Governor Lynch has asked President Barack Obama to declare that New Hampshire has suffered a major disaster as a result of heavy rains and flooding in the North Country that occurred May 26 through May 30, 2011.
"These heavy rains caused substantial flooding and extensive debris, which resulted in damage to roads and bridges, homes and other infrastructure," Governor Lynch said. "Federal disaster assistance will help defray the costs of repairing the damage."
Local communities and the State estimate damage to be more than $1.8 million, which is in excess of the threshold needed for public assistance. The Governor has requested a declaration for Coos and Grafton counties. Additional counties could be added to this request as more information becomes available.
If a declaration is approved, the state and communities would receive assistance to cover emergency operations and repair costs, and funds for mitigation to help prevent future flooding.
A copy of the letter to President Obama is below.
July 15, 2011
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Through: Mr. Don Boyce, Regional Administrator
Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 1
99 High Street
Boston, MA 01210
Dear Mr. President:
Under the provisions of Section 401(a) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5208 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.36, I request that you declare a major disaster for the State of New Hampshire.. Beginning on May 26 and continuing through May 30, 2011, severe weather events with heavy rain, flooding and flash flooding resulted in extensive debris and damage to State and local road infrastructure, facilities, and scattered individual homeowners.
Based on the Preliminary Damage Assessment performed jointly by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, New Hampshire Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and local communities from June 28th through June 30th, I am making this request for Coos and Grafton counties in New Hampshire. The Preliminary Damage Assessment indicates that total statewide damages may exceed $1,800,000 from these May severe weather events. Additional counties could be added to this request as more information becomes available.
In response to the situation, on May 27th I took appropriate action under State law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan in accordance with Section 401(a) of the Stafford Act. Additionally, I directed the State Emergency Operations Center to actively direct and coordinate the State's emergency response and recovery to this event and remain open as necessary throughout the event period.
The flooding and flash flooding caused widespread destruction to the community infrastructure in these two counties. Additionally the State of New Hampshire has experienced flooding and flash flooding in March and April of this year affecting the same areas.
Pursuant to 44 CFR § 206.36, I have determined that these incidents are of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen, or avert the threat of a disaster. I am specifically requesting the Public Assistance Program at this time be designated for Coos and Grafton counties. I am also requesting that the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program be designated statewide.
I request that a major declaration for New Hampshire be issued so that the requested assistance programs will be available to meet the needs of the communities in the affected areas as soon as possible.
The State of New Hampshire has an approved standard Hazard Mitigation Plan dated October 2010. The Plan identifies flooding and flash flooding as a high-risk hazard and has prioritized projects to lessen the effects of severe events, such as this, statewide. The State participates in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program. In addition, local hazard mitigation plans identify flooding and flash flooding as a severe hazard and prioritize projects to minimize the effects of these events.
Preliminary estimates of the types and amount of emergency assistance needed under the Stafford Act, and emergency assistance from certain Federal agencies under other statutory authorities, are tabulated in Enclosure B (Estimated Requirements for Public Assistance).
The following actions have already been taken at the State and local levels to alleviate the conditions of this emergency:
1. The State's Emergency Operations Plan was activated beginning on May 27, 2011 and I instructed the Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to staff the State Emergency Operations Center. That morning, the SEOC was initially staffed to monitor the weather event and to respond to local requests at Level 2. The Director initiated Emergency Support Functions as necessary to respond to this weather event that had begun on May 26th.
2. Emergency Support Functions of the Emergency Operations Plan that were activated and provided assistance were: Transportation, Communications and Alerting, Public Works and Engineering, Emergency Management, Mass Care, Resource Support, and Public Safety and Law Enforcement. State agencies and other support agencies that provided emergency support functions were: Departments of Administrative Services, Environmental Services, Health and Human Services, Resources and Economic Development, Department of Safety, (including the Divisions of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, State Police, and 911 Emergency Services and Communications), the Department of Transportation, the New Hampshire National Guard, American Red Cross, Volunteer New Hampshire, and the Department of Information Technology.
3. During this weather event, 4 local emergency operations centers (LEOC) opened to respond to the needs and safety of the community. These included the towns of Littleton, Dalton, Northumberland and Stratford. Activities included sheltering of residents, clearing debris, road access and security, dam and stream level monitoring, health and welfare checks to homes, and coordination of the response and recovery efforts.
4. The New Hampshire Department of Transportation provided technical and engineering assistance to hardest hit communities in reopening local roads and culverts and long-range solutions to mitigate local infrastructure damaged in this event.
5. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Dam Bureau, provided stream monitoring and dam inspections following the flash flooding.
6. Communities in Coos and Grafton counties in northern New Hampshire have experienced three flooding and flash flooding events; in March, April and May of this year. This May event resulted in the most damage assessed. Unfortunately, many of the infrastructures that were repaired in the first two events were again damaged in the May event. The verified estimated damage, through the FEMA PDA, for identified communities in Coos and Grafton counties, is near $1,800,000. More important is that many of the communities exceeded $20.00 per capita in damages, and some in the hundreds of dollars.
I certify that for this emergency, the State and local governments will assume all applicable non-Federal share of costs required by the Stafford Act.
The anticipated needs of the communities will far exceed the resources available to the state and local government as:
(i) That there were at least nine communities with significant damages to local infrastructure to include roads and culvert washouts. Repair cost may exceed a community's capability and pose life and safety issues.
(ii) The threshold in some communities exceeded $100 dollar per capita.
The type of assistance requested:
New Hampshire is still actively responding to this disaster and assisting local communities in the recovery. Although unable to fully quantify the amount of assistance that will be needed from Federal resources, a declaration at this time is critical in getting anticipated resources in place to protect life and public safety. The State is specifically requesting Direct Federal Assistance, to include technical assistance, in anticipation of debris removal. The need for assistance from Federal resources will continue to grow as the extent of damages is fully developed.
In accordance with 44 CFR § 206.208, the State of New Hampshire agrees that it will, with respect to direct Federal assistance:
1. Provide without cost to the United States all lands, easement, and rights-of-ways necessary to accomplish the approved work.
2. Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the requested work, and shall indemnify the Federal Government against any claims arising from such work;
3. Provide reimbursement to FEMA for the non-Federal share of the cost of such work in accordance with the provisions of the FEMA-State Agreement; and
4. Assist the performing Federal agency in all support and local jurisdictional matters.
In addition, I anticipate the need for debris removal, which poses an immediate threat to lives, public health, and safety. Pursuant to Sections 403 and 407 of the Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5170b & 5173, the State agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the United States of America for any claims arising from the removal of debris or wreckage for this disaster. The State agrees that debris removal from public and private property will not occur until the landowner signs an unconditional authorization for the removal of debris.
I have designated Michael J. Poirier as the State Coordinating Officer for this request. He will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in continued damage assessments and write-ups and may provide further information or justification on my behalf.
John H. Lynch