Trump administration denies federal aid to Pa. for Winter Storