U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe today sent President Bush a letter urging him to support Maine Governor John Baldacci’s request for Public Assistance for York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo Counties for the damages caused by the recent ice storm.

A full text of the letter follows:

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to express support for a request that Governor John Baldacci submitted for federal emergency assistance on behalf of York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo Counties in our home State of Maine, as a result of a severe storm with widespread icing for the period beginning December 11, 2008 and continuing. The disaster period is “continuing” since additional power outages are expected as ice melts and snapping trees bring more power lines down.

At the height of the storm, Maine had more than 233,000 customers – equivalent to 40% of the State’s population – without power. State officials estimate that it will take several days to restore power due to the significant damage to the power infrastructure. As temperatures drop, the lack of power particularly places the elderly and those with special needs at risk. The severe weather has resulted in large amounts of debris which in turn hinders the ability of emergency vehicles to reach and assist Maine residents and to restore power. Since the storm affected the neighboring states as well, power utilities have been forced to seek mutual aid resources from as far away as North Carolina.

The Governor has determined that this event is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is “beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments” and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health and safety , and lessen or avert the threat of a disaster. Thus, he has sought assistance under Categories A and B (debris removal and emergency protective measures) and direct federal assistance of the FEMA Public Assistance Program.

We urge you to give expeditious consideration and approval of the Governor’s request that you issue an Emergency Declaration for York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo Counties.