SKOWHEGAN — Mainers in five counties looking for federal funds to assist their recovery efforts after December’s historic storm can seek help at Federal Emergency Management Agency centers in each of those counties opening this week.

Gov. Janet Mills, along with federal, state and county emergency management officials, marked the opening of the Disaster Recovery Center for Somerset County in Skowhegan on Tuesday. They urged anyone affected by the storm to apply for assistance.

“Please take advantage of this financial support,” Mills said. “Swallow your pride. You deserve it.”

People in Androscoggin, Franklin, Kennebec, Oxford, and Somerset counties who were affected by the storm and subsequent flooding between Dec. 17 and 21, 2023 are eligible for federal assistance under President Joe Biden’s Jan. 31 federal disaster declaration, Mills announced last week.

FEMA representatives are available at the centers seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., to help navigate FEMA assistance applications and connect residents to other federal resources, including low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, according to officials. Agency representatives are also going door-to-door in the five eligible counties to let residents know they are available to assist.

In Kennebec County, Sean Goodwin, director of the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency, said earlier this week that FEMA teams are in Hallowell and Gardiner to speak with residents, guide them through the process and give updates for those who have already filed claims, as well as looking for others who might need the assistance replacing personal property or the contents of their freezers.


“It will go a long way, even if it’s modest low-interest loans or grants,” Gary Lamb, Hallowell city manager, said. “It will definitely help.”

Hallowell is one of the communities along the Kennebec River that suffered flood damage following a May 1 storm, when the Kennebec River flooded the riverfront cities of Augusta, Hallowell and Gardiner following an intense rainstorm that dropped more than 5 inches of rain across central Maine. Lamb said those claims are still open.

“FEMA is carrying out the final checkoffs for that storm, so you can tell it’s a long process,” he said. “Many other places were hit harder than us even though it was bad here. At least we didn’t lose any roads.”

The Skowhegan center, located inside the county emergency operations center at 4 County Drive, opened Tuesday, along with one at the Rumford Municipal Building at 145 Congress St.

Another center is set to open in Lewiston, officials said, and the other two locations in Franklin and Kennebec counties will be finalized by the end of this week. The locations of all five centers will be posted online at

Individual assistance funds, those that are available for individuals and families, is a “fancy way of saying financial help for real people,” Mills said.


Both homeowners and renters can use the funds for temporary housing, home repairs, and replacement items, among other related expenses, Mills said. The funds can also cover damage to other kinds of property, including vehicles.

People in the eligible counties have 60 days, or until April 1, to apply, according to Will Roy, the federal coordinating officer for FEMA who is heading the agency’s response in Maine.

About 3,300 people are expected to apply for the funds and $500,000 has already been administered in the last week, Roy said. About 200 FEMA workers from around the country have arrived in Maine, he said.

The application process is simple, Roy said. The first step is contacting FEMA by visiting one of the Disaster Recovery Centers, calling 1-800-621-3362, heading online to, or downloading the FEMA mobile app.

A FEMA inspector will then schedule a time to visit the home or other property to assess the damage, Roy said. If the application is approved, funds could be deposited as soon as the next day. If there are outstanding questions, it could take longer for the funds to be approved.

Officials emphasized Tuesday that FEMA funds are meant to supplement insurance coverage.


“We want to make sure that people understand that the FEMA assistance isn’t meant to make them whole again,” Roy said. “It’s meant to help them kickstart their recovery.”

Even so, Roy, who recently led similar efforts for FEMA in Vermont after floods battered the state last July, urged everyone to consider applying.

“In Vermont, we saw people say, ‘Somebody else needs it, I’m okay,’” he said. “But no, no — it’s available to help you.”

The U.S. Small Business Administration is also offering low-interest loans to businesses, nonprofits, homeowners and renters, and SBA personnel will be at the five centers as well.

An SBA spokesperson, Karen Knapik, said that despite the agency’s name, the loans are available to individuals who do not own a business and go hand-in-hand with the FEMA assistance.

In addition to the individual assistance, FEMA is administering millions in public infrastructure assistance for municipalities in nine Maine counties and mitigation funding in all counties as part of its response to the Dec. 18 storm.

The Maine Emergency Management Agency is also continuing to assess damage from two January storms, but damage from those storms is not eligible for the federal assistance currently available.

Mills said Tuesday she will seek another federal disaster declaration once that process is complete.

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Aryan Rai contributed to this report. 

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