In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, President Obama today granted Rhode Island's request for a federal disaster declaration for Washington, Bristol, and Newport counties.
Yesterday, Governor Chafee, with the support of Rhode Island's Congressional delegation, signed a request seeking a presidential disaster declaration that would provide Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance in three of the state's five counties and Hazard Mitigation statewide. Today's declaration will make direct federal assistance available to help repair damage to public infrastructure in areas most affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Preliminary assessments by FEMA inspectors showed at least $5.5 million in damages to public buildings and infrastructure in Washington, Bristol, and Newport counties. FEMA crews are continuing to conduct damage assessment surveys throughout the state. Pending the results, Governor Chafee may also decide to submit a request for an expanded declaration which could allow for Individual Assistance as well. Individual Assistance may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs; low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses; and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
"This is an important step and I want to thank President Obama for quickly signing this disaster declaration and speeding help to Rhode Island. There has been significant damage along Rhode Island's coast and this federal assistance will help with the recovery. I also want to thank our first responders and emergency personnel at the local and state level who did a tremendous job keeping the public safe, and the state and federal teams that have been on the ground providing aid and assistance to Rhode Islanders in need," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed. "This declaration is part of a process that supports the recovery. This process won't happen overnight and this remains a difficult budgetary environment, but I will do everything I can to ensure Rhode Island receives the federal assistance we need."
"This declaration will clear the way for additional federal resources to aid Rhode Island communities hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "I've seen much of the damage firsthand, and I thank President Obama for promptly approving the state's request for aid. Effective coordination between federal, state and local officials, along with emergency responders and repair crews, will help us address the considerable damage we sustained as quickly as possible."
"In the midst of the devastation left behind by Sandy in many of our communities, we have also seen the perseverance and determination of Rhode Islanders as well as fantastic coordination among federal, state and local officials, emergency responders and private business," said Congressman Jim Langevin. "We could not have obtained a major disaster declaration so rapidly without everyone's hard work and the efforts that helped the preliminary damage assessment teams gather information required to request federal aid. Having been through other recent disasters, we all know this is only one step in a long process, but it is an important one."
"I thank President Obama for his decision today that will ensure Rhode Island receives important federal funds to repair damage following Hurricane Sandy," said U.S. Representative David Cicilline. "I am proud that our federal delegation was able to help expedite this process and get results for Rhode Island."
All four members of the delegation have toured the state with FEMA staff to help provide a firsthand look at the flooding and damage to buildings and infrastructure caused by Hurricane Sandy. FEMA has worked diligently to expedite Preliminary Damage Assessments in Rhode Island and the U.S. Department of Transportation has already released $3 million in federal Emergency Relief funding to help the state repair its infrastructure.