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Public Statements

Massachusetts Delegation Urges FEMA to Act Now on State Disaster Declaration

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


MASSACHUSETTS DELEGATION URGES FEMA TO ACT NOW ON STATE DISASTER DECLARATION

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation -- Senators Kerry and Kennedy and Representatives Markey, Frank, Neal, Olver, Meehan, McGovern, Tierney, Delahunt, Capuano and Lynch -- joined together today to urge Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Acting Director R. David Paulison to act on last week's request for a federal disaster declaration in the Commonwealth.

In a letter sent today, the Massachusetts Congressional delegation called on FEMA to move forward on the Commonwealth's request for aid following Octoberís devastating floods. The Delegation cited over $11 million in damage already incurred by the state, specifically to public infrastructure and personal property.

"Communities in Massachusetts are really hurting from all the recent flooding. We can't let red tape get in the way of relief. FEMA needs to immediately act on our request and come to the aid of our towns that have faced substantial damage to roads, bridges, dams and private homes and businesses," said Senator John F. Kerry.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy said, "The needs of those affected by the floods in Massachusetts should come first while FEMA reviews our request to declare Massachusetts a federal disaster area. With every day that passes, this Administration continues to put bureaucracy before the needs of Americans."

"For Massachusetts this is an urgent matter affecting dozens of our local communities. FEMA needs to act now so that all the affected counties can deal effectively with the damage from flooding," said Congressman Edward Markey

"Slow responses from FEMA are unacceptable, and we need to have the emergency declaration as soon as possible," said Congressman Barney Frank. "I hope that FEMA will move expeditiously, so people can get the help they need."

"Last week, I visited flood damaged communities throughout western and central Massachusetts. I saw families displaced, homes destroyed, and many roads and bridges washed away. It is essential that cities and towns in our state receive the federal assistance they so desperately need. I urge FEMA to act now," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.

"In some instances, the flooding left people with no home or possessions. Dealing with the aftermath, people now risk wiping out their life savings or their children's college funds. The damage in Western Mass may not be as widespread as in the Gulf Coast, but the impact is just as real for families in communities all over my district -- from Greenfield to Pittsfield -- who have been displaced or lost their homes," said Congressman John W. Olver.

"FEMA needs to respond to our request for a federal disaster declaration so we can begin to secure temporary housing and supplies for the victims of these floods," Congressman Marty Meehan said. "Federal assistance will provide much needed relief for those families victimized by the flooding who do not have the necessary resources needed to get back on their feet."

"The flooding crisis in Massachusetts is real, and it must be addressed," Congressman Jim McGovern said. "FEMA must cut through the red tape and get the people affected by this crisis the help and assistance they need and deserve. I urge them to act as quickly as possible."

"It is our hope that FEMA will accelerate its response to schools, roads and bridges in Massachusetts damaged by recent flooding," said Congressman John F. Tierney

Congressman William Delahunt said, "We seem to be able to airlift reconstruction supplies to Iraq virtually overnight, yet our own people have to wait days or weeks for a trickle of basic assistance. By the time this flood aid arrives, our folks will be digging out from our first blizzard."

"I urge FEMA to act on the Commonwealth's request for a disaster declaration so that more resources will be available to the many communities needing assistance. Enough time has passed," stated Congressman Mike Capuano.

Congressman Stephen F. Lynch said, "In light of yesterday's Northeaster and the property damage that occurred, it is imperative that FEMA quickly approve an emergency federal disaster declaration for all those areas of our State that were directly impacted by the floods of early October. Tuesday's storm only magnified the hardships that property owners are enduring. It is time for FEMA to step in and approve the necessary recovery assistance for the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

The text of the letter is below.

October 26, 2005

R. David Paulison
Acting Director
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street SW
Washington, DC 20472
Dear Director Paulison:

As you are well aware, Governor Mitt Romney last week requested a federal disaster declaration for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts because of severe flooding throughout the state, and we have urged you to support that request. While we appreciate that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued an emergency declaration for Bristol County, we are very concerned over the slow pace of FEMA's response to other hard-hit areas across that state that have suffered through near continuous rainfall since October 7.

The Commonwealth has identified over $11 million in damage caused by the flooding. Schools, road, bridges and other public infrastructure have been damaged. Two hundred and fifty homes have suffered major damage, seventy five have been destroyed, and over two thousand have incurred enough damage to warrant individual assistance.

We recognize that FEMA is handling multiple weather disasters. However, we also know that FEMA has had assessment personnel on the ground for several days and that the Commonwealth is working hard to provide accurate damage information. We do not understand the ongoing delay. We request that you immediately review the matter and make a favorable recommendation to the President so that FEMA can begin helping the affected communities.

Sincerely,

MEMBERS OF THE MASSACHUSETTS CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION

http://www.house.gov/olver/news/pr051026.html

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