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State, communities to get federal aid for costs of Jan. storm

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Published on March 7, 2011 in The Boston Globe MetroDesk Blog

President Obama declared today that the swirling nor’easter that blanketed the state with snow on Jan. 11 and 12 was a major disaster. The declaration makes state and local governments eligible for reimbursement of 75 percent of their costs of battling the storm, officials said.

The aid will cover a range of spending, including equipment and manpower for snowplowing, salting, and sanding. The aid be available in Berkshire, Essex, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, and Suffolk counties. Only those counties are eligible because the snowfall met or exceeded their record snowfalls, said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Each community can choose a 48-hour period for which they will get reimbursed. Communities may shift that period earlier if they spent more money preparing for the storm, or they may shift it later if they spent more money cleaning up, Judge said. The Berkshire County window for reimbursement will be 72 hours because it exceeded its record snowfall by 16 inches – with 38 inches recorded, compared with the previous record of 22 inches.

“The important thing for communities is receiving this money back,” said Judge.

In addition, communities in all counties in the state can receive a 75 percent reimbursement for repair and recovery of damaged property, though Judge said these measures aren’t generally needed after snowstorms.

“In an event like this, it’s a very small piece of the pie,” he said.

MEMA officials will meet with local officials to explain the reimbursement process and go over what is eligible for compensation.

“To be honest, every couple of years we have this type of snow event reimbursement so this won’t be new ground for a lot of these communities,” said Judge.

The process will be overseen by James N. Russo, who has been named the federal coordinating officer for the recovery operations.

Judge said the announcement is good news, a sentiment echoed by Senator John Kerry earlier today.

“While most of the ice and snow have finally melted away, tons of people are still hurting from the damage left behind,” Senator Kerry said. “People missed work, homes lost power, and businesses had to close their doors. We’re grateful to President Obama for making this declaration and giving us the financial assistance that comes with it.”

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Written by jdunccc

March 7, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Posted in MetroDesk Blog, The Boston Globe

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