MASSACHUSETTS DELEGATION REQUESTS EMERGENCY DECLARATION FOR MASSACHUSETTS TO AID EVACUEES FROM HURRICANE KATRINA
The Massachusetts delegation has sent the following letter to President Bush today to show support for Governor Romney's initial request to make an emergency declaration for Massachusetts. On September 9th, Governor Romney requested the President to make an emergency declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Act ("Stafford Act") for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in response to Hurricane Katrina. Thus far, 29 states have received a federal emergency declaration under the Stafford Act because of Hurricane Katrina, making those states eligible for disaster recovery assistance.
Under the Stafford Act, a governor may seek an emergency declaration for his or her state from the President. An emergency declaration expedites a range of federal resources for disaster recovery. The aid is financed through the Department of Homeland Security's Disaster Relief Fund (DRF).
Senator Kennedy said, "Communities of Massachusetts are welcoming victims of Katrina with open arms. The emergency declaration is needed to enable them to receive the best care possible in the Commonwealth, and I hope the President will approve it as soon as possible as he has done in the case of other states receiving evacuees."
"The people of Massachusetts have opened their arms to Hurricane Katrina's victims. We are working to get this disaster declaration right away, so we can get help to those who need it without further delay," said Senator John Kerry.
"The Commonwealth's compassionate efforts to provide aid to those affected by Hurricane Katrina should be recognized by the President and appropriate assistance from the federal government should be forthcoming," said Congressman John F. Tierney.
Congressman Delahunt said, "The New England tradition of neighbor helping neighbor is alive and well. As we care for people whose lives were so disrupted by Hurricane Katrina, we'll continue to pursue reimbursement for communities that opened their hearts and homes."
"Massachusetts has open its door to help those in need, and now it is time for the federal government to do its part," said Congressman Frank.
"To adequately meet the needs of the Hurricane Katrina evacuees at Camp Edwards, it is essential that Massachusetts be granted this emergency declaration request. I join my colleagues in urging President Bush to act expeditiously on this matter," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
"The people of Massachusetts have leapt to action to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina," Rep. McGovern said. "I urge the Bush Administration to approve Massachusetts' request for an emergency declaration. It's the right thing to do."
Congressman Olver said, "So far, Massachusetts has been able to provide hundreds of evacuees with shelter and 30-day emergency benefit packages, but in order to offer continued assistance we need the support of the federal government and an emergency declaration from FEMA."
"We need to work fast to expedite assistance to the residents of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama whose lives were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. The Commonwealth is already supporting more than 200 evacuees. We are ready to provide resources and shelter for more citizens in this time of need, but first we need the federal government to support us in helping these evacuees rebuild their lives immediately."
Congressman Stephen F. Lynch said, "It is imperative that the evacuees from hurricane Katrina receive the highest quality of services that our State can provide. It is my hope that this emergency declaration will ensure that those services will be directed to the displaced families that are here and for those that are on the way."
"In a time of crisis, Massachusetts has acted in the spirit of national unity. By taking in over 200 people from the Gulf and offering to accept as many as 2,500, we have risen without question to do our part," said Congressman Meehan. "Now the federal government must do its part to ensure that evacuees receive the shelter, care, and services they need."
The letter sent to President Bush today, signed by the entire Massachusetts delegation, is below:
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to express our strong support for the request by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for an emergency declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief Act. We understand that Governor Mitt Romney already has taken the actions under state law required for such a declaration, and it is urgent for Massachusetts to obtain this declaration as soon as possible, so that the Hurricane Katrina evacuees may continue to receive the level of care they need and deserve.
A federal disaster declaration will provide much-needed assistance to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of the evacuees, including shelter and emergency care. Currently, more than 200 evacuees are being cared for with state and local resources at Camp Edwards, a Cape Cod military base. The Commonwealth has enacted a $25 million emergency budget to provide assistance to as many as 2500 evacuees who may arrive from the hurricane region.
Massachusetts was among the first states in the nation to offer assistance to Katrina evacuees. We believe that the federal government should reciprocate with an immediate emergency declaration for the state.
With respect and appreciation, and we thank you for considering our request.
[The Massachusetts Delegation]