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Governor Requests Federal Assistance for February Storm

February 15, 2005

CONTACT: Lynn Kippax 287-2531 Joy Leach 287-2531

AUGUSTA - Governor John Baldacci today requested snow emergency assistance from the federal government for last week’s storm that brought up to 32 inches of snow in a 24-hour period to Maine.

If the assistance is granted, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would reimburse 75% of eligible costs related to snow removal incurred by local communities and the Maine Department of Transportation in designated counties. Eligible costs include overtime for public works and public safety personnel, equipment costs, and supplies such as sand and salt.

“This was an extraordinary storm that created severe conditions across the state, coming on the heels of another record snowfall less than three weeks ago,” Governor Baldacci said. The Governor last week requested snow emergency assistance for 3 counties affected by the January 22 blizzard in Maine.

Assistance is being requested for thirteen (13) Maine counties: Androscoggin, Aroostook, Cumberland, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Knox, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Washington and York. In order to be eligible, a county must have received record or near record snowfall, and have encountered other extreme conditions such as blowing and drifting snow. Dover-Foxcroft actually doubled its previous record amount for a 24-hour snowstorm, going from 16 to 32 inches. Sagadahoc, Lincoln and Waldo counties do not appear to meet eligibility requirements because rain in the early part of the storm held down snow totals.

“We believe our application is well within eligibility requirements, but FEMA does have a thorough review process and a number of other states have requested emergency or disaster assistance,” the Governor said. “We expect the review process may take several weeks.”

A copy of the letter follows.

Dear Mr. President:

Under the provisions of Section 501 (a) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121-5206 (Stafford Act), implemented by 44 CFR 206.35 and in accordance with 44 CFR 206.227, I request that you declare an emergency for Androscoggin, Aroostook, Cumberland, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Knox, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Washington and York Counties in the State of Maine as a result of the severe threat to public health and safety caused by the inaccessibility of collector streets, minor arterial roads and principle arterials due to extreme snowfall and winter storm conditions beginning February 9, 2005 and continuing through February 13, 2005. I am specifically requesting Public Assistance only, in Category B (Emergency Protective Measures, to include snow removal). Because of the historic nature of this event, in some cases doubling the record snow event for the affected region, I further request an additional 24 hours of eligible time, bringing the total to 72 hours for snow clearing and emergency operations.

Beginning in southern Maine in the late hours on Wednesday, February 9, moving northeastward and continuing through Friday, February 11 in northern Maine, a record snowstorm impacted Maine. An extraordinary weather event, a 24-hour event for all affected counties, left up to 32 inches of snow and featured icy roads, high winds and low visibility. The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Caribou Maine, reported snow falling up to 3 inches an hour across a swath of northern Maine. The National Weather Service posted Winter Storm Warnings throughout Maine for the duration of the storm. Though snowfall had ended in all areas by late on Friday February 11, snow removal efforts continued across the state through Sunday, February 13.

The following table shows official National Weather Service records of snowfall amounts for this events, as well as previous record snowfall amounts for the affected counties:

County - Androscoggin, Town - Auburn, Snowfall Total - 21.0 inches, Snowfall Record in 24 hour period - 16.5 inches, Station Name - Durham

County - Aroostook, Town - Caribou, Snowfall Total - 19.6 inches, Snowfall Record in 24 hour period - 12.0 inches, Station Name - Grand Isle

County - Cumberland, Town - Raymond, Snowfall Total - 23.0 inches, Snowfall Record in 24 hour period - 11.0 inches, Station Name - Scarborough

County - Franklin, Town - Rangeley, Snowfall Total - 24.0 inches, Snowfall Record in 24 hour period - 17.0 inches, Station Name - Kingfield

County - Hancock, Town - Lamoine, Snowfall Total - 20.0 inches, Snowfall Record in 24 hour period - 14.0 inches, Station Name - Ellsworth

County - Kennebec, Town - Winslow, Snowfall Total - 22.0 inches, Snowfall Record in 24 hour period - 15.6 inches, Station Name - Albion

County - Knox, Town - Hope, Snowfall Total - 17.0 inches, Snowfall Record in 24 hour period - 16.5 inches, Station Name - Port Clyde

County - Oxford, Town - Hebron, Snowfall Total - 27.0 inches, Snowfall Record in 24 hour period - 9.0 inches, Station Name - Center Lovell

County - Penobscot, Town - Dexter, Snowfall Total - 29.0 inches, Snowfall Record in 24 hour period - 19.5 inches, Station Name - Springfield

County - Piscataquis, Town - Dover-Foxcroft, Snowfall Total - 32.0 inches, Snowfall Record in 24 hour period - 16.0 inches, Station Name - Dover-Foxcroft

County - Somerset, Town - Norridgewock, Snowfall Total - 22.5 inches, Snowfall Record in 24 hour period - 15.0 inches, Station Name - Harmony

County - Washington, Town - Calais, Snowfall Total - 18.0 inches, Snowfall Record in 24 hour period - 15.0 inches, Station Name - Eastport

County - York, Town - York, Snowfall Total - 22.0 inches, Snowfall Record in 24 hour period - 14.0 inches, Station Name - Limington

*For each impacted county, this was a 24-hour event

Many businesses and virtually all schools throughout the state were closed, and most public events were cancelled. State of Maine offices were closed from 1:00 pm Thursday, February 10 through 10:00 am Friday, February 11. The storm disrupted public safety systems, grounded air traffic and disrupted ground transportation. Heavy wet snow brought down power lines; at the height of disruption over 47,000 household and businesses were out of power, many in rural areas that were difficult for power crews to reach. Power was not fully restored until late Sunday, February 12, meaning some areas were out of power for 3 three days. The American Red Cross opened shelters in the most heavily impacted areas. At the height of the event in southern Maine, a night wilderness search was initiated for a snowmobiler lost in the storm. Road crews and their equipment were stretched to the limit to deal with the wet, heavy, rapidly drifting snow.

In response to the situation I have taken appropriate action under State law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan on Thursday, February 10 in accordance with Section 501 (a) of the Stafford Act. On Friday, February 11, I declared that a State of Emergency existed in the State of Maine, in response to the widespread power outages. This action made it possible to activate a waiver to Federal rules governing hours of operation by operators of power restoration vehicles. That State of Emergency remains in effect.

Maine State Government has faced revenue shortfalls for each of the last three two-year budget cycles, and is currently engaged in budget deliberations to close yet another revenue gap for the forthcoming biennium. Municipal governments are similarly facing budget crises, forcing them to curtail services. Coming on the heels of the severe storm of January 22-23 of this year, for which I have also requested emergency snow removal assistance, this storm has truly devastated the resources of the entire state.

Pursuant to 44 CFR 206.35, I have determined that the impact of this winter storm is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster. I am specifically requesting snowstorm response and snow removal assistance for the State and affected counties and municipalities and assistance to support extraordinary actions taken to maintain public health and safety.

The following State and local resources have been or will be used to alleviate the conditions of this emergency: Assets of all Maine departments including but not limited to those of the Department of Transportation, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine State Police and the Maine Emergency Management Agency; all county and local road clearance and emergency management and response agencies, and other state agencies as needed to protect public property, assist those affected local governments and individuals in responding to and recovering from this event, and to provide any other assistance to protect the public health and safety.

I certify that for this emergency, the State and local governments will assume all applicable non-Federal share of costs required by the Stafford Act.

I have designated Arthur W. Cleaves as the State Coordinating Officer for this request. He will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in damage assessments and may provide further information or justification on my behalf.

Sincerely,

John Elias Baldacci

Governor

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