Distributing Storm Relief As Soon As Possible

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills, thank you for listening.

As you know, last December, heavy rains and powerful winds brought massive flooding that destroyed homes and businesses, roads, and bridges across Maine. Four people lost their lives.

Then in January, two more violent storms caused some of the highest tides ever, which swept fish houses into the sea, kicked pilings out from underneath once-sturdy piers, broke up dunes and breakwaters, chewed up roads and sea walls, wiped storekeepers dry of stock and really changed the very landscape of our coast.

Those things broke my heart. To help Maine people recover and rebuild, I asked President Biden to issue Major Disaster Declarations to free up federal assistance for public infrastructure repairs and for individual assistance for people hardest hit by the back-to-back storms. 

I am very grateful to President Biden for approving those requests.

While my Administration sought every available federal dollar for disaster recovery, I also introduced a stand-alone, emergency bill proposing to use $50 million from our record high “Rainy Day Fund” to ensure that contractors and fishermen and towns could rebuild and get things up and running again as soon as possible.

The Legislature then added $10 million in disaster assistance and recovery for small businesses, which I also supported. But then, because nothing can ever be simple in Augusta, that bill got caught up in last minute politics, when some lawmakers tried to add millions of dollars more in unrelated spending to this simple bill.

Thankfully, we scaled that back, and I am happy to report that we finally got the storm relief package passed, ultimately as part of the supplemental budget.

I am disappointed the bill was not enacted as an emergency measure, as I wanted, which would have allowed it to take effect immediately upon my signature, but I have directed my Administration to be prepared to distribute the $60 million in storm-related relief as soon as that money is available.

We expect to have applications for infrastructure funding available by May 9 and applications for small businesses ready by May 16. So stay tuned — we will be sure to let you know when you can apply.

In the meantime, my Administration will continue to do everything possible to help Maine communities recover and rebuild and become more resilient to future catastrophic weather events.

This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.