Washington, D.C. -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today designated 10 Maine counties eligible for federal disaster funds to help local governments recover from the effects of extreme winter conditions that have gripped the state since December.
Michael D. Brown, FEMA director and under secretary for the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate, a part of the Department of Homeland Security, said the assistance was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued by President Bush following a review of the agency's analysis of the state's request for federal aid. The declaration covers damage to public property from severe winter cold and frost beginning on December 17, 2002.
Under the declaration, Brown said the state and affected local governments are eligible to apply for federal funding to pay 75 percent of the approved costs for the repair or replacement of damaged public utilities and other common property, such as buildings and equipment.
The 10 counties designated for the assistance by Brown following the declaration include Androscoggin, Aroostook, Cumberland, Franklin, Hancock, Lincoln, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Washington.
Brown said the declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that more counties and additional forms of federal assistance may be designated later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
James N. Russo of FEMA was named by Brown to coordinate federal relief operations. Russo said that procedures for requesting assistance will be explained at a series of applicant briefings at locations to be announced shortly in the affected areas.