Collins, King Support Gov. LePage's FEMA Request To Declare Major Disaster In Maine

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) backed Maine Governor Paul LePage’s request to declare a major disaster for Androscoggin, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, and York Counties.

“The severity of the January 26-28 storm resulted in manpower, equipment, and materials expenditures that have exceeded the budgets of many communities throughout the State. This problem has been exacerbated by the constant onslaught of severe weather to hit the State and frigid temperatures that have kept snow banks high,” wrote Senators Collins and King. “Snow totals for January were more than twice the normal level, and totals for February were more than three times the normal level.”

Senators Collins and King previously sent a letter to Administrator Fugate on February 18th requesting assistance to towns in Washington County that had been his especially hard by successive snowstorms. Following the letter, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate spoke with Senator Collins agreeing to reassess the policy that would have excluded Washington County from receiving federal assistance. FEMA generally considers only the snowfall from a single storm, rather than the cumulative total from multiple storms, in determining whether to provide assistance.

The full text of the letter to Administrator Fugate can be read below:

The Honorable Craig W. Fugate

Administrator

Federal Emergency Management Agency

500 C Street S.W.

Washington, DC 20472

Dear Administrator Fugate:

We are writing to express support for the request by Maine Governor Paul LePage, dated February 27, 2015, that you declare a major disaster for the State of Maine as a result of a snowstorm, severe winter storm, and flooding that occurred January 26-28, 2015.

On January 26, 2015, the State activated its Emergency Operations Plan, and Governor LePage declared a statewide State of Emergency the following day. As a result of a series of severe winter storms that swept through the state this season, the State of Emergency remained in effect through February 27, 2015.

The storm that struck sections of Maine from January 26-28 brought with it record snowfall, strong winds, severe wave action, coastal flooding, and blizzard conditions. In Androscoggin, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, and York Counties, snowfall totals ranged from 20 inches to more than 30 inches in some places. Local impacts included the cost of snow removal; airport closures; suspension of ferry, bus, and intercity train service; and damage to snow removal equipment. Several hospitals had staff shelter on-site to ensure that there would be sufficient staff to report to work.

Maine requested a Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) for Snow Assistance and Public Assistance on February 12, 2015, for Androscoggin, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, and York Counties. Damage estimates verified by the PDA equate to more than $2.5 million or $1.91 per capita.

While snow removal is a typical expense for which Maine communities plan, the severity of the January 26-28 storm resulted in manpower, equipment, and materials expenditures that have exceeded the budgets of many communities throughout the State. This problem has been exacerbated by the constant onslaught of severe weather to hit the State and frigid temperatures that have kept snow banks high. The City of Portland has received more than seven feet of snow so far this winter. Snow totals for January were more than twice the normal level, and totals for February were more than three times the normal level. Furthermore, these dangerous conditions are a reality across the entire State, not only in the counties included in Governor LePage’s request. You will recall that we wrote to you in February about the large impact of storms in Washington County, where many towns face snow levels that are unparalleled in the past 100 years.

We urge you to give expeditious consideration and approval of the Governor’s request and declare a major disaster for Androscoggin, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, and York Counties.