AUGUSTA (AP) – Federal disaster assistance has expanded to include a total of six counties following floods two weeks ago that damaged more than 200 homes and displaced as many as 1,000 people, Gov. John Baldacci said Wednesday.

Public assistance is being made available in Knox, Lincoln, Piscataquis, Somerset and Waldo counties, in addition to Aroostook County, Baldacci said. So far, only Aroostook County has qualified for assistance for businesses and individuals.

The governor made the request on Friday, the same day President George W. Bush signed a major disaster declaration for hard-hit Aroostook,

“I am pleased that assistance has been granted quickly so that communities hit hardest by the storm can focus on repair and recovery,” Baldacci said.

The greatest damage was in Fort Kent, where the St. John River reached a record high, coming within 6 inches of spilling over the town’s levee early on May 1. Hundreds of homes were damaged when the St. John and Fish rivers overflowed their banks.

In Fort Kent, more than 130 homes were evacuated and the International Bridge linking Fort Kent to Clair, New Brunswick, was shut down for four days.

Although the worst damage was in northern Maine, other rivers and streams spilled their banks, damaging homes, roads and bridges elsewhere in the state, as well. More than $2.3 million in damage was tallied under a preliminary damage assessment, Baldacci said.

“I have been amazed at the extent of the damage, but also by the resilience and the warmth of the people I have met. Maine people don’t complain, but roll up their sleeves and work together,” Baldacci said. “These communities are strong, and will recover quickly.”

AP-ES-05-14-08 1308EDT

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