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President issues federal disaster declaration to help Oxford County repair

Oxford County will get federal help after a storm in late June ravaged roads and other infrastructure across several towns.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Thursday that federal disaster assistance has been made available to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by a severe storm and flooding June 26.

A large section of payment is washed away June 26 on Wyman Hill Road in Andover after nearly 6 inches of rain fell overnight. The flash flood destroyed some bridges and sections of other roads in town. Submitted photo

The extreme early summer weather caused an estimated $2.6 million in damages across Oxford County. Last month, Governor Janet Mills had requested that President Biden issue Major Disaster Declarations.

The June 26 storm, Mills said at the time, placed an “extraordinary burden on the Oxford County towns of Andover and Byron.” Mills said repairing the damage in Andover, with its population of 752, would cost $2,769 per resident, while repairs in Byron, population 103, would cost “a staggering” $5,123 per resident.

Oxford County Commissioner David Duguay of Byron said all of those who have been struggling to make repairs in their respective towns and territories are “very thankful” for the federal help.

Duguay said on the local level, everyone involved has gone “above and beyond” in addressing the various washed-out roads and other issues that arose during the storm.

In particular, Duguay praised the work of Allyson Hill, director of the Oxford County Emergency Management Agency, and Tony Carter, supervisor of Oxford County Regional Airport and Unorganized Townships, for their work.

The announcement of federal aid for Oxford County comes on the heels of a similar declaration earlier this week covering damages in Franklin County during a separate storm on June 29. In that county, nearly $4 million worth of damage occurred in Jay alone. Some roads there are still not passable.

Between Oxford and Franklin counties, it was estimated that more than $9 million in damage was caused by the storms. On-site assessments in Franklin County determined that $6.51 million in damage had been caused to infrastructure. In Oxford County, damage was assessed at $2.63 million.

The president’s approval of the Major Disaster Declaration unlocks federal assistance through the Public Assistance Program, which provides supplemental grants to state, local and tribal governments so communities can quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies.

The disaster declaration also offers federal funding through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for the entire state of Maine. The program provides funding to state, local and tribal governments so they can develop hazard mitigation plans and rebuild in a way that reduces, or mitigates, future disaster losses in their communities.

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