Massachusetts governor appeals denial of federal disaster aid for flooding

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BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Maura Healey is appealing a decision of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deny the state’s request for a major disaster declaration to support Massachusetts cities and towns battered by severe weather and flooding in September.

Healey said the state has appreciated FEMA’s partnership but is concerned that the federal agency’s assessment of her request failed to include certain identified costs.

“These storms were devastating for our communities. I saw the impacts firsthand – homes and businesses were destroyed, roadways and bridges were inaccessible, and some residents had to be evacuated. Six months later, they are still rebuilding,” Healey said in a letter Monday to President Joe Biden

“The state has done all that we can to support their recovery, but the needs far outpace our available resources.” Healey added.

In her letter, Healey noted that Springfield experienced what she described as a catastrophic water main break attributed to the failure of a culvert and subsequent erosion related to the rainfall experienced on the evening of Sept. 11.

Healey said the city of Leominster submitted a list of 56 damaged sites, but FEMA only included seven in its validation process.

Healey urged FEMA to reconsider the state’s request.

“Our communities must know that both their state and federal governments understand the severe challenges and stress they are facing, and that we are here to help,” Healey wrote.

“Their recovery is particularly daunting given the knowledge that the next severe storm could be around the corner, as we continue to see the escalating impacts of climate change,” she added.