Reed & Whitehouse Urge Obama Administration to Expand Disaster Declaration for RI
PROVIDENCE, RI - In an effort to help Rhode Island families and businesses devastated by historic flooding, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today sent a letter to President Obama urging him to expand his federal disaster proclamation to cover the entire state and increase federal disaster assistance to both the public and individuals.
Yesterday, after requests from the Senators and Governor Carcieri, the Obama Administration declared Kent, Newport, Providence and Washington Counties as major disasters, paving the way for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to send response teams to flood stricken areas and open Disaster Response Centers where residents and businesses can get assistance with filing disaster relief paperwork.
"I applaud the Obama Administration for moving quickly to help Rhode Island. We are facing a severe flood crisis that needs immediate attention and additional federal resources to help families and businesses cope with the damage," said Reed.
"I have been touring the flooded areas of the state and have seen firsthand just how devastating these storms have been to our homes, businesses, and neighborhoods. While the declaration from the Obama Administration will bring welcome relief, the historic magnitude of this crisis demands the expansion of the declared disaster area and an inclusion of public assistance," said Whitehouse.
On March 19th Reed and Whitehouse joined state and federal emergency officials from FEMA on a tour of flood damaged areas along the Pawtuxet River. They also wrote letters to FEMA on March 16th and called FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel about the situation.
Today's letter described the escalating flood situation along the Pawtuxet and several other rivers in the state that have reached flood stage and concluded: "we urge you to expand the current disaster declaration to cover the entire State of Rhode Island and ask that it include both public and individual assistance. In addition, we ask that you consider an emergency declaration in order to provide support to state and local first responders and the National Guard."
The full text of the letter follows:
March 30, 2010
Dear Mr. President:
We write to thank you for your assistance yesterday in declaring a major disaster in the state of Rhode Island for flooding that occurred beginning on March 12, 2010. Regrettably, last night Rhode Island began to experience even greater flooding. Several rivers in the state have reached flood stage, including the Pawtuxet River, which is expected to exceed its historic high-water mark by two to five feet.
This amount of water has stretched the capacity of state and local first responders and is endangering public health and safety. For example, the Warwick Wastewater Treatment Plant is in danger of overflowing, mudslides have been reported on and near local roads, and significant beach erosion has been documented. Many Rhode Islanders who were displaced by flooding a little more than a week ago are again being forced to flee their homes. In addition, other areas of the state not included in the yesterday's declaration are also experiencing significant damage to public and private property. As we emphasized in our letter last week, Rhode Island's state and local governments have scant financial resources to support a robust recovery effort. Moreover, the resources of state and local first responders are being stretched thin.
With that in mind, we urge you to expand the current disaster declaration to cover the entire State of Rhode Island and ask that it include both public and individual assistance. In addition, we ask that you consider an emergency declaration in order to provide support to state and local first responders and the National Guard.
Thank you, again, for your continuing support of Rhode Island during this time of great need.
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