Emergency Management News - Maine

 

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Maine's Drought Task Force Proactively Convenes Ahead of Potential Drought

2 weeks 1 day ago
AUGUSTA, MAINE - On Thursday, April 22, the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and US Geological Survey (USGS) commenced a preliminary activation of the Drought Task Force (Task Force) for the 2021 season. The U.S. Drought Monitor mapping program shows extensive abnormally dry conditions across the state of Maine that exceed the threshold required for activating the Task Force. Given that these conditions are occurring early in the year, and in combination with the many vaccination-related efforts taking precedence at MEMA, Task Force Chairs from USGS and MEMA approved a preliminary activation of the Task Force.

"Weekly communication has begun between MEMA, USGS, National Weather Service, Maine Drinking Water Program, and other drought monitoring partners to compile a weekly email update on the status of Maine's drought. Task Force members are closely monitoring the drought situation across the state," said Samuel Roy, Natural Hazards Planner with Maine Emergency Management Agency.

Currently about 55% of Maine is experiencing abnormally dry conditions, impacting 15 counties. The majority of streamflows and groundwater levels are lower than average springtime conditions, though recent rainfall has temporarily increased some streamflows in western and southern Maine. River basin reservoir managers are storing more water than average in anticipation of abnormally dry conditions. More precipitation is expected at the start of next week. Task Force members will stay in close communication until the dry conditions subside.

In addition to drought monitoring responsibilities, Task Force partners are asked to report any drought-related impacts for which they are notified. The Task Forces preliminary response will continue for as long as appropriate, until virtual meetings are deemed necessary to respond to drought-related impacts in the state.

For additional information, please visit Maine.gov/MEMA, or visit MEMA on Facebook or Twitter.

Drought Conditions See Significant Improvements Statewide

2 weeks 1 day ago
AUGUSTA, MAINE - Maine's Drought Task Force met virtually Thursday to discuss the drought conditions across the state. Since the Task Force met a month ago, drought conditions have significantly improved across the state. According to the latest Drought Monitor, five percent of the state remains in drought status.

The National Weather Service reported large precipitation gains over the last month, noting most areas received normal or above normal precipitation amounts. While snowpack is currently below normal for mid-December in the headwaters region, they noted there is still a lot of winter to go.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that river flows have recovered due to rain events in October and November, and that on average, Maine stream flows are above normal. Ground water levels have also recovered, with recharge showing in all 18 monitored real time wells. Some of the slower responding wells are still rising from recent rains.

"Its been a long year but its great to see things have really turned around," MEMA Deputy Director Joe Legee said. "We're proud of all of the great work the Task Force has done."

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) reported that Knox County received a drought declaration. The special FSA">https://www.usda.gov/topics/disaster/drought/usda-drought-programs-and-assistance">FSA Farm Programs remain in effect to assist farmers, ranchers and small businesses, as well as the Small">https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela">Small Business Administration disaster loan assistance programs. Available programs and loans include: - Non-insurable">https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/FactSheets/noninsured_crop_disaster_assistance_program-nap-fact_sheet.pdf">Non-insurable Crop Assistance Program (NAP) - provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters including qualifying drought.

- Livestock">https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/FactSheets/livestock_forage_program_lfp-fact_sheet.pdf">Livestock Forage Program (LFP) - provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who suffered grazing losses for covered livestock due to drought.

- Tree">https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/FactSheets/archived-fact-sheets/tap_fact_sheet_may_2018.pdf">Tree Assistance Program (TAP) - provides financial assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant and/or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes, and vines lost due to a qualifying natural disaster.

- Emergency">https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/FactSheets/archived-fact-sheets/elap-livestock-fact-sheet_11-22-19.pdf">Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) - provides emergency relief for losses due to feed or water shortages, disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, which are not adequately addressed by other disaster programs.

- Emergency">https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/FactSheets/emergency_loan_program-factsheet.pdf">Emergency Loan Program - available to producers with agriculture operations located in a county under a primary or contiguous Secretarial Disaster designation. These low interest loans help producers recover from production and physical losses.

- Emergency">https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/FactSheets/emergency-conservation-program-ecp-fact_sheet.pdf">Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) - provides cost share, up to 75% of the producers actual costs, to provide emergency water during periods of severe drought (specifically for grazing and confined livestock and existing orchards and vineyards). Approved practices and measures may include: - installing pipelines or other facilities for livestock water or existing irrigation systems for orchards and vineyards - constructing and deepening wells for livestock water - developing springs or seeps for livestock water.

Producers experiencing drought related losses should contact their local FSA Office. A list of local offices can be accessed">https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=me&agency=fsa">accessed here. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has partnered with the University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture, in collaboration with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, to administer the Maine Drought and Agriculture Survey to research how the drought affected farming operations over the past five years. Those wishing to participate in the survey can access it here.">https://umaine.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2l6xn5MnFy7WJtr">here.

