FEMA Denies Individual Assistance to Maryland Families Hit by Sandy

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, FEMA has denied Maryland a presidential disaster declaration that would allow Maryland to qualify for federal funding to families affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Families in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, have received the aid.  Many families were displaced by the storm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, as described,

Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall Oct. 29 near Atlantic City, N.J., significantly damaged about four dozen homes in Worcester, Dorchester and Somerset counties and caused less serious damage to hundreds more, federal assessments found.

Overall, the storm caused more than $27 million damage in Maryland.

Days after the storm Gov. Martin O’Malley asked that affected individuals be allowed to apply for a disaster program that pays for housing, medical and other living expenses.

Asked to explain the denial during a hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said the extent of destruction on the Eastern Shore was simply not significant enough to provide the aid.

“We’ve looked at that and made the determination and recommendation — the president concurred — that at this point, the information doesn’t support a major presidential disaster declaration,” Fugate said.

Members of Maryland’s Congressional Delegation publicly challenged the decision in a hearing on storm relief yesterday on Capitol Hill.  As reported by the Baltimore Sun,

U.S. Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin publicly challenged on Wednesday a federal decision not to provide aid to Maryland residents affected by Hurricane Sandy — calling on President Barack Obama and federal emergency officials to rethink the decision.

“It’s a sad day in Maryland,” Mikulski said at a hearing on storm relief efforts before the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, holding up a copy of The Baltimore Sun reporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision Tuesday to deny Maryland families aid.

As described by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency,

Maryland had sought individual assistance as part of the requested presidential disaster declaration for Dorchester, Somerset and Worcester counties. . . Maryland has 30 days to file the appeal and will continue to supply updated damage information [to FEMA] as it becomes available. Homeowners, renters and business owners who suffered damages not covered under existing insurance policies are urged to make sure that county emergency managers in Dorchester, Somerset and Worcester counties have been made aware of those damages.

Worcester County’s Emergency Services Director Owens will be speaking at MACo’s upcoming Winter Conference on the role of local government in emergency response, and interaction with federal and state partners.  Conference information is now available.

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