Nov 1, 2011: Mass Delegation Calls for Federal Disaster Relief After Historic Oct Snowstorm
WASHINGTON, D.C. – All 12 members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation have signed a letter to President Obama in support of Governor Deval Patrick’s request for an emergency declaration for Massachusetts as a result of major damage caused by the historic October snowstorm. The storm contributed to the deaths of at least five individuals and power is out in more than 200 cities and towns throughout the state.
Below is the text of the letter:
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to you in strong support of Governor Deval Patrick’s request for an emergency declaration for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a result of major damage caused by severe weather across many areas of the state. The magnitude, scope and severity of the storm that began on October 29th and ended on October 30, 2011 are beyond the response capabilities of the Commonwealth and affected local governments. Accordingly, we are seeking the approval of Governor Patrick’s request for Federal Assistance, Category B, including direct Federal assistance for the counties of Berkshire, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk and Worcester.
This extraordinary storm produced more than 30 inches of heavy, wet snow and generated storm force winds of up to 67 mph. The storm’s impact was exacerbated by the fact that leaves are still on the trees, collecting snow and weight, and as a result, scores of trees were toppled by the storm, pulling down power lines and leaving more than half a million state residents without power. Approximately 43,000 of these outages have been suffered by municipal power companies. More than 48 towns have approximately 90 percent or more of their homes without power, with an additional 48 towns with approximately 50 percent of their homes without power. A total of 121 communities are without power in approximately 25 percent of their homes. The outages are expected to last for take days, and in some cases, more than a week as approximately 1,500 utility crews work as quickly as possible to restore power while dealing with blocked roads strewn with debris. The storm contributed to the deaths of at least five individuals.
The Governor has activated the National Guard to clear trees in 30 communities, and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation has 11 crews clearing trees with an additional 10 crews to be assigned. Despite these efforts, significant road closures persist in many communities, including 140 roads closed in the City of Springfield and dozens of roads closed in the City of Westfield. Due to fallen power lines, broken branches, and power outages throughout the Town of Lexington, residents have been forced to stay indoors for days after the storm.
This storm arrived while parts of western parts of Massachusetts are still recovering from Hurricane Irene in late August and a destructive tornado in early June. Since the beginning of this year, three federal disasters have been declared in Massachusetts, including a hurricane and tornadoes.
The Massachusetts Congressional Delegation respectfully requests an emergency declaration for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a result of the severe storm of October 29th and October 30, 2011 under the provisions of Section 501(a) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. We strongly support Governor Patrick’s request for federal funding for this major disaster.