Firefighters and police work the scene on Dec. 18 when strong wind gusts and torrential rain toppled a tree into a home, forcing the closure of Main Street at Johnson Heights in Waterville. Officials announced Tuesday that Kennebec County had qualified for federal funding to pay for repairs related to the destructive December storm. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

Gov. Janet Mills announced Tuesday that Kennebec County is now eligible to apply for federal monies to help repair damages from the destructive December storm that caused significant damage across Maine.

President Biden had previously approved the state of Maine’s request for a major disaster declaration for storm damage between Dec. 17 and 21 that affected communities across central and western Maine.

Kennebec County originally did not meet the threshold to qualify for public assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but the county produced documentation needed to qualify for the reimbursements under FEMA and is now one of the 10 counties approved for the public assistance, according to a news release from the Mills administration.

“I am pleased to see Kennebec County approved for FEMA’s Public Assistance program,” Mills said in the release. “Kennebec County was hit hard by the December storm, and this approval unlocks important federal funds that will help municipalities rebuild public infrastructure.”

Counties that apply for public assistance can receive reimbursement from the federal government for damages caused from the Dec. 18 storm that caused significant damage across the state and central Maine.

Kennebec County now joins Androscoggin, Franklin, Hancock, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo and Washington counties in gaining eligibility for the federal assistance.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs and low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses, among other programs to help recovery from the storm.

A woman looks at flooding at the Hannaford supermarket at 40 Maine Ave. in Gardiner the day after the Dec. 18 storm. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel file

Businesses across Kennebec County, specifically in Hallowell and Gardiner, faced significant damage from the Kennebec River flooding and are still recovering. In Gardiner, the Hannaford Supermarket will remain closed until April and Bintliff’s Corner Brew on Water Street reopened Tuesday after a two-month closure. In Hallowell, Traverse Coffee Co. is closed until March 12 for repairs from the storm.

The deadline for counties to apply for public assistance is now extended through March 28, and the deadline for individual assistance is April 1.

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