Relief for persons with flood damages (One Response)

On Sunday, April 4, the Executive Office of Public Safety sent the report below
to members of the legislature. Notably, it includes a summary of aid to individuals
available for damages arising from the two floods in March.

Most importantly, if you have experienced flood related losses, you should move quickly
to start a FEMA relief application by phone use 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or go to FEMA’s website.

If you run in to problems, feel free to call my office, 617-722-2800, x7115 for assistance.

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Dear Senator, Representative, Legislative Aides/Staffers:

Here is an update on state response and recovery efforts resulting
from last week’s flooding in the central and eastern portions of the
state:

Overview

On Sunday, March 28th, in anticipation of heavy rains and severe
flooding, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) began
coordinating state preparedness and response efforts and communicating
via conference calls with local emergency management directors across
the state. Additionally, the Governor ordered a large call-up of
National Guard troops to assist cities and towns in emergency response
efforts.

On Monday, March 29th, as the heavy rain began, MEMA was fully
activated in the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in
Framingham and in its regional offices in Bridgewater, Tewksbury and
Agawam. The SEOC was staffed by MEMA personnel and members of the
Massachusetts Emergency Management Team (MEMT) that is comprised of
representatives of many agencies and organizations, including (but not
limited to) MassDOT, DCR, State Police, National Guard, United States
Coast Guard, Environmental Police, Department of Fire Services,
American Red Cross, FEMA, and Department of Public Health. The SEOC
remained fully activated on a 24/7 basis through Friday, April 2nd.
As the week progressed, the state emergency management agencies in
Vermont and Maine, and the Barnstable County Incident Management Team
also sent personnel to the SEOC to assist with logistics and
operations. From March 29th through April 2nd, MEMA received hundreds
of requests for emergency assistance from cities and towns in 7
counties (Worcester, Middlesex, Essex, Suffolk, Plymouth, Norfolk,
Bristol). In almost every instance, the SEOC managed and fulfilled
these requests, which included requests for delivery and placement of
sandbags, pumps and pumping operations, assistance with evacuations,
transportation equipment and support, engineering and roadway
inspections, building inspections, public health inspections, road
repairs, traffic management, sheltering, fire mutual aid, police and
security assistance, helicopter surveillance, management of and
response to sewerage issues, boats, waterway management, and dam
inspections.

The Massachusetts National Guard was fully engaged throughout the
flooded regions in emergency response efforts. On each day from March
29th through April 2nd, over 1,000 Guard army and air soldiers were on
active state-duty fulfilling a range of missions, including filling
and transporting sandbags, building sandbag containment walls,
evacuating flooded homes, transporting equipment and personnel,
opening flooded roadways, directing traffic, providing security
patrols in evacuated areas, and conducting well-being checks of
residents in inaccessible areas.

By late Friday, April 2nd, requests to MEMA for emergency assistance
had all but ended. As a result, over this past weekend, MEMA reduced
its activation level (but is still maintaining above-normal staffing
levels) and the National Guard de-mobilized its forces. Of course,
MEMA always is staffed on a 24/7 basis and remains ready to assist
with new requests for resources and support, and the National Guard
stands ready to deploy soldiers if the need arises.

Local building officials, particularly in the southeast part of the
state, have expressed the need for support in conducting building
inspections to determine whether homes and other buildings should be
temporarily or permanently condemned. Additionally, there will be a
need for support as repairs are made and tenants and owners call for
building inspections to determine habitability. Accordingly, the
state Department of Public Safety will meet with local building
officials on April 6th to pledge and coordinate state support to local
building officials. This meeting will take place at the Middleborough
Town Hall, 10 Nickerson Avenue, Middleborough, at 10 AM on April 6th.

Current River Conditions

Flood warnings remain in effect for Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk and
Worcester Counties.

The following major rivers are still in moderate flood stage:

Charles River at Dover
Taunton River at Bridgewater

The following rivers are still at minor flood stage:

Merrimack River at Lawrence
Ipswich River at Ipswich
Concord River at Lowell
Assabet River at Maynard
Sudbury River at Saxonville
Nashua River at East Pepperell
Charles River at Dover
Mill River at Taunton

Note: The National Weather Service forecast for the next few days does
not include any signficant rainfall.

Recovery Efforts/Issues

MEMA is transitioning from an immediate response mode to longer-term
recovery efforts.

1. Assistance to Individuals, Families and Businesses

On Monday, March 29th, the President issued an Individual Assistance
Disaster Declaration for the following seven counties impacted by the
rain that fell between March 12 and 15, 2010: Worcester, Middlesex,
Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth and Bristol. On Friday, April 2nd,
FEMA confirmed that the current Individual Assistance Disaster
Declaration includes individuals, families and businesses impacted by
the rain and flooding that began on March 29th. This means that FEMA
already is accepting assistance applications from people and
businesses in the 7 counties included in Disaster Declaration.
Indeed, over 5,000 applications for assistance already have been filed
with FEMA. Individuals, families and businesses that suffered losses
in the 7 counties should be urged to apply to FEMA for assistance as
soon as possible. The application process can be initiated by calling
1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and
speech impaired, or registering on-line at www.fema.gov. In the next
week, FEMA also will be opening walk-in Disaster Recovery Centers in
the 7 counties.

