Governor Tom Wolf was joined by Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Padfield and Transportation Secretary Yassmin Gramian while visiting Horsham, Upper Dublin and Downingtown in Chester and Montgomery Counties. The administration, along with local leaders, spoke with residents and toured several areas affected by the severe weather and flooding brought by remnants of Hurricane Ida.
“Now that communities around the commonwealth have transitioned from response to recovery, I wanted to join other leaders in seeing the flooding and storm damage for myself and to talk to residents firsthand,” said Gov. Wolf. “As the recovery process gets underway, PEMA will be assisting counties with damage assessments to ascertain what level of federal support we can hope to qualify for.”
On Wednesday, Sept. 1, heavy rains throughout the state caused rapid increases in creeks, streams and rivers, with flooding throughout central and eastern Pennsylvania.
In a number of areas, major roadways were closed due to flooding affecting the roads and bridges. The number of closed roadways had decreased from 400 on Thursday to more than 160 this morning.
“Where necessary, we remain in disaster relief mode and we’re ensuring our teams have what they need,” Gramian said. “As the waters recede we will conduct post-flood road and bridge assessments and conduct bridge inspections when condition warrants.”
PennDOT estimates that approximately 800 bridges statewide will need post-flood inspections. To complete those inspections as quickly as possible, the department will deploy bridge inspectors and other resources from lesser impacted areas of the state to the most impacted areas.
“PEMA will be cooperating with our partners in local government to conduct damage assessments in as timely a fashion as possible,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “As communities begin cleaning up and making repairs, we want to urge those affected to document their efforts, take pictures of damages and keep copies of their receipts. Having access to these records can be very helpful in obtaining federal recovery assistance, should it be made available.”
To receive a federal disaster declaration for Public Assistance, which provides funding to governments and certain eligible non-profits to repair or replace damaged infrastructure, counties must meet individual thresholds that are based on population, and the commonwealth overall must meet a threshold of $19.6 million in damages. The governor recently sent a letter urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to lower the federal damage assessment thresholds required for these events to qualify for federal aid.
“It goes without saying, that my entire administration wants to thank the first responders, emergency management personnel and local officials who reacted so quickly to keep residents across the state out of harm’s way,” Gov. Wolf added. “I know that for many, this will be a long and complex recovery, and worst yet some families are dealing with the loss of loved ones. I want to thank everyone for their patience and willingness to help their friends and neighbors.”