and Recovery Fund as soon as funding is available and use it to support businesses and nonprofits as they build for the future and long-term sustainability.”

The Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund provides grants for significant infrastructure adaptation, repair and improvements that support public safety, protection of essential community assets, and long-term infrastructure resiliency. Project types may include working waterfront infrastructure, culverts, storm water systems, water system upgrades, and other interventions that support reducing or eliminating climate impacts, especially coastal and inland flooding. The funds are intended for public infrastructure projects with exemptions available for some types of private infrastructure upgrades with significant community benefits, such as working waterfronts.

The Maine Business Resilience and Recovery Fund, a new fund that needs to be operationalized, will provide grants for businesses and organizations, including nonprofit organizations, that have been affected by severe weather-related events. Projects receiving grants may include a recovery component for damage sustained and must include efforts to increase business resilience to future storms and other climate conditions.

Because the $60 million in storm relief, which was introduced by the Governor in February, was approved by the Legislature with a majority vote early this morning as part of the budget, it will become available 90 days following the adjournment of the Legislature.