U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) were joined by members of Maryland's Congressional Delegation today in sending a letter to President Barack Obama supporting Governor O'Malley's appeal for Individual Disaster Assistance for the five Maryland counties, including Dorchester, Garrett, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties, that experienced the most severe damage as a result Super-Storm Sandy.
The letter was signed by Senators Mikulski and Cardin, as well as U.S. Representatives Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Roscoe E. Bartlett (R-Md.), Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.), Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) and Andy Harris (R-Md.).
"This is a dire situation in need of swift resolution," Team Maryland wrote. "We are very concerned about the impact that a lack of federal relief is having on our communities and believe that the supplemental information that you have received demonstrates the real need of the residents in these areas."
Though President Obama approved Governor O'Malley's request for a Major Disaster Declaration, FEMA denied Maryland's request for Individual Disaster Assistance. This type of assistance provides critical housing assistance and disaster-related support for families and individuals coping with the immediate aftermath of the storm.
Last week, Senators Mikulski and Cardin participated in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing "Hurricane Sandy: Response and Recovery -- Progress and Challenges" where they called for immediate action on support for the Lower Shore. Both Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate testified at this hearing. Administrator Fugate committed to work with Governor O'Malley on the appeal for Individual Disaster Assistance.
Team Maryland has been vigilant in seeking disaster assistance since Sandy hit the Atlantic coast in October.
Senators Mikulski and Cardin led the Maryland delegation in urging President Obama to support a Pre-Disaster Declaration, Disaster Declaration and Individual Assistance for Maryland counties impacted by Super-Storm Sandy. The delegation also urged the President to approve Governor O'Malley's updated request for Individual Disaster Assistance.
The full text of the letter to President Obama follows:
December 12, 2012
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We write to lend our strong support for the Appeal of Denial of Individual Assistance submitted by Governor O'Malley on December 12, 2012. His letter makes specific requests for all categories of Individual Assistance for the counties of Dorchester, Garrett, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester.
This is a dire situation in need of swift resolution. We are very concerned about the impact that a lack of federal relief is having on our communities and believe that the supplemental information that you have received demonstrates the real need of the residents in these areas.
This storm had a tremendous impact on our state over a month ago. Sandy brought not only severe flooding and strong winds to the Eastern Shore, but also blizzard conditions to mountainous Western Maryland. A total of 340 homes statewide sustained major damage and 13 were completely destroyed. As we have mentioned previously, some of these counties have the highest rates of poverty in our state, namely Somerset County. There, in the most affected locality of Crisfield, nearly one in every three resident's lives below the federal poverty line.
Maryland is grateful for the continued work of its federal partners as we work toward a solution on this. The individual assistance requested by the Governor will undoubtedly provide vital resources to our state. We appreciate your full consideration of this appeal, and look forward to continue working with you in this recovery.