Mass. governor: Federal aid awarded to June 1 tornado victims

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick today announced federal aid has been awarded to Massachusetts individuals and businesses hardest hit by the June 1, 2011 tornados and storms.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will also provide aid in the form of reimbursement for much of the storm-related infrastructure damage, debris removal and emergency response costs incurred by local communities, eligible private non-profit organizations and state agencies.

“I would like to thank President Obama and his team at FEMA for providing this federal assistance so promptly,” said Gov. Patrick. “We have a lot to do to help our communities recover and rebuild, and it’s good to know we can count on our government to help.”

The assistance was authorized under a Major Federal Disaster Declaration issued by President Barack Obama after Gov. Patrick recently submitted a request for federal assistance for those areas most impacted by the June 1, 2011 tornadoes and storms. The President’s action makes “Individual Assistance (IA)” programs available to affected homeowners, renters and businesses in both Hampden and Worcester Counties and “Public Assistance” (PA) in Hampden County. FEMA continues to evaluate the damage data and supporting information related to Public Assistance requested for the communities of Southbridge and Sturbridge in Worcester County.

“It’s been an all hands on deck triage effort ever since the tornadoes tore through our communities, and this swift response from the White House is absolutely critical,” said Sen. John Kerry. “We’re deeply grateful. Last week, when I spoke to Bill Daley and SBA Administrator Karen Mills about the devastation on the ground, their sense of urgency was palpable and this action underscores that the federal relief will be there without delay to help us recover, repair and rebuild. We have a long way to go, but most importantly we’re all pulling in the same direction.”

Sen. Scott Brown  added: “The tornadoes that tore through Massachusetts earlier this month were unprecedented in their scale and the cruel destruction they left in their wake. Entire communities and families were uprooted by these storms’ savage force and a tremendous effort has gone into helping those affected put their lives back together. I am pleased that the President has made this declaration in order to help speed assistance to those in need.”

The available ‘Individual Assistance’ Programs administered by FEMA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) include the following: Individuals and Households Programs (IHP), Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Legal Assistance, Tax Relief, and Small Business Administration Disaster Loans.

FEMA will establish Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in each of the nine communities hit hardest by the June 1 storm system; and FEMA staff at each of these centers will work to help individuals and businesses in their recovery from the impacts of the severe storms and tornadoes. In addition to FEMA staff, several state agencies will also have representatives at the DRCs to help provide any state assistance that may be available.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties must register for assistance by calling the FEMA Tele-registration numbers: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired, or by registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov. Registration services will also be available at the FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers once the Centers are operational.

Under FEMA’s “Public Assistance” program, affected local governments, many private non-profit organizations and state agencies are eligible to apply for federal funds to be reimbursed for no less than a 75 percent federal share of storm-related overtime costs for emergency response, debris removal, and repair, restoration and/or reconstruction of public facilities and infrastructure damaged by the storm.

Procedures for requesting “Public Assistance” program funds will be explained at a series of applicant briefings for local officials at locations to be announced shortly by MEMA and FEMA. These briefings will explain the reimbursement process for receiving federal funds for eligible expenses incurred by local and state governments, as well as eligible non-profit organizations for infrastructure damage and eligible overtime costs.

For more information on assistance available under the Major Federal Disaster Declaration, please visit FEMA’s “Help After a Disaster” publication, available in several different languages, at http://www.fema.gov/assistance/process/guide.shtm, or the state’s storm recovery website at www.ma.gov/stormrecovery.