Marcin Gorski, manager of the Aloft hotel in downtown Portland, dumps water from the entrance near Maple Street on Jan. 13. It was the fourth time the hotel had flooded in the six months he had worked there.  Michele McDonald/Staff Photographer

The state is encouraging small businesses and municipalities to seek a portion of $35 million in storm relief funding that is available to help rebuild from the severe weather that hit Maine in December and January.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development opened the application process for the $10 million that is available to Maine small businesses and nonprofits, while the Department of Transportation has launched applications for the $25 million available to municipalities, Gov. Janet Mills announced Thursday.

The funding is part of a $60 million storm relief package secured by Mills and lawmakers during the recent legislative session.

The storms lashed the Northeast, causing flooding and heavy damage to dozens of businesses in Maine and New Hampshire. Maine officials estimated damage from the storms, which were later declared a “major disaster” by President Biden, at about $70 million.

“The severe storms in December and January disrupted businesses during the busy holiday season and created significant hardship for communities across Maine,” Mills said in a statement announcing the funding.

The money will not only help small businesses and communities rebuild but also prepare for future storms, the governor said.

The Business Recovery and Resilience Fund will provide grants for businesses and organizations, including nonprofits, that have been affected by severe storms. Businesses and nonprofits may seek as much as $100,000 toward design, permitting and construction costs. Projects receiving grants may include a recovery component for damage and must outline efforts to increase business resilience to future storms and other impacts due to the changing climate.

The state money may not pay more than 50% of the entire project, and applicants are expected to match funds equal to the total amount requested. Applications also must show that funding will help make properties resilient to future storms.

Another source of money, the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund, provides one-time funding to municipal, tribal and infrastructure districts to help reduce vulnerability to climate change. Projects must demonstrate increased resilience to storms and floods. Applicants may request up to $75,000 to support planning and design, and up to $4 million for construction costs or to support matching funds for construction. Applicants are required to provide a local match of at least 5%.

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