AUGUSTA — President Biden approved a disaster declaration for several counties for damage sustained in a wild December storm that left tens of thousands of people in the dark on Christmas Day, officials said Thursday.

The declaration unlocks federal public assistance funding for Franklin, Knox, Oxford, Somerset, Waldo and York counties, along with hazard mitigation grants for the entire state.

Waves slam into a sea wall at Middle Beach in Kennebunk at high tide on Dec, 23. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“This critical federal funding will go a long way to help communities that were hard hit by December’s storm to rebuild and repair important infrastructure,” Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and the state’s four-member congressional delegation said Thursday in a joint statement.

In Maine, more than 300,000 homes and businesses lost electricity over the course of the storm that began on Dec. 23, and about 40,000 were still in the dark Christmas night.

The storm that caused coastal flooding, road washouts and wind damage was part of the same storm system that claimed more than 40 lives in western New York.

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