Governor Baker Announces Historic Federal Disaster Assistance for Last Winter’s Record Snowfall
Municipalities, state agencies, private non-profits receiving over $120 million in FEMA reimbursements
FRAMINGHAM – Governor Charlie Baker was joined today by federal, state and local emergency management officials to provide an update on federal disaster assistance reimbursements to municipalities, state agencies and eligible private non-profit organizations for storm-related costs as a result of last winter’s record snowfall. The projected $120 million in disaster assistance, with nearly $60 million earmarked for municipal reimbursements, represents the Commonwealth’s largest public assistance disaster in history.
“Working closely with our federal and local partners, I’m proud that Massachusetts is securing this critical budgetary relief as a result of last winter’s damages, especially for our impacted cities and towns,” said Governor Baker. “The Commonwealth’s largest public assistance disaster in history will ensure resources are available to make important repairs as we focus on our ongoing disaster preparedness and the upcoming winter season.”
“These reimbursements provide crucial resources and support for our cities and towns after costly winter snowfall and damages last year,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “I thank our emergency management officials and their federal partners for their hard work and close collaboration with our municipalities throughout this process.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), working in concert with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), has distributed nearly $24 million of the projected $120 million in federal reimbursements for eligible costs associated with the snowstorm and accompanying coastal flooding that impacted the Commonwealth between January 26-28, 2015. This is the largest public assistance disaster undertaking in the history of the Commonwealth, involving more than 650 applicants and 1,200 project worksheets. FEMA expects to obligate 90 percent of federal disaster assistance dollars in the next 90 days.
“FEMA has worked diligently this past year to support the Commonwealth after the historic winter storms, and will continue assisting to increase their resiliency for future storms,” FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer Mark Landry stated.
“The $120 million in disaster assistance represents FEMA’s 75 percent share of the $160 million total damage costs incurred during last winter,” stated MEMA Director and State Coordinating Officer Kurt Schwartz. “MEMA continues to work closely with FEMA to manage over 1,200 Project Work Sheets from more than 600 applicants in Massachusetts’ largest public disaster exercise to date.”
As a result of Governor Baker’s written request to President Obama for federal disaster assistance, assistance was authorized last April under a Major Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance (PA) for ten counties that exceeded federal financial thresholds, including Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Middlesex, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester Counties. Hazard Mitigation Assistance was also awarded to the Commonwealth.
Governor Baker was joined at the announcement by emergency management officials from Boston, Worcester and Nantucket. The City of Boston has already been reimbursed $2.8 million for a portion of their contracted snow removal costs. Worcester has been reimbursed over $500,000 for contracted snow removal costs and Nantucket has been reimbursed $17,000 for debris removal of a damaged pier and anticipates over $800,000 in reimbursements for pier repairs in the coming days. FEMA and MEMA continues to work with these, and all eligible entities, on calculating and distributing remaining reimbursements.
"In Boston, we have learned lessons from the challenges of last year's historic amount of snow and worked to take every step to prepare for this year," said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "However, we know that's only possible when we work together, and I am grateful for FEMA and the Baker Administration for helping to secure this critical reimbursement funding as we prepare for another winter in Boston."
“The numbers from last winter are daunting: one-hundred twelve inches of snow, eleven-thousand nine-hundred tons of salt, over eighteen thousand service calls, and six-point-four-million dollars in costs to the City of Worcester,” said Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty. “Through that historic winter both the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor were never more than a phone call away. Every time they answered the phone their first question was simply, “What else can we do for your city?”
“After winter storm Juno, our island sustained significant damage, specifically rendering our Town Pier unusable. Working together in a coordinated effort with our state and federal partners we were able to secure funding for debris removal and repair of one of the most vital parts of our community,” said Nantucket Town Manager Libby Gibson. “It meant a lot to us that Governor Baker and members of his staff took the time to visit Nantucket in the hours immediately following the storm to see the damage first hand. We are extremely grateful to the Commonwealth for facilitating reimbursement for these costs.”
Under the PA Program for this Declaration, federal dollars are being provided to 650 public and eligible non-profit organizations to reimburse approximately 75 percent of eligible costs. Eligible costs include repairing, replacing, restoring or reconstructing storm-damaged public facilities, transportation networks, and coastal infrastructure; implementation of emergency protective measures, including storm-related overtime costs for first responders; and 48 hours of snow removal activities, including removal of snow from public roads, transit systems, sidewalks, and property (including roofs).