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Press Release

For Immediate Release
July 16, 2013

Contact:
Communications Office
(603)271-2121

Governor Hassan Sends Letter to President Obama Requesting Disaster Declaration for Recent Flooding
Presidential Declaration Would Release Federal Aid for Cheshire, Grafton and Sullivan Counties

CONCORD - To help New Hampshire communities recover from recent flooding, Governor Maggie Hassan today asked President Obama to issue a major disaster declaration and provide emergency assistance for repairing the damage done by the severe rain and flooding event that lasted from June 26 through July 3.

"This severe storm and flooding caused widespread destruction to the state and community infrastructure in Cheshire, Grafton and Sullivan counties, as well as to the homes of families," Governor Hassan wrote. "I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments. Federal assistance is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources of the state, local governments, disaster relief organizations and compensation by insurance for disaster-related losses."

The Preliminary Damage Assessment conducted by the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has indicated that the total damage exceeded $6,252,800.00 for this disaster. The excessive heavy rain caused flash-flooding conditions, washed-out roads and evacuated homes throughout the western part of the state and severely impacted many communities in Cheshire, Grafton and Sullivan counties.

"I request that you expedite the issuance of a major declaration for New Hampshire so that the requested assistance programs will be available to meet the needs of the communities in the affected areas," Governor Hassan wrote to the President.

Full text of the Governor's letter to President Obama is below.

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D. C. 02500

Dear Mr. President:

Under the provisions of Section Major Disaster citation 401(a) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § (206.36), I request that you declare a major disaster for the State of New Hampshire as a result of a severe rain and flooding event from June 26, 2013 through July 3, 2013.

This severe storm resulted in significant and continuous rainfall causing significant flooding, flash floods, major road washouts, extensive debris and damage to state and local road infrastructure and facilities and to individual homeowners.

Rising river waters also put public safety at risk. On July 2, 2013 at approximately 3:15 p.m., two women who were wading in the Swift River in Albany, New Hampshire slipped and were swept down river over waterfalls. One of the women was swept almost two miles downstream and was rescued a hour later. The second woman's body was recovered by a US Forest Service and the Conway Swift Water Rescue team on July 3, 2013.

In response to the significant weather situation, I took appropriate action under state law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Operations Plan on July 2, 2013 in accordance to Section 401(a) of the Stafford Act. Additionally, I directed the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to actively direct and coordinate the state's emergency response and recovery to this event. I directed the Emergency Operations Center to a level II throughout the incident period. I also declared a state of emergency due to the severe weather.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the New Hampshire Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and local communities performed a joint Preliminary Damage Assessment from July 9-10, 2013. The Preliminary Damage Assessment indicated that the total county and state damage exceeded $6,252,800.00 for this disaster. The severe storm and flooding caused widespread destruction to the state and community infrastructure in Cheshire, Grafton and Sullivan counties, as well as to the homes of families. A just-opened nonprofit affordable housing complex sustained significant damage. Flash flooding and washout damage resulted in the closure of several major state roads as well as numerous local roads. Additional documentation on infrastructure damage and shelters is provided in the New Hampshire Impact Statement for this disaster.

Pursuant to 44 CFR § 206.36, I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments. Federal assistance is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources of the state, local governments, disaster relief organizations and compensation by insurance for disaster-related losses. I am specifically requesting all categories of Public Assistance (PA), A through G, for Cheshire, Grafton and Sullivan counties. I am also requesting that the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program be designated statewide.

I request that you expedite the issuance of a major declaration for New Hampshire so that the requested assistance programs will be available to meet the needs of the communities in the affected areas.

The State of New Hampshire has an approved standard Hazard Mitigation Plan dated November 1, 2010. The plan identifies flooding and flash flooding as a high-risk hazard and has prioritized projects to lessen the effects of severe events, such as this, statewide.

The state participates in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program. In addition, local hazard mitigation plans identify flooding and flash flooding as a severe hazard and prioritize projects to minimize the effects of these events.

Preliminary estimates of the types and amount of emergency assistance needed under the Stafford Act, and estimated requirements for assistance from certain federal agencies under other statutory authorities, are tabulated in Enclosure B (estimated requirements for Public Assistance).

