A portion of Route 9 between Falmouth and Cumberland was closed April 4 while crews worked to remove a downed tree spanning the snow-covered roadway. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

President Biden has approved Maine’s request for a major disaster declaration to help Cumberland and York counties recover from the severe winter storm in April that caused damage estimated at more than $3.5 million.

The declaration, announced Friday by Gov. Janet Mills, makes assistance available to help cover the costs of debris removal and repairs to roads, bridges and other public works.

Mills thanked Biden for “quickly approving” the state’s request for a major disaster declaration. Mills made the request May 2, citing increased frequency and intensity of storms in the past two years that she said have stretched the capacity of emergency management officials to respond to and recover from disasters.

With the federal assistance, the two counties will provide supplemental grants to state, local and tribal governments for recovery work. The president’s action also unlocks federal funding through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for state, local and tribal governments to develop hazard mitigation and rebuilding plans to reduce storm-related losses in the future.

Mills earlier this week signed an executive order establishing a commission that will develop the state’s first plan for long-term infrastructure resilience. Her action follows the April 4-5 nor’easter and several other damaging storms, such as those in December and January that caused an estimated $90 million in damage to public infrastructure across Maine.

In addition, $60 million is available to help communities recover from recent severe storms and increase their resiliency. Applications for funding and information are available at maine.gov/flood.

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