The Obama Administration has declared 26 counties in Pennsylvania as disaster areas as a result of the storms between February 5 and 10 that dumped about 2 feet of snow on communities across the state.
The state, counties and municipalities will be getting about $50 million in federal disaster aid to cover expenses stemming from the back-to-back winter storms. The counties covered by the disaster declaration include Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Somerset and Westmoreland. Communities within those counties may be eligible for snow assistance which covers costs for snow removal, snow dumps, de-icing, and salting and sanding of roads; and, public assistance to repair or replace disaster-damaged facilities.
FEMA usually pays for 75% of the costs. Congressman Tim Murphy (R-Allegheny County) from the South Hills says the remainder of the costs will likely have to be picked up by the local governments or the state or a combination. Murphy says he's very pleased with the declaration....
"Our local communities were walloped not just with snow, but the price tag that came from snow removal and repairing infrastructure damage. Without federal disaster assistance to rebuild and recover the costs from the storms, our local communities were faced with cuts to other essential services to make ends meet throughout the budget year. With this disaster declaration, help is on the way.”
Governor Ed Rendell's chief of staff, Steve Crawford, said an additional $6 million may be available for local projects to mitigate future disasters. State emergency-management chief Robert French estimates it may take four to six weeks for the aid to be distributed. Congressman Murphy says the next step is for the communities to work with the state and FEMA to get the funds.