Individual Assistance Programs administered by FEMA and the Small
Business Administration include Individuals and Households Programs
(IHP), Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Legal
Assistance, Tax Relief, and Small Business Administration low interest
loans.

During the next week, MEMA and FEMA will assess impacts from last
week’s rain and flooding to see if other counties (particularly
Hampden and Hampshire) may be eligible for inclusion in the current
Individual Assistance Disaster Declaration.

With respect to unemployment assistance, individuals in the 7 counties
that are included in the current Disaster Declaration are eligible for
disaster unemployment assistance benefits. The unemployment
assistance eligibility began on March 14, 2010, and the disaster
declaration assistance runs through October 2, 2010. The filing
deadline for individuals eligible for assistance is May 3, 2010. An
individual must be continuously unemployed as a result of the disaster
in order to continue receiving Disaster Unemployment Assistance and,
if eligible, he or she can collect benefits for the weeks during which
they fulfilled the necessary criteria. Workers who experience
temporarily job loss because of the disaster and who do not qualify
for state Unemployment Insurance Benefits, such as self-employed
individuals, may also be eligible for Disaster Unemployment
Assistance. To apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance an
individual must first file for regular Unemployment Insurance. He or
she must file an application by the deadline of May 3, 2010, with the
Division of Unemployment Assistance at 617-626-6800 or visit a walk-in
claims agent at one of Massachusetts’ 37 One-Stop Career centers.

Tax Filing Deadlines: On Friday April 2nd, the Department of Revenue
and the Internal Revenue Service announced that deadlines for filing
certain state and federal tax returns will be postponed for most
people and businesses in the 7 counties included in the current
Disaster Declaration. Detailed information can be found on the IRS
website at http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=220830,00.html
and the Department of Revenue website at
http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=dorterminal&L=5&L0=Home&L1=Tax+Professionals&L2=News+and+Reports&L3=DOR+Press+Releases&L4=2010+Press+Releases&sid=Ador&b=terminalcontent&f=dor_news_pressreleases_2010_filing_deadline_extended&csid=Ador

2. Public Assistance

If the President issues a Public Assistance Disaster Declaration, the
state, and cities/towns in counties included in the Declaration, will
be reimbursed by FEMA for 75% of eligible Public Assisstance costs.
Public Assistance costs are those costs associated with emergency
response to the flooding (emergency protective measures) and repairs
to infrastructure such as roads, bridges, culverts, sewers, and public
buildings.

To be eligible for a Public Assistance Disaster Declaration, the state
must first show that total local and state Public Assistance costs
resulting from the rains of last week and March 12-15 exceed $8.1M.
Once this state-wide threshold is met, counties are eligible to be
included in the Declaration if they meet population based Public
Assistance damage thresholds. The approximate county thresolds are:

Bristol — $1.7M
Essex — $2.3M
Middlesex — $4.68M
Norfolk — $2.07M
Plymouth — $1.54M
Suffolk — $2.34M
Worcester — $2.5M
Barnstable — $687K
Hampden — $1.47M
Hampshire — $485K
Franklin — $223K
Berkshire — $402K
Dukes — $49K
Nantucket — $35K

The process of formally estimating the state-wide and county Public
Assistance costs will begin towards the middle of this coming week.
FEMA, in partnership with MEMA (and supported by other agencies such
as the National Guard), will dispatch Preliminary Damage Assessment
(PDA) teams into the counties that incurred, or will incur Public
Assistance costs as a result of the rains last week and March 12-15.
These PDA teams will meet with local officials to survey and estimate
Public Assistance costs. The sole purpose of deploying these PDA
teams is to determine whether the Public Assistance costs exceed the
applicable state-wide and county thresholds. As soon as sufficient
information is gathered to determine that thresholds will be met, the
PDA process will end. Cities and towns should not be concerned if
they are not visited by a PDA team, or a visiting PDA team does not
see all of the infrastructure damage in the community.

The Governor is prepared to formally ask the President to issue a
Public Assistance Disaster Declaration as soon as the PDA teams
determine whether state-wide Public Assistance costs exceed $8.1M, and
which counties will exceed their Public Assistance thresholds.

Local officials already have many questions about which costs are
eligibile for reimbursement under a Public Assistance Disaster
Declaration, how to apply for reimbursement if such a declaration is
issued, and how quickly FEMA will issue reimbursement checks. If the
President issues a Public Assistance Disaster Declaration, FEMA will
open a Joint Field Office in Massachusetts and promptly will hold
regional briefing sessions (called Applicant Briefings) with local
officials to answer these questions.

Regards,

Layla

Layla D’Emilia
Assistant Secretary of Policy & Legislative Affairs
Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
One Ashburton Place
Room 2133, Boston, MA 02108
617-727-7775 x25560
Fax: 617-727-4764
layla.d’[email protected]

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