Casey: FEMA Still Hasn’t Fully Reimbursed PA Counties for Preparation Costs for Hurricane Sandy- In Letter to FEMA, Senator Supports State’s Appeal

First Responders Took Measures to Protect Lives, Now Can’t Get Reimbursed by Feds

Failure to Reimburse Could Discourage Future Preparedness

Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released a letter to Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), calling on the agency to fully reimburse Pennsylvania counties for the costs they incurred while making preparations for hurricane Sandy. When Sandy was heading towards the East Coast, first responders across Pennsylvania made preparations to protect lives. Since the storm, FEMA has declined to fully reimburse the counties for these costs, which the state has appealed. Senator Casey’s letter to Administrator Fugate supports that appeal.

“First responders across Pennsylvania did everything in their power to protect residents from this oncoming storm. It’s time for the federal government to fully reimburse the counties for these costs,” Senator Casey said. “When first responders take action to enhance public safety during a federally declared disaster, the counties should be reimbursed. I will continue to press FEMA on this issue until our counties are made whole.”

Hurricane Sandy was predicted to be one of the worst storms 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.

Counties that have not currently been approved for reimbursement include: Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Butler, Cambria, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Delaware, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Snyder, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Venango, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York.

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter to FEMA can be seen below:

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