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Letter to President Barack Obama

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Concord, NH

Governor John Lynch today requested that President Obama declare an emergency for all 10 counties in New Hampshire as a result of this weekend's severe storm.

If the request is granted, the declaration would make communities in New Hampshire eligible for federal disaster aid to help expedite clean up and recovery from the storm.

"This was a historic storm that resulted in record levels of snowfall in some areas of the state, resulting widespread power outages and a tremendous amount of debris," Governor Lynch said. "The utilities are reporting power outages could last a week in some areas and an emergency disaster declaration will help ensure we have sufficient sheltering supplies and can recover from this storm as soon as possible."

The state anticipates it could need shelter supplies and commodities such as cots, generators, water and food; generator and power generation support teams; debris removal subject matter experts, US Forest Service chain saw crews, and other FEMA technical and advisory services.

This request is different from a major disaster declaration, which helps pay for rebuilding from damage and is dependent on meeting strict federal damage thresholds.

The Governorrnor's request is attached.

October 31, 2011

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Through: Don R. Boyce
Regional Administrator
FEMA Region I
99 High Street 6th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts

Re: Request for Emergency Disaster Declaration For Severe Storm

Dear Mr. President:

Under the provisions of Section 501 (a) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.35, I request that you declare an emergency for all ten counties in the State of New Hampshire (Belknap, Carroll, Cheshire, Coos, Grafton, Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham, Strafford and Sullivan) as a result of a severe, out of season storm accompanied by high winds on October 29 and 30, 2011.

The Severe Storm Event:

This severe storm resulted in historic snowfall levels for the months of October and November throughout many areas of the State. Up to 25 inches of snow fell in Cheshire County in the western part of the state, and up to 18 inches near the seacoast in Strafford County. The populated areas of Hillsborough and Rockingham counties received 25 inches of snow. Together with high winds with gusts to 35 mph, this storm produced the second largest number of utility customer power outages in New Hampshire history - over 315,000 as of mid-day on October 30th.

As of this morning, more than 100 local roads remain closed due to downed power lines and debris. Some 162 elementary and secondary schools are closed statewide. Over 220,000 utility customers remain without power. Utilities have been unable to provide definitive restoration estimates, only complicating the work of public safety and emergency management officials. The state's largest utility reports it may take a week to restore power to customers, which will likely increase the need for sheltering services as the week progresses. Seven regional shelters were established that served over 270 persons last night.

Two of the state's largest cities, Manchester and Nashua, were among the communities that were severely impacted by the storm. Manchester has 41,155 households without power, representing 75% of its residences. Twelve schools, 2 hospitals and 2 nursing homes are affected. In addition, the storm has caused fires in buildings, one of which resulting in 33 residents being displaced. At this time the city is providing sheltering to the affected population, and anticipates that sheltering needs will continue for several days.

In Nashua, over 140 local streets have been impacted with downed wires and trees. Power outages are affecting approximately 75% of the city as of this morning. Approximately 40 people are currently in the shelter at Nashua North. The Nashua Fire Department has responded to approximately 350 storm-related calls for service.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

In response to the situation, I have taken appropriate action under state law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan on October 29, 2011, in accordance with Section 501 (a) of the Stafford Act.

Request for Federal Assistance:

Pursuant to 44 CFR § 206.35, I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local Governorrnments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives and to protect property, public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster. I am specifically requesting Direct Federal Assistance (DFA) for work and services in order to support life-saving/sustaining activities, property protection, and public health and safety requirements. The state is now determining its specific immediate needs, which are anticipated to include the following: shelter supplies and commodities such as cots, generators, water and food; USACE generator and power generation support teams; USACE debris removal subject matter experts, US Forest Service chain saw crews, and other FEMA technical and advisory services.

I am also requesting the Public Assistance Program, Category A, Debris Removal, and Category B, Emergency Protective Measures, be implemented. As part of Category B, Emergency Protective Measures, the state is requesting snow removal assistance. This historic severe storm impacted the state and local Governorrnments with enormous amounts of debris, which has required a very significant emergency response in order to protect the citizens and property of New Hampshire. I am requesting that all ten counties in New Hampshire be designated for this emergency declaration.

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 A.

Use of State and Local Resources:

The following information is furnished on the nature and amount of state and local resources that have been or will be used to alleviate the conditions of this emergency:

The State Incident Planning and Operations Center (IPOC) was activated on October 29, 2011 at 2200 hours. Operationally, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Traffic Management Center, State Police and E911 personnel monitored the impact of the storm. Additionally, there were seven local emergency operations centers initially opened to respond to the storm.

As of 0700, October 30, 2011, the IPOC went to a Level III with the activation of the following Emergency Support Functions (ESF): Transportation, Communications & Alerting, Public Works & Engineering, Emergency Management, Mass Care, Sheltering and Human Services, Resource Support, Health & Medical Services, Energy and Public Safety and Security. The IPOC is continuing to operate on a 24-hour-a-day basis.

The National Guard, Department of Environmental Services, GIS Mapping and the Department of Information Technology were activated to provide support services for this event. The National Guard activities included Resource Support, CST standby status, planning cell functions, and activation of the NG JOC. GIS Mapping provided outage maps by utility and graphical displays of local EOC and shelter status.

During this event, there were approximately 20 local emergency operations centers across the state opened to respond to the needs and safety of the community. Activities included sheltering of residents, clearing of debris, road access and security, health and welfare checks to homes and coordination of response and recovery efforts.

The Department of Transportation and many local crews throughout the state were deployed to plow snow and remove debris from roadways in order to provide passage for emergency and utility vehicles to hundreds of roads. The Department also provided technical support to local public work crews.

To date, there have been dozens of mission-tasking requests from state agencies and local Governorrnments. These tasking requests included shelter needs, bottled water and meals, a mobile communications unit, generators for critical facilities and shelter assistance for an elderly population.

The American Red Cross and local agencies are providing emergency assistance, food, and shelter to individuals through the affected regions. Seven overnight shelters and several other warming shelters are currently opened to provide day and overnight services and warming facilities to individuals and families. Additional shelters will be opening as the need arises.

Federal Agency Response and Assistance:

The following information is furnished on efforts and resources of other Federal agencies, which have been or will be used in responding to this incident:

The National Weather Service, Gray, ME and Taunton, MA, were used extensively throughout this event to provide weather assessments, warnings and situational awareness.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide technical guidance in debris removal and assistance in updating the New Hampshire Debris Management Plan.

Certifications for Direct Federal Assistance:

I certify that for this emergency, the state and local Governorrnments will assume all applicable non-Federal share of costs required by the Stafford Act.

I request direct Federal assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property.

(a) State and local Governorrnment cannot perform or contract for performance of the services and technical advice identified in paragraph (b) below.

(b) New Hampshire is still actively responding to this storm 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 requesting Direct Federal Assistance, and is determining its specific immediate needs for such assistance, including shelter assistance and commodities, USACE debris removal subject matter experts, USACE generator and power generation support teams, US Forest Service chain saw crews, and other FEMA technical and advisory services. These needs are beyond the ability of the state and local Governorrnments to supply at this time. The state's need for assistance from Federal resources will continue to grow as the extent of damage is fully assessed.

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 Governorrnment 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 502 and 407 of the Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5192 & 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 Poirier as the State Coordinating Officer for this request. He will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in damage assessments and may provide further information or justification on my behalf.

Sincerely,

John H. Lynch
Governor


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