For Immediate Release - March 27, 2015

Governor Baker Requests Federal Assistance for Historic Storms

Seeks Aid for Impacted Local Communities, State Agencies and Private Non-Profits

BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito today submitted a request to President Barack Obama for a Major Disaster Declaration based on the impacts of an unprecedented 28-day weather event, starting January 26th, that brought record snowfall and bitter temperatures to the Commonwealth.  This Declaration would make federal aid available in the form of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) Program to ten Massachusetts counties whose PA costs exceed the federal thresholds.  They are Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Middlesex, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester counties.

Additionally, Snow Assistance is also being requested for nine counties that have either met record or near-record snowfall totals, as defined by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) or have met FEMA’s ‘contiguous county’ criteria.  These counties are Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester counties.

“After sustaining an unprecedented 28-day weather pattern of record snowfall amounts and frigid temperatures, our administration has conducted a thorough data analysis to assess damages and snow removal costs, with the support of the congressional delegation and local officials, to craft this important request,” said Governor Baker.  “We urge the President and FEMA to carefully consider this declaration to provide much-needed relief to our cities, towns and state agencies.”

“Our cities and towns are in need of support after a brutal winter marked by record-breaking snow and cold,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.  “Our administration is pleased to have worked with local officials to carefully review costs for snow removal and repairs for publicly owned infrastructure while completing this declaration.”

The Governor’s request cites almost $350 million in costs to state agencies and cities and towns for plowing and removing almost 9 feet of snow in just four weeks, and almost $50 million in other storm costs. 

This request asks the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to take a broader, more comprehensive view of the impacts of this extraordinary sustained weather event, rather than considering a single storm. While FEMA ordinarily considers snow removal costs eligible as emergency protective measures for only a 48-hour period, the Governor’s request, because of the unprecedented and historic nature of this prolonged weather pattern and its impacts, asks for assistance for the entire four-week incident period and details the crippling effect the weather pattern had on health care and transportation systems.

The Declaration, if issued, would provide federal disaster assistance to approximately 250 cities and towns, state agencies and private non-profit organizations. The federal government would provide 75% reimbursement for eligible snow removal costs, and costs to repair damage to public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, piers, seawalls and storm-related overtime costs for first responders during this time. 

Click here to view request for Major Disaster Declaration.