Massachusetts cities, towns flooded out vow to fight Biden for disaster declaration

Lance Reynolds, Boston Herald on

Published in Weather News

BOSTON — The Biden administration has declared the cities and towns that suffered “catastrophic damage” from flooding in Massachusetts last September won’t be receiving help from the feds, but the governor and at least one mayor have indicated they will continue to fight for assistance.

Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella, in a Tuesday memo, called it “almost unbelievable” that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied Gov. Maura Healey’s request for President Biden to declare a major disaster in Bay State communities hit hard by the “devastating floods.”

Mazzarella said his city worked with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency for three months following the storm, compiling information that showed how the floods caused $35 million in city damage, affecting 1,400 homes and businesses.

“Whether it was additional information on individual homes, businesses, or city damage, we worked night and day to get every piece of information they requested to them by each deadline that was set,” Mazzarella said. “Yet, President Biden and FEMA opted not to approve the declaration.”

“We are not done. Leominster has never backed down from a challenge, and this is no exception,” the mayor added.

Heavy rains and flooding left roads and homes damaged in Leominster and North Attleboro and prompted Healey to declare a four-day state of emergency as crews worked to clean up the municipalities. The storms required evacuations, water rescues, and the construction of temporary roadways so first responders and residents could access homes.


Attleboro, Lancaster, Princeton, Springfield and Sterling also received support from MEMA during their recovery.

Healey submitted the request for the disaster declaration in December, with the governor looking to open the door to a FEMA-run program that provides federal assistance for individuals and public infrastructure. MEMA works with federal counterparts to assess potentially reimbursable damages caused by or related to a disaster.

Hazard mitigation assistance, which provides dollars to reduce disaster losses, is also made available.

But in a letter sent to Healey on Sunday, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell alerted the governor that her request for a major disaster declaration had been denied.


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