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Maine Governor Signs Executive Order to Establish Commission on Infrastructure Rebuilding and Resilience

STONINGTON, ME — Governor Janet Mills recently signed an Executive Order to establish a new commission that will develop the state of Maine’s first plan for long-term infrastructure resilience. The creation of the commission comes in the wake of several devastating storms, including in December 2023 and January 2024 that caused an estimated $90 million in damage to public infrastructure across the state.

In April, the governor requested another Disaster Declaration from President Joe Biden after a slow-moving Nor’easter caused more than $3.5 million in damage in York and Cumberland counties. It was the eighth disaster declaration requested by Mills over the past two years — an unprecedented number in Maine’s history.

Recognizing that the severity of storms is worsening and posing a serious threat to the state’s critical infrastructure, economy, and people, the governor’s Infrastructure Rebuilding and Resilience Commission is charged with reviewing and evaluating Maine’s response to the recent storms, identifying crucial areas for near-term investment and policy needs, and developing the state’s first long-term infrastructure plan to ensure that Maine is ready for the harsh storms ahead.

The governor signed the Executive Order at the Stonington Lobster Co-Op, which was heavily damaged during the January storms. Stonington and neighboring Deer Isle experienced some of the most significant impacts in Maine from the storms, including extreme flooding that closed and damaged many public roads and storm surge that severely damaged working waterfronts.

“After signing my eighth request for a disaster declaration, it’s clear to me that there is more work to do to plan and prepare for future disasters like those we’ve just experienced. We must ask the hard questions about what we can, and must, do to strengthen our ability to withstand storms that are increasingly more severe and dangerous and that pose a real threat to our infrastructure, our people, and our economy,” Mills said. “The time is now for these immediate steps, and this commission will give us the foundation to do just that so we can protect the Maine we know, love, and cherish for our children and grandchildren.”

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The commission is comprised of a total of 24 individuals, including state and local officials, representatives of affected communities, businesses, and industries, and experts in infrastructure, construction, engineering, electrical utilities, floodplain management, financing, philanthropy, emergency response, and climate science.

Over the next year, the commission will travel across the state to engage with communities, industries, and organizations to understand challenges following storms, identify and bridge gaps in resources like funding, financing, and insurance, learn how to improve the resilience of energy systems, propose new approaches to improve disaster recovery and response, and strengthen resilience supports at the state, regional, and local levels.

The commission is co-chaired by Linda Nelson of Deer Isle, the Director of Economic and Community Development for the Town of Stonington, and Dan Tishman of Port Clyde, a Principal and Chairman of Tishman Realty & Construction. The commission will be supported by staff from the governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future and the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

“I’m honored to have been asked by Governor Mills to co-chair this commission,” Tishman said. “Over my construction career, I’ve helped rebuild after disasters around the country and the world. I’m eager and excited to bring this experience to help communities across Maine — like my hometown of Port Clyde — to rebuild and be better prepared to withstand storms in the future.”

The Executive Order states that the commission will deliver its first report on near-term rebuilding and resilience priorities by November followed by a long-term resilience plan in May 2025. To prepare these reports, the commission intends to consult with experts from Maine and from around the country to inform its strategies and recommendations for the governor and legislature.

In the past legislative session, Mills proposed, and the legislature enacted — as part of the supplement budget $60 million in storm recovery funding — the single largest investment by any administration in Maine history. Applications for funding are now available from the Maine Department of Transportation, the Department of Marine Resources, and Department of Economic and Community Development.

“The need to make our state’s infrastructure more resilient will only grow. It’s a problem that affects both coastal and inland areas,” said Bruce Van Note, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation. “A long-term plan not only protects our infrastructure, but also, more importantly, the safety, economy, and quality of life of all Maine people.”

Following the signing of the executive order, state officials and commission members met with local officials, business owners, fishermen, and others from Stonington to learn about the community’s response to the storms and future needs. In the coming months, the commission will hold listening sessions in other areas of Maine that experienced significant damage from the winter storms.

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