Near-hurricane force winds toppled trees, took down power lines, knocked out electricity to hundreds of thousands of people, and damaged buildings and cars – but was this October wind storm a "major disaster?" That’s what FEMA officials are helping to answer.
Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are in Maine this week and next week, visiting towns that have reported significant damage from a pre-Halloween storm.
"To people who have been affected by this disaster, it is very significant, and it is severe," said FEMA spokesman Diego Alvarado.
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FEMA officials will verify damage reports and estimate clean-up costs. Their data will then go to Gov. Paul LePage, who can ask President Trump to declare the storm a "major disaster," triggering federal funds. Typically, damage needs to be higher than $1.9 million to qualify as a major disaster event.
Friday, FEMA and Maine Emergency Management Agency officials toured Freeport, which was hit hard by the powerful storm.
"We still have damaged trees that are hanging and presenting threats," said Freeport Public Works Superintendent Earl Gibson.
FEMA has a team in southern Maine and northern Maine this week, and expects to be touring the state for several more days.
Local and state governments, along with certain private nonprofits, are eligible for FEMA funds.