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PA Lawmakers Urge Biden to Approve Disaster Declaration Request for July Storms | WDIY Local News


Members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation are urging President Joe Biden to approve a major disaster declaration request, in response to severe storms that hit the state in July.

The bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers sent the letter to Biden on Thursday, asking him to approve a request made by Gov. Josh Shapiro after severe storms, straight-line winds, and flooding hit parts of Pennsylvania in July.

According to a joint release, the declarations would provide additional federal resources for each impacted area and accelerate recovery efforts.

The group includes U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-PA and U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, D-PA, and U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean, D-4; Chrissy Houlahan, D-6; Susan Wild, D-7; Dan Meuser, R-9; and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1.

The members’ letter notes that Shapiro submitted a request for a major disaster declaration, requesting individual and public assistance for Berks County and hazard mitigation for the state, after severe storms, winds, and flooding occurred on July 9.

The letter said lawmakers were writing to support this request, as well as extending assistance to include Bucks and Northampton counties, which were hit by storms approximately one week later.

“These Pennsylvania communities would benefit from federal assistance, and it is critical that Pennsylvania families and communities know that the federal government stands with them,” the members wrote.

“We urge you to approve Governor Shapiro’s current major disaster declaration request, as well as any that may follow for Bucks and Northampton Counties, as soon as possible.”.

The letter notes that in Northampton County, the rain and flooding overwhelmed Bangor Borough’s municipal storm system, which resulted in severe damage to homes and property.

In Berks County, flash flooding washed away a section of the Antietam Creek’s bank and the foundation of a nearby building, while in Bucks County seven people were killed by floodwaters, including two young children.

The full text of the delegation’s letter can be found here.

Earlier this week, Northampton County estimated that county-wide damages caused by the July 16 flash flooding stood at over $10 million, with 13 municipalities reporting damages and seven issuing disaster declarations.

However, County Executive Lamont McClure said federal assistance is not guaranteed. Pennsylvania must document at least $23,014,795 in damages for any county or the state to receive a federal disaster declaration.

(Original air-date: 8/17/23)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky was WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director until 2023.
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