Governor John Lynch today requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reconsider its limited emergency declaration granted yesterday, and provide additional assistance to help ensure New Hampshire communities have sufficient assistance in recovering from this weekend's snowstorm.
"FEMA's original declaration does not provide the full range of assistance New Hampshire requested to help address the severe and ongoing impact of this unprecedented storm. That is why I am asking FEMA reconsider and amend its declaration," Governor Lynch said.
The declaration granted by FEMA on Tuesday is limited to direct assistance from federal agencies, which would only cover the cost of water, food and other materials such as generators that are supplied directly by federal agencies.
Governor Lynch has asked FEMA to expand the declaration to cover state and local costs for debris removal, snow removal, overtime, sheltering and other emergency response costs, items which were included in New Hampshire's original request. If granted, FEMA would cover 75 percent of these state and local expenses.
A copy of the Governor's letter is below.
November 2, 2011
Administrator W. Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Administration
P.O. Box 10056
Hyattsville, Maryland 20782
Through: Don R. Boyce
FEMA Region I
99 High Street 6th Floor
Re: Request for Amended Emergency Disaster Declaration
Dear Administrator Fugate:
On October 31, 2011, New Hampshire submitted to FEMA a request for an emergency disaster declaration, a copy of which is attached, in connection with a severe, out-of-season snowstorm on October 29 and 30, 2011. In response, FEMA yesterday issued an emergency declaration (FEMA-3344-EM) limited to Direct Federal Assistance. This declaration will not provide New Hampshire and its communities with sufficient assistance to address the continuing severe impact of this unprecedented storm, and I am writing to ask that FEMA amend this declaration to include Public Assistance Category A and full Category B assistance, including snow removal.
As of this morning, there are still 90,000 utility customers without power. Over 315,000 were without power at the height of the storm. This was the second largest power outage in the State's history. Over 100 local roads are still closed or restricted due to the enormous amount of debris. Fifty-three schools remain closed and will likely be closed for the rest of this week. A total of 12 overnight and warming shelters are still operating. Last night, 110 persons utilized the overnight shelters, and we anticipate that demand will continue and may increase until power is fully restored.
The State Incident Planning and Operations Center continues to operate on a seven day, 24 hours per day basis, and the Emergency Operations Center is staffed by emergency support functions, as follows: #1 (transportation); #2 (communications/alerting); #3 (public works/engineering); #5 (emergency management); #6 (mass care/housing/human services); #7 (resource support); #8 (health and medical); #12 (energy), and #13 (public safety/law enforcement).
In addition, our Incident Planning and Operations Center includes a fusion center, which is managing issues related to state critical infrastructure, the state 211 center which has been relocated to our primary state 911 center, and the state traffic management center which is fully staffed in support of the state emergency operations plan in response to this disaster. Numerous local emergency operations centers also continue to operate.
The snowstorm set historic records for snowfall in New Hampshire during the months of October and November. National Weather Service reports have confirmed snowfall totals in the western counties reaching 31.4". Many populated areas received 20" or more. A list of revised, confirmed snowfall totals is appended to this letter.
The amount of debris resulting from the storm is enormous and is still being identified. The fact that record snowfalls occurred when leaves were still on the trees only increased the amount of debris by several orders of magnitude. Quantifying the amount of debris has been slowed because local officials are still very much engaged in response activities.
The impact of this severe storm has only been compounded by the fact that it occurred less than 60 days from Tropical Storm Irene (EM3333 and DR4026), and followed severe weather and flooding events in May of 2011 (DR4006), February (DR1892), and March 2010 (DR1913), for which four separate Major Disaster Declarations were issued by President Obama. Indeed, FEMA's New Hampshire field office established after Tropical Storm Irene is still operating.
The cumulative effect of these storms on State and local resources is extraordinary. Since last Saturday, nearly 8,000 calls to 911 have been logged. Local official are inundated with requests for assistance and have had to deploy ever-scare resources to respond to their residents' emergency needs.
Therefore, I am requesting that Emergency Declaration (FEMA 3344-EM) be amended to include, in addition to Direct Federal Assistance, Public Assistance Category A, Debris Removal, and Category B, full Emergency Protective Measures. As part of Category B, the state is also requesting snow removal assistance.
As Governor, I continue to affirm all certifications for federal assistance that are contained in my initial request for an Emergency Declaration dated October 31, 2011.
The State's Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director, Christopher Pope, is prepared to answer any questions and supply any additional information you require for an amended declaration. He can be reached at 603-223-3623.
I appreciate your prompt action on this request.
John H. Lynch