After Major Casey Effort: Obama Administration Agrees to Reimburse Philadelphia for Sandy Preparations

Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that the Obama Administration has agreed to reimburse Philadelphia for money it spent preparing for Hurricane Sandy. Originally, the Administration had denied Pennsylvania’s request to be fully reimbursed.  Senator Casey led the fight for the state--writing a letters to President Obama and FEMA Administrator Fugate and convening a meeting between FEMA and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) to push for aid.

“I’m pleased the Administration has done the right thing and decided to reimburse Philadelphia for the costs it incurred during preparations for Sandy,” Casey said. “The Commonwealth and local municipalities went to great efforts to minimize the amount of damage and it is welcome news that the Administration recognizes the extraordinary work our first responders did to prepare for the storm.”

In October, Senator Casey urged the Administration to grant a pre-landfall emergency declaration for Pennsylvania during Hurricane Sandy, which was approved.  The text of that letter can be found here. While the emergency declaration provided some resources to the state, a disaster declaration allows counties to receive additional resources and aid to move forward on the recovery effort.  

On December 18th, Senator Casey called on FEMA to make additional communities eligible for reimbursement for expenses related to pre-storm preparedness measures.  Local governments and first responders took significant steps to prepare for the storm, including pre-staging supplies, equipment and response teams where it appeared they would be most needed.  These measures helped to mitigate the impact of Hurricane Sandy, but have not yet been approved to be reimbursed through FEMA. 

Philadelphia marks the 18th county added to FEMA’s disaster declaration for Pennsylvania.  To date, Bedford, Bucks, Cameron, Dauphin, Forest, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Somerset, Sullivan, and Wyoming counties qualify for reimbursement from FEMA for emergency preparedness and debris removal.  Senator Casey will continue to fight for the remaining counties that need reimbursement. 

Most recently, Senator Casey wrote to Administrator Fugate urging FEMA to review the Pennsylvania’s appeal to add additional counties to the declaration. 

The full text of the most recent letter to the Administration can be found below:

January 30, 2013

Mr. W. Craig Fugate

Administrator

Federal Emergency Management Agency

500 C Street, SW

Washington, DC 20472

Dear Administrator Fugate:

I write in strong support of the appeal made by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to amend the emergency declaration for Hurricane Sandy to include reimbursement for emergency protective measures and debris removal for all counties. 

On October 29, 2012, the President granted Pennsylvania’s request to declare an emergency in the Commonwealth prior to Hurricane Sandy’s landfall.  It is my understanding that this declaration was limited to direct federal assistance and did not include reimbursement for the essential, life-saving measures undertaken by state and county officials prior to the impact of the storm. 

Hurricane Sandy was predicted to be the worst storm in the history of the Commonwealth.  Based on the projections of the United States Army Corp of Engineers, the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state and local entities took necessary measures to prepare for the impending emergency.  Fortunately, these measures helped to mitigate the impact of Hurricane Sandy and protected the majority of Pennsylvania’s counties from significant damage.

On January 10, 2013, the President granted a major disaster declaration that approved seventeen counties, mostly in eastern Pennsylvania, to be eligible to receive all categories of disaster assistance.  Though this declaration has helped to assist in recovery efforts, it is not far reaching enough to account for the significant resources that all counties expended leading up to the storm.

By failing to provide reimbursement for these expenses, FEMA is placing undue stress on the already tight budgets of many local entities.  Moreover, I am concerned that if reimbursement is not available, municipalities may not be able, or even discouraged, to best prepare for similar events in the future.  I know you share my commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of my constituents.  

I respectfully request you to expedite your consideration of this appeal and keep me apprised of any new developments.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly or have your staff contact Catherine Murray on my staff at 202-228-3787.  Thank you for your attention to this request. 

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

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