President Biden approves Major Disaster Declaration for May 1 storm while repairs are underway from June 29 flood

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Starks Road in New Sharon, just before the town line. Damage as of May 15, shown here to demonstrate the scope of damages. Annie Twitchell photo.

AUGUSTA – Governor Janet Mills and U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden announced today, July 7, that President Joe Biden has approved the State of Maine’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for eight Maine counties impacted by a severe spring storm that brought heavy rain and wind that created flooding, swelling rivers, power outages, tree damage, and more than $2 million in infrastructure damage.

Last month, Governor Mills requested that President Biden issue the Major Disaster Declaration for Franklin, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Sagadahoc, Somerset, and Waldo Counties for damage sustained by the storm on April 30 and May 1.

“We are grateful that President Biden has approved Maine’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration,” said Governor Janet Mills and Maine’s Congressional Delegation in a joint statement. “This declaration will make available critical Federal funding that Maine will use to complete costly infrastructure repairs necessary after this spring’s severe storm.”

The President’s approval of the Major Disaster Declaration unlocks Federal assistance through the Public Assistance (PA) Program. The Public Assistance Program provides supplemental grants to State, local, and Tribal governments so communities can quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies.

The Disaster Declaration also unlocks Federal funding through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for the entire State of Maine. The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program provides funding to State, local, and Tribal and governments so they can develop hazard mitigation plans and rebuild in a way that reduces, or mitigates, future disaster losses in their communities.

On May 12, Maine formally requested a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) for Public Assistance. On-site assessments conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were conducted across a total of nine counties between May 29 and June 2, and a total of three virtual assessments occurred between the dates of May 26 and June 9. The assessment validated $2,978,440 in infrastructure damage. According to the figures included in the Governor’s letter, Franklin County received more than twice the threshold in damages necessary to apply for federal assistance. With $318,932 validated in damages in Franklin County alone, some towns are reporting costs for emergency repairs that will take a large percentage of the amount budgeted for the year’s regular road maintenance, placing unexpected burden on local budgets. The requests for federal funds, if approved, will help ease the burden on the local budgets.


Downtown Farmington after the May 1 storms. Matt Billian/Billian Moments Photography.


Franklin County has seen significant flood damage in several different storms over the spring and early summer, from the May Day storm that swamped the county to the heavy rains that washed out several highways in the Jay and Wilton area. Franklin County officials assessed damages to the Byron Road in Township 6 North of Weld last week, voting to perform necessary repairs to make the road passable and to work with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands on long-term solutions to the road.

July 6, Jay Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere shared an update on the roads in Jay, which sustained major damage during a flood event on June 29. LaFreniere started by acknowledging the hard work of road crews and contractors, and thanking the community for their patience.

“We met this morning with representatives from Franklin County EMA, DOT, DOC as well as our Dept. Heads. We will be submitting estimates tomorrow for FEMA funding. To receive a Presidential Disaster Declaration the State has to reach $2.4 million in damages to public infrastructure. For this storm, that mainly consists of damage in the Town of Jay, including our municipal roads and sewer, DOT’s State roads and Department of Conservation’s rail trail damage. Based on what we know it seems very likely that we will meet that threshold but we won’t know for sure until we receive a declaration. If the FEMA level is not met then we will be financially responsible for our damages at the local level.”


2023_jay-washout-mainedot_HD_low-quality from MBTV on Vimeo.


As of Thursday night, the State has repaired Route 140, Route 156 and Route 4 so that they can be reopened, but further repairs will be necessary at a later date. Route 133 north of the Hyde Road through Beans Corner is still closed; residents and emergency vehicles have access but the road is closed to general traffic. DOT estimates that Route 133 will be closed for the next month.

Jay Fire Rescue has already responded for several vehicles that traveled the closed portion of Route 133 during the night and became trapped in the washed-out sections of road. Route 133 is closed to all except residents, and extreme caution is advised.

Residents living on Macomber Hill may use 133 from the Hyde Road to Lomie Rivers to access their homes. There are still complete road washouts on the Route 4 end of Macomber Hill Road and on Woodman Hill Road so there is no access through these roads. If you do not live on these roads, please do not attempt to go through them as you will have to turn around.

A contractor has nearly completed repairs to Look Brook. Paving of this road will come at a later date.

There are also complete washouts on Davenport Hill Road and Hutchinson Road. The Public Works has made repairs to Davenport Hill Road so that it is accessible to those living on the road but there is a complete washout around 330 Davenport Hill Road so residents have to access the lower numbers from Route 140 and the higher numbers from Morse Hill Road. There is no through traffic.

The Canton Mountain Road is currently being repaired. If you do not live on this road, please do not go up it as it will delay the work crews.

The Davis Road has been restored to provide access to residents. Please note that Route 133 at the end of Davis Road is closed. Davis Road is not a through way and you cannot access Route 133 from it.

There is still a complete washout on the Chesterville end of the East Jay Road so traffic cannot get through there. Access to the far end of the East Jay Road and the upper portion of Soules Hill is through Chesterville. Public Works is continuing to work to establish access to homes on Soules Hill for residents only. Update, Friday evening: The washout on the north end of the East Jay Road has been made passable. It is not fully restored but vehicles can access it with caution. The Soules Hill Road is still closed to traffic.

Several of the areas that are completely washed out will require permitting from the Department of Environmental Protection and/or the Army Corp of Engineers, as well as engineering work to address culvert upgrades as part of the FEMA process. These include the Begin Road, Macomber Hill Road, Hutchinson Road and East Jay Road.

“There are several other smaller roads that have limited access as well as many roads that still have washouts on the edge/shoulder areas. Please do not attempt to go on roads that have cones, barricades or other warning signs in place. Many of our roads are still in very precarious conditions and the less traffic we have on them, the better they will be.

“Please know that we are working as diligently as we can to restore the damage that has occurred. We will provide additional updates as we move forward,” LaFreniere concluded.

Route 133 after flooding on June 29. Drone imaging provided by Maine DOT.
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