Wolf requested the declaration Wednesday — his emergency management director said Pennsylvania couldn't have sent its request sooner because it took days on the ground to assess the damage.
"Pennsylvanians will now have opportunities to receive financial assistance," Wolf said Friday evening after Biden's approval, "which will go a long way toward replacing and restoring their property."
Local officials said it was much-needed. A Montgomery County spokesperson said officials were "doing everything we can" but were "limited" until the federal approval. In Bridgeport, borough manager Keith Truman questioned why the declaration was "lagging behind" the other states.
Many praised the volunteers, Red Cross workers, local and school district leaders, and nonprofits who pulled together to help those affected, but recognized their assistance couldn't last.
In Coatesville, for instance, volunteers were not allowed inside some homes after Friday because of mold concerns, said Jen Manthey, flood relief coordinator for Brandywine Valley Active Aging. And the city cannot afford to fund long-term housing or rebuilding for affected residents, said Logan.
The story was similar in Bridgeport, where volunteers helped clear 260 metric tons of debris from homes and streets in under a week, and the police chief said donors paid to put 130 people in hotels.
"Without that aid I cannot imagine how our streets, as well as the insides of the many flood-ravaged structures, would still look at this point," but the borough and residents need the federal aid to get homes repaired, Truman said.
Bridgeport Police Chief Todd Bereda said Friday that the frustration among residents waiting for assistance had been palpable.
"[The aid] is imperative for a place that has a lot of low-income folks," he said. "They don't have a lot of excess monies. They might not have light at the end of the tunnel."
The time between when a disaster strikes, an emergency is declared, and the aid starts flowing often takes days, and progress sometimes occurs in "spurts," said Stephen Strader, a Villanova University geography professor who studies hazards and disasters.