The following information is furnished on the nature and amount of state and local resources that have been or will be used to alleviate the conditions of this disaster:

  1. The state's Emergency Operations Plan was activated on July 2, 2013 and I instructed the Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to staff the Emergency Operations Center. The Emergency Operations Center was initially staffed at level 2 to monitor the weather event and to respond to local requests. The Director initiated Emergency Support Functions as necessary to respond to this weather event.
  2. Early in the morning of July 3, 2013, I declared a state of emergency under New Hampshire law due to a prolonged and severe weather pattern bringing thunderstorms along with torrential and persistent rains.
  3. Emergency Support Functions of the Emergency Operations Plan that were activated and provided assistance were: Transportation, Communications and Alerting, Emergency Management, Public Works and Engineering, Mass Care, Law Enforcement. Other agencies that provided support were Environmental Services, Health and Human Services, Resources and Economic Development, Department of Safety including Homeland Security and Emergency Management, State Police, E-911 and Mapping, Transportation, the American Red Cross, Volunteer NH and the Department of Information Technology.
  4. During this weather event there were two (2) local emergency operations centers (LEOC) opened to respond to the needs and safety of communities—one in Lebanon and one in Washington. Activities included sheltering residents, clearing debris, restoring road access, and increasing security, monitoring dam and stream levels, conducting health and welfare checks to homes and coordinating response and recovery efforts.
  5. The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) provided technical and engineering assistance to hardest-hit communities by reopening local roads and culverts and will provide long range solutions to mitigating local infrastructure damaged in this event.
  6. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) provided stream monitoring and dam inspections following the flash flooding and landslides.

Total expenditures, in accordance with Enclosure C, Estimated Requirements for Other Federal Agency Programs, will be determined at a later date. I certify that for this emergency, the state and local governments will assume all applicable non-Federal shares of costs required by the Stafford Act in accordance with Enclosure D, Governors Certification.

I request direct federal assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property. The anticipated needs of the communities will far exceed the resources available to the state and local government. There were at least fourteen (14) communities with significant damages to local infrastructure, including road and culvert washouts and landslides. Repair costs may exceed local capability and pose life and safety issues.

This damage comes at a time when the state has already sustained two (2) declared disasters and three (3) state of emergencies in a 12-month period.

Hurricane Sandy was declared on November 28, 2012 and covered the incident period of October 26, 2012- November 8, 2012. The counties designated were Belknap, Carroll, Coos, Grafton and Sullivan. Rockingham was added on to the declaration on March 1, 2013.

The second incident was a severe snowstorm and was declared on March 19, 2013 covered the incident period on February 8-10, 2013. The designated counties were Belknap, Carroll, Cheshire, Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham, Strafford and Sullivan. We also received snow removal assistance with this declaration along with category B.

Over the course of the past 24 months New Hampshire has had a total of six declared disasters, and two emergency declarations. Under the 75/25 cost match, New Hampshire communities and state agencies have spent an estimated $4.5 million of their own funds. Many of these declarations are still ongoing and that estimate will increase.

New Hampshire is still actively responding to this disaster and assisting local communities in their recovery efforts. The State of New Hampshire Department of Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management contacted all of the communities within the three (3) affected counties. Public Assistance and Individual Assistance preliminary damage assessments were completed quantifying the amount of assistance that is needed. A declaration at this time is critical in accessing assistance that will be needed from federal resources. It is also critical in securing anticipated resources in place to protect life and public safety. I request Direct Federal Assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property, to include technical assistance for debris removal, assistance from the Natural Resource and Conservation Service, Army Corps of Engineers and the potential need from other federal resources as the extent of damages is fully developed.

In accordance with the 44 CFR § 206.208, the State of New Hampshire agrees that it will with respect to Direct Federal Assistance:

  1. Provide without cost to the United States all lands, easements and rights-of-way necessary to accomplish the approved work;
  2. Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the requested work, and indemnify the Federal Government against any claims arising from such work performed pursuant to this request;
  3. Provide reimbursement to FEMA for the non-Federal share of the cost of such work in accordance with the provisions of the FEMA-State Agreement; and
  4. Assist the performing Federal agency in all support and local jurisdictional matters.

As stated above, I anticipate the need for the removal of debris, which poses an immediate threat to lives, public health and safety. Pursuant to Sections 403 and 407 of the Stafford Act, 41 U.S.C. §§ 5170b & 5173, the state agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the United States of America for any claims arising from the removal of debris or wreckage for this disaster performed pursuant to this request. The state agrees that debris removal from public and private property will not occur until the landowner signs an unconditional authorization for the removal of debris.

I have designated Elizabeth R. Peck as the State Coordinating Officer for this request. She will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in continued damage assessments and write-ups and may provide further information or justification on my behalf.

Sincerely,

Margaret Wood Hassan
Governor