State seeks additional federal relief

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BETHEL – Gov. John Baldacci upped his request for federal assistance for damage done by a severe thunderstorm that struck Oxford County earlier this month by $1.3 million Tuesday.

The governor had earlier asked for $500,000 to help repair damaged public infrastructure. But in a statement issued Tuesday, Baldacci said repairs would likely cost $1.8 million. This includes $1.2 million to replace the Bethel Water District’s reservoir on Chapman Brook and piping, which delivers water to about 650 customers. An additional $600,000 will be needed to repair roads, remove debris and install emergency protective measures, Baldacci’s office said.

In a letter to President Bush asking for additional funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Baldacci wrote, “We estimate this to be a 1,000- or 2,000-year rain event.”

The storm dumped from 6 to 8 inches of rain in approximately 45 minutes, causing multiple landslides and road washouts, burying the water district’s reservoir and dislodging the pipes.

The system was condemned by the Maine Drinking Water Program, an agency under the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Maine’s U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both Republicans, joined Baldacci, a Democrat, in the request to the president.

In a letter to the administration, Snowe and Collins asked the president to quickly approve this request.

“With the fall months and cold weather approaching, it is essential that our state has the necessary resources now to address the appropriate repairs to the water district infrastructure, and ensure a speedy recovery from this devastating storm,” the senators wrote.

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