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Good morning

Some mornings it’s harder to say those words than others.

This week, the entire nation has grieved with Virginia Tech.

In a senseless act of violence, 32 lives were cut short by a deranged gunman.

The randomness and cruelty of this attack are haunting. What happened doesn’t make sense, and it never will.

Virginia Tech, Virginia and all the families affected remain in our thoughts and in our prayers. On Friday and at the request of Governor Kaine of Virginia, Maine joined in a Day of Mourning to honor the victims of the shooting.

While Virginia was dealing with man-made chaos, in Maine we were dealing with the fury of nature.

A Patriots’ Day Storm slammed into Maine early Monday morning. The storm brought high winds, heavy rain and a damaging storm surge.

I’ve seen the aftermath up close and from the air, and it is devastating. People have lost their homes, roads have been destroyed, businesses closed and – worst of all – four people have lost their lives.

Days before the storms hit, Maine started to prepare. The Maine Emergency Management Agency, County and City Emergency Management personnel put into place plans that surely saved lives and property.

Early Monday morning, I declared a state of emergency that allowed us to seek help from other states and Canada to restore power, and to reallocate resources to areas of greatest need around the state.

Representatives from every agency in state government and the Red Cross were activated as part of the State’s Emergency Response Team and worked tirelessly to coordinate the response to the storm.

On the ground, facing the teeth of the storm, countless men and women put themselves in harm’s way to help others.

When a swollen river swept Donna Dube and her four-year-old granddaughter away, George Eliason of Lebanon went into the water to try to save them.

In the end, he couldn’t and had to be pulled from the water himself by Game Wardens and Marine Patrol officers, but his bravery will not be forgotten, and neither will their’s.

I was monitoring the storm and rescue efforts from MEMA’s Emergency Operations Center when news came in that the little girl’s backpack had been found floating in the river.

There’s just nothing to be said. The family and entire community remain in our prayers.

As the day continued, the news got a little better. Dozens of people were rescued from their cars and houses.

Game Wardens Bruce Loring and Jeremy Judd, working from an airboat, turned tragedy to triumph.

They came upon a car, wedged against a guardrail. A 20-year-old woman was curled inside. Wardens Loring and Judd got the woman out of the car and into their boat only to find that it was pinned to the car by the raging water.

People on shore threw the wardens a rope and were able to pull the boat free.

And in Alna, members of the Maine National Guard assigned to close a flooded road responded with firefighters to a four-alarm fire at the Old Meeting House.

These are just a few of the stories of countless heroes that responded when Maine needed them most.

Their stories aren’t the only ones we should remember. Power crews worked day and night to get the lights turned back on. They faced an enormous task with more than 130,000 meters, affecting nearly 300,000 people.

I talked to a woman on Saco Beach who told me that she helped her neighbor get collectables and items in the house before the house was destroyed, so at least they would have those memories to continue on in their lives as they rebuild their homes and their futures.

And I asked her what made her do that. She said to me that they would have done the same thing for her and that’s why she reached out to help them.

And that’s why this is a great state, because we have great people like that in our state.

Contractors and private companies answered the call without hesitation, delivering critical supplies, making sure that things were taken care of.

The storm is over now and we have shifted from responding to the disaster to recovery. I’ve asked the federal government to declare Maine a disaster so we can qualify for the financial assistance that will help people get back on their feet.

We are working with the SBA to make sure they are helping our businesses to re-open.

And we are working with FEMA to assess the damage and get repairs started. We will not rest until the job is done.

But today is a new day. We have weathered the storm, and we’ve come through to the other side. We hold close to our hearts those who have been lost, and offer our thanks that things weren’t worse.

Maine’s best days remain ahead of us. The roads will be fixed and the homes rebuilt.

And as bad as the storm was, many places in Maine were unaffected and their natural beauty was left untouched. Maine is open for business and we will recover stronger and better.

The sun is shining and the clouds have past.

God bless you, and God bless Maine.

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