Gov. Janet Mills has requested federal assistance to help two Western Maine counties repair more than $9 million in damage stemming from heaving rain and flooding in June.

Mills asked President Biden in a letter Wednesday to declare rainstorms in Oxford County on June 26 and Franklin County on June 29 major disasters – a move that will free up additional federal resources to fix damaged roads and bridges.

“Due to the extent of infrastructure damages, state resources are not adequate to meet local recovery needs,” Mills wrote, adding that Maine has received three other disaster declarations in the last two years.

“With the increased frequency and intensity of storm events in Maine over the last 24 months, emergency management officials across all levels of government have been stretched in their fiscal and programmatic capacity to respond to and recover from disasters,” Mills said.

Mills is seeking more than $6.5 million in assistance for Franklin County, which experienced 24 road closures because of flooding, road and bridge washouts, and culvert damage, and $2.6 million for Oxford County.

The Franklin County town of Jay was the hardest hit, Mills said. Slow-moving thunderstorms on June 29 dumped up to 5 inches of rain in some areas, at times falling at rates of 2 inches an hour and causing flash flooding. She said rescuers struggled to reach 30 residents because of the flooding.


Jay is still recovering from the closure of the Pixelle Androscoggin Mill, the town’s top employer and taxpayer.

A separate band of storms on June 26 placed an “extraordinary burden on the Oxford County towns of Andover and Byron.” Mills said repairing the damage in Andover (population: 752) would cost $2,769 per resident, while repairs in Byron (population: 103) would cost “a staggering” $5,123 per resident.

Biden acknowledged the flooding when he visited Auburn in late July, saying that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was working with state and local officials to “get you what you need.”

“I know you’ve been hit hard by flooding,” Biden said. “We’re not going away until everything is back. It’s Build Back Better, not just build back to where it was, but better because the environment has changed an awful lot.”

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