The Dry Well Survey, launched by MEMA in August, received feedback of dry wells in all sixteen counties and has been formally closed. With over 280 responses, the information helped the Task Force determine how widespread the problem was and what resources were needed.

Citizens who may be experiencing low water levels in wells are also encouraged to take the following steps:

- Avoid filling wells by a water hauler or fire department. This could contaminate the owner's well because water from an unknown source may contain toxins and water would likely leak out in a short amount of time.

- Check water systems for leaks and fix them. This can also save money for those on public water.

- Ensure you have a full load before running dishwashers and washing machines.

- Space out water usage to avoid a temporary shortage that could damage the pump.

- If using drinking water from an outside source, make sure containers and the water source are clean.

- Use a licensed well driller or pump installer to check water levels in wells for the most accurate assessment and advice and to avoid contamination.

The Drought Task Force is made up of state, federal and private scientific, agricultural, regulatory, water use and natural resources organizations and assists in monitoring, coordinating, and managing responses to droughts and recommends actions to minimize impacts to public health, safety, the environment and agriculture.

The Task Force has officially been closed due to the improved conditions. The Task Force will reconvene in the spring of 2021 should the conditions warrant.

Maine River Flow Advisory Commission 2021 Annual Meeting Discusses Ice Conditions, Flood Risk, And Drought Conditions

2 months ago
AUGUSTA, MAINE -The State's River Flow Advisory Commission met virtually today to discuss ice conditions, flood risk, and drought conditions across the state.

Experts say there is currently low to below normal stream flow and ground water conditions across Maine. Without a spring recharge, dry conditions may be expected from late spring into summer. Snow-pack conditions are normal to below normal, and there is a below normal risk for river flooding. The National Weather Service reports the 6 to 10-day forecast indicates a warm-up next week with little precipitation so the current conditions will not change much.

"If we have a really mild spring we may be looking at a drought again," said commission co-chair Robert Lent. "But if we do get precipitation, I think we agree that the potential of spring flooding is normal to below normal."

Nicholas Stasulis, Data Section Chief, U.S. Geological Survey, reminded the commission that "just because the snow levels are low, does not mean the flooding risk isn't there."

The US Coast Guard noted it has been a light ice season. Thus far, they have dedicated 180 hours of ice breaking along the Penobscot River in Bangor. Another ice breaking mission is planned by the US Coast Guard from March 22nd - 25th.

According to Susan Baker, State Coordinator of the Floodplain Management Program, Maine is underinsured when it comes to flood insurance. FEMA will provide a new Risk Rating approach that is more comprehensive in October 2021. There have been some Letters of Map Revisions (LOMR) for the Flood Insurance Program issued for Bangor, central areas of Washington and Hancock Counties, and LOMR's are anticipated for York and Cumberland Counties in the future.

Maine's River Flow Advisory Commission consists of members from the US Geological Survey, Department of Environmental Protection, the National Weather Service in Gray and Caribou, the US Coast Guard, University of Maine, Maine Emergency Management Agency, and the National Flood Insurance Program.

The River Flow Advisory Commission is not expected to meet again unless conditions warrant. The report will be available online at www.maine.gov/mema or can be obtained from MEMA by calling 207-624-4400.

Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Prepares for Nor'easter in Addition to Responding to Covid-19 Resource Needs

3 months ago
AUGUSTA, MAINE - Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is in communication with Maine electric utilities, the Maine Department of Transportation, and the Maine Turnpike Authority ahead of the incoming Nor'easter that could knock out power to utility customers and create hazardous driving conditions. Travel is not advised during this significant winter storm that's forecast to begin this evening as falling and blowing snow will cause poor visibility and minor ice accumulation on Tuesday will make for slick roadways.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning along Mid-Coast Maine while the western mountains will see a significant amount of snow. The storm will continue Tuesday with a sleet mix following the main band of snow. Wind gusts of 30 to 40 mph are expected along the coast with the potential for isolated power outages.

The State Emergency Operations Center at MEMA is operational and responding to resource needs of the county emergency management agencies related to Covid-19 as well as monitoring the approaching snowstorm.

"We know this is a difficult time for Mainers and we ask residents to be prepared and proactive as we face what could be a challenging weather event," said MEMA Director Peter Rogers.

Mainers are reminded to ensure that alternate heat and power sources are in proper working condition and properly installed. Following the storm, extra caution is urged when shoveling snow as it may cause injuries if not handled properly. This includes: - Pushing snow instead of lifting it

- Bending your knees and lifting with your legs

- Taking frequent breaks

- Taking care to avoid power lines when removing snow from rooftops

For additional information, please visit Maine.gov/MEMA, or visit MEMA on Facebook or Twitter.
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23 minutes 10 seconds ago
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