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Public Statements

Letter to President Obama

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Concord, NH

Governor John Lynch today asked President Barack Obama to declare that Cheshire County has suffered a major disaster as a result of heavy rains that caused flooding and severe road damage in several communities.

Governor Lynch toured the damage this week with assessment teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"More than six inches of rain fell in a short period, which led to flash flooding that caused severe damage to a number of roads," Governor Lynch said. "The flooding caused major road wash outs, extensive debris and damage to state and local road infrastructure and facilities. If a declaration is made by the president, federal aid will be available to help the state and communities with the expense of fixing these roads and other infrastructure."

Local communities and the State estimate damage to be more than $3 million, which is on excess of the threshold needed for public assistance from FEMA.

If a declaration is approved, the state and communities would receive assistance to cover emergency operations and repair costs, as well as debris removal.

A copy of the letter to President Obama is below.

June 8, 2012

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 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.36, I request that you declare a major disaster for the State of New Hampshire as a result of a severe storm and flooding that impacted the state from May 29-31, 2012.

This severe storm resulted in significant rainfall and flooding, with an estimated 6-9 inches of rain falling across the impacted areas in a short period of time. The storm and flooding resulted in major road wash outs, extensive debris and damage to state and local road infrastructure, facilities, and individual homeowners throughout the state.

In response to the situation, I have taken appropriate action under state law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Operations Plan on May 29, 2012, in accordance with Section 401(a) of the Stafford Act. Additionally, I directed the Incident Planning and Operations Center (IPOC) 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 Federal Emergency Management Agency, New Hampshire Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and local communities performed a joint Preliminary Damage Assessment from June 4-6, 2012. The Preliminary Damage Assessment indicates that total county and state damages exceeded $3,000,000 for this disaster. The severe storm and flooding caused widespread destruction to the state and community infrastructure in Cheshire County. The impact resulted in the closure of several major state roads as well as many local roads due to flooding and washout damage. Additional documentation, such as infrastructure damage, shelters and trauma, is provided in the New Hampshire Impact Statement for this disaster.

Pursuant to 44 CFR § 206.36, 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 governments, and that federal assistance is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources of the state, local governments, disaster relief organizations and compensation by insurance for disaster-related losses. I am specifically requesting Public Assistance (PA), to include all categories of PA, for Cheshire County and may request additional counties as more information becomes available. I am also requesting that the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program be designated statewide.

I request that you expedite the issuance of a major declaration for New Hampshire so that the requested assistance programs will be available to meet the needs of the communities in the affected areas.

The State of New Hampshire has an approved standard Hazard Mitigation Plan dated November 1, 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 estimated requirements for assistance from certain federal agencies under other statutory authorities, are tabulated in Enclosure B (Estimated Requirements for Public Assistance).

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 disaster:

1. The state's Emergency Operations Plan was activated beginning on May 29, 2012, and I instructed the Director of Homeland Security and Emergency
Management to staff the IPOC. At 2110 hours the IPOC 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 29, 2012.

2. Emergency Support Functions of the Emergency Operations Plan that were activated and provided assistance were: Transportation (through the Transportation Management Center); Communications and Alerting; Public Works and Engineering (through the Transportation Management Center); Emergency Management; Mass Care; Resource Support; and Public Safety and Law Enforcement (through the New Hampshire State Police Communication Center). State agencies and other support agencies that provided emergency support functions were: Environmental Services; Health and Human Services; Resources and Economic Development; Department of Safety, including Homeland Security & Emergency Management, State Police, E-911 and Mapping; Transportation; 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 communities. These included the towns of Keene, Gilsum, Sullivan and Surry. 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 providing 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.
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 in accordance with Enclosure D, Governor's Certification. Total expenditures, in accordance with Enclosure C, Estimated Requirements for Other Federal Agency Programs, will be determined at a later date.

I request direct federal assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property. The anticipated needs of the communities will far exceed the resources available to the state and local government. There were at least four communities with significant damages to local infrastructure, including roads and culvert washouts. Repair costs may exceed local capability and pose life and safety issues. The per capita impact in Surry exceeded $573; Sullivan exceeded $648; and Gilsum exceeded $828.

New Hampshire is still actively responding to this disaster and assisting local communities in the recovery. Although New Hampshire is still in the process of fully quantifying 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. I request Direct Federal Assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property, to include technical assistance for debris removal; assistance from the Natural Resource and Conservation Service; Army Corp of Engineers; and the potential need from other Federal resources 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.

As stated above, I anticipate the need for the removal of debris, 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.

Sincerely,

John H. Lynch
Governor


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