Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell has sent a letter to President George W. Bush regarding last weekend’s flooding along the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers. Because many of the flood-impacted areas suffered extensive, multi-million dollar losses six months ago at the hands of Tropical Depression Ivan, the Governor requested that the damage assessment process be accelerated.
Dear President Bush:
“This past weekend, heavy rains triggered serious, widespread flooding across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and our neighboring states, New York and New Jersey. At least 10 Pennsylvania Counties in the Delaware and Susquehanna River basins were impacted. Based on conservative local estimates, more than 6,000 residents were forced to evacuate their homes as record and near-record flooding ravaged communities along the Delaware River, from Wayne County south to Bucks County. Along the Susquehanna River, serious flooding also impacted numerous communities. In many cases residents had to be rescued by boat from their flooded homes.
“As the destructive potential of this storm became evident, I activated the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Saturday, April 2, 2005, to coordinate information and support local emergency response. Nine state agencies and the American Red Cross were mobilized to staff the EOC. This included the Pennsylvania National Guard, which was placed on state active duty. On April 3, 2005, I proclaimed a State Disaster Emergency for those counties impacted by the flood.
“Federal agencies have also played an important role in the emergency response effort. National Weather Service personnel in State College, Binghamton, New York, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and the River Forecasting Center were instrumental in helping to keep our county emergency managers prepared for the rising waters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent staff to Harrisburg on Sunday, April 3, 2005, to assist in the EOC and provide support. FEMA representatives were also with my emergency management director and his staff as they surveyed by air the impacted area throughout the day on April 4, 2005. In many areas the floodwaters were just cresting.
“As the waters begin to recede, we can see that the destruction to homes, businesses and essential community infrastructure is both significant and widespread. For example, raging waters ravaged important historic areas in the New Hope and Yardley areas of Bucks County, the downtown commercial district in Easton, Northampton County, and the Greater Bloomsburg Area in Columbia County.
“Over the next few days, we will continue to work closely with FEMA and our county and community officials to document the extent of loss as required by the Robert T. Stafford Act (P. L. 93-288, as amended). Six state/federal teams will begin the detailed damage assessment within the affected counties on April 7, 2005. Initial assessments by state, county and local officials have already begun. Based on these initial assessments, it is likely that I will request a formal Presidential Disaster Declaration. In addition, because many of the impacted areas (including those noted above) suffered extensive, multi-million dollar losses just six months ago at the hands of Tropical Depression Ivan, I am asking that the Presidential Disaster Declaration process be accelerated.
“On behalf of all Pennsylvanians, and particularly for those who will need your help to rebuild their lives and communities, I appreciate your continued support.”
Edward G. Rendell
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