WILKES-BARRE — Gov. Tom Wolf sent a letter Tuesday to President Donald Trump, requesting $7.2 million in federal disaster aid for nine Pennsylvania counties, including more than $2.6 million for Luzerne County.
Besides Luzerne, Wolf made the request on behalf of Bradford, Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Northumberland, Pike, Wayne and Montour counties to help offset the financial burden of March’s record-breaking blizzard.
“This snowstorm required the resources of all state and local snow removal capabilities, including state and local road crews and equipment, and countless hours of staff time to ensure the health, welfare and safety of the public and property,” Wolf said.
The governor said the severity and magnitude of the March storm stretched state resources well beyond limits, which is why he believes supplemental federal assistance is now necessary.
According to information provided by the governor’s office:
• A major disaster declaration through the Federal Emergency Management Agency would provide federal funding to local, county and state governments, as well as certain eligible nonprofits in those counties.
• Applicants can be reimbursed up to 75 percent of the costs incurred on eligible expenses for a 48-hour time period.
• Eligible expenses can include — but are not limited to — employee overtime, repairs to damaged infrastructure, equipment rentals and materials.
On March 13, Wolf signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, which is a required step to request federal aid.
In justifying the $7.2 million request, Wolf provided the following information:
• The severe weather conditions generated significant transportation issues, including preemptive road closures, numerous accidents, and disabled or stranded vehicles. Authorities had to close portions of the state’s major transportation corridors, including Interstates 81, 80, 84, 380, and portions of the Northeast extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
• An avalanche closed a vital auxiliary route between two of the affected counties.
• The conditions generated significant life-safety issues, such as the rescue of stranded motorists.
• The severity of the snowstorm depleted financial resources for many of the municipalities located in the nine counties. The City of Wilkes-Barre alone previously submitted storm cleanup costs of $678,155 for reimbursement.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.
WOLF SEEKS $7.2M
Here’s what Gov. Tom Wolf is seeking in federal storm reimbursement, broken down by county:
• Luzerne County: $2,640,384
• Lackawanna County: $2,022,195
• Bradford County: $540,823
• Wayne County: $470,254
• Northumberland County: $420,817
• Pike County: $360,559
• Wyoming County: $248,957
• Montour County: $114,796
• State agencies: $67,940