Friday, February 12, 2010

Federal Assistance is Uncertain

Dealing with 2 winter storms in the past week has caused municipalities and counties to rack up expenses for lots of overtime and contracting of private equipment. That doesn't include any damages to public infrastructure and buildings from the storms. However, Congressman Tim Murphy of Allegheny County says a change in FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) rules in November might block local governments from getting any federal disaster assistance because the snow did not fall all at once and the clean up costs were spread over several days. Murphy says he and members of Congress from other states blanketed by the snow are hoping to convince FEMA that while there were 2 storms, it was one incident because communities were still digging out from the weekend storm when the snow began again on Tuesday.
Murphy says the storm-related costs are hitting smaller communities particularly hard...
"Just to go out and hire someone to use a front end loader or a plow to do a road is a much larger percentage of an expense than it is for a city, particularly rural communities where they have long stretches of road where unless they were cleared, people were in absolute isolation for several days."
Murphy says that if FEMA doesn't provide assistance, the president could declare a "disaster" and he wishes that the president "would just do that."
Murphy says the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is working with local governments to keep good records of expenses to submit to FEMA.

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