Nine months ago, a powerful wind and rain storm slammed into Maine, flattening trees and knocking out power to about a half-million people.

In the days and weeks that followed, emergency workers labored to clear roads and check on people stranded by the storm, and line crews from around the eastern United States and Canada worked to replace broken utility poles and get electricity hooked up again to the estimated 500,000 who were without power, some for as long as 10 days.

Cities and towns are still working through the aftermath of the storm — only now it’s to complete the paperwork and documentation required by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement for what was spent.

In Pittston, which held a special town meeting following the storm to authorize selectmen to spend about $20,000 on cleanup, town officials are nearing the end of their paperwork.

Debra MacInnes, administrative secretary to the Board of Selectmen, said Friday that about half the required paperwork has been submitted.

“We’re not complete, but we’re getting there,” MacInnes said. “Half of it has already been submitted to the committee that reviews it.”

Based on preliminary damage assessments, FEMA made its Major Disaster Declaration on Jan. 2 for all but Androscoggin, Aroostook and Washington counties.

Since then, state and municipal officials have been tasked with gathering information in the correct format for claims to be processed by the federal disaster relief agency.

A call to FEMA Friday was not immediately returned. The Maine Emergency Management Agency, which is the recipient of the disaster funds, has tasked a public assistance officer to work with FEMA at its joint field office to process claims, MEMA spokeswoman Susan Faloon said Friday.

“All the towns that have put in for (FEMA funds) have had at least three meetings,” Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency Director Sean Goodwin said. “As far as I know, it’s moving along. The paper work is quite a burden, but FEMA is good about giving guidance.”

Pittston town officials are working through getting some more information from the Pittston Fire Department, for example, to submit for review.

“I’m sure I will have a few more meetings,” MacInnes said. “Either the FEMA guy will come here, or we’ll do it by phone.”

If some or all of the funds are reimbursed, Selectman Gregory Lumbert said it’s likely to go either into Pittston’s surplus fund or its general fund.

No policy decision has been made, Lumbert said, but it will go where it will do the taxpayers the most good.

Goodwin said several communities in Kennebec County declined to apply for the funds, including Kennebec County government.

“We had damage to some buildings, but insurance covered it, so the county didn’t apply for funds,” Goodwin said.

When he checked Thursday, Augusta officials were close to signing their paperwork, as were Oakland officials.

Among the communities not seeking federal funds are Randolph and Waterville, he said, and even that required a little paperwork to opt out.

Even today, the damage the unprecedented storm caused is still evident. In wooded areas, trees still lie where they fell, some broken in half and some tipped over with roots sticking up in the air.

On Swan Island, in the Kennebec River between Richmond and Dresden, logging trucks are still coming off the island by barge.

The island, part of the Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area, suffered a major blow-down in the storm.

John Pratte, wildlife biologist for the state Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and Swan Island manager, estimated in April that as much as 1 million board feet of wood would be removed from about 120 acres of the island by contractor Arey Marine & Wood Products Inc., of Warren.

To accommodate the operation, the island’s opening day was delayed until June 1.

Pratte said earlier this week that the clearing project still has two or three weeks to run, primarily chipping and removing biomass.

“Next week, we’ll begin road repairs/improvements and mulching some areas,” Pratte said via email. “(It’s) mostly cleanup at this point. Overall salvage work has gone very smoothly. Anxious to wrap up and get back to normal routine.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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