Mayor Dan Rizzo joined the growing ranks of state and local officials who were gravely disappointed with President Barack Obama in granting a far narrower disaster declaration for last winter than expected – and shorting Revere and other cities and towns potentially $200 million.
Mayor Rizzo said on Tuesday – following the declaration on Monday afternoon – that the president did not recognize the extreme impacts imposed by the consecutive storms that hit the area in one month’s time.
“While I am grateful for the assistance we’re receiving for one storm, I am disappointed that the President was unwilling to recognize the continuous impact that these many storms over the course of the worst winter to hit our area in recorded history had on so many Massachusetts communities,” said Mayor Rizzo. “In light of this decision to not help fund the cleanup and removal costs, the financial impacts will be borne by the taxpayers and felt for quite some time.”
Revere’s snow cleanup costs were the highest in years, estimated at somewhere around $1 million. While officials are allowed to carry over snow costs to next year by state law, Revere and other municipalities had hoped for extensive federal disaster aid to assist in handling the plowing and removal costs that built up as high as the snowbanks along the City streets.
It wasn’t so, however,
Gov. Charlie Baker had travelled to Washington, D.C., on Monday to plead his case with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the White House. He had called for a 28-day disaster declaration, which would have unlocked hundreds of millions of dollars in federal disaster aid to help the state and municipalities like Revere.
However, President Obama only declared a disaster for Jan. 26-28 – the first major snowstorm that hit this winter and was dubbed ‘Snowstorm Juno.’
That narrow declaration did not include any of the other major snowstorms that hit continuously and intermittently throughout February.
Instead of more than $200 million in disaster aid, the state will see $90 million.
In a news conference at Logan Airport on Monday night, Baker said he was “disappointed” with the declaration, but would use the $90 million in disaster aid as a starting place.
The President’s action makes federal funding available to commonwealth, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by a severe winter storm, snowstorm and flooding in Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Middlesex, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Worcester counties.
In addition, federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for snow assistance for a continuous 48-hour period during or proximate to the incident period in Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Worcester counties.
Mark H. Landry has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.
Landry said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the commonwealth and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.