January 11, 2024

Grinch Storm Guidance | How to qualify for FEMA funds and local relief grants

On December 18th, the aptly nicknamed Grinch Storm wreaked havoc on thousands of businesses and homeowners throughout Maine. Some of the hardest hit areas were within just a few miles of our Farmington office and our Rumford office narrowly escaped a potentially dangerous situation as the Androscoggin River pushed the limits of the manmade barrier.

Grinch Storm Rumford Office

In the photo above taken by Matt Pingree of Amnet Realty, you can see the spray in the distance from the deluge of water raging over the Androscoggin Falls at a rate few can recall seeing.

At United Insurance, our hearts go out to every business owner and homeowner who experienced a loss during the Grinch Storm. In the weeks since, account managers throughout our organization have been working around the clock, doing everything they can to get coverage for Maine policyholders.

Grinch Storm Mexico

Sadly, without dedicated flood insurance, most insurance policies do not cover losses incurred from storm water or rising rivers, lakes or oceans. Thousands of Mainers are facing this reality in the form of rejection letters from their insurance carriers declining their claims.

As frustrating and frightening as it is to be turned down, there is still hope.

Last week, FEMA was in Maine to survey the most impacted areas and assess the damage in order to determine how much money to allocate to Maine homeowners and business owners. While that figure is still being calculated, acquiring a claim rejection letter is an essential first step to qualify for what we hope will be at least $7 million in federal relief dollars.

No matter which insurance company or agency you work with to protect your home or business, if you experienced a loss from the Grinch Storm, call your representative immediately and file a claim. He or she will work with you to review all your options and secure the necessary documentation to ensure that when FEMA is ready to start accepting applications for relief funds, you are too.

In the meantime, if your business was damaged during the Grinch Storm, you can also apply for assistance from the Maine Business Relief Fund. Organized by the Retail Association of Maine and Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association, this grassroots effort is hoping to raise a minimum of $800,000 in donations that will become grants ranging from $2,500 – $10,000 to help business owners recover.

Unlike FEMA, you don’t need proof of coverage decline to apply for Maine Relief Fund Grant, but we recommend business owners include photos of the damage with their online application so the people reviewing your request understand your loss. We also suggest a short, well-written summary of how you will use your grant to revive your business and continue contributing to Maine’s economy. Before you apply, be sure to have your EIN number handy and a signed copy of your W-9 which must be included along with your application.

CLICK HERE to submit your application by January 31.

At United Insurance, we’re doing our part to support the Maine Business Relief Fund with a $2,500 donation. If your company can make a contribution, please do so by mailing a check to the Maine Business Relief Fund at 45 Melville Street, Augusta, ME 04330.

If you have any questions about FEMA or would like one of our experienced professionals to review your current business or homeowners insurance policies to ensure you’re ready for the next storm, please CLICK HERE to find the United Insurance office nearest you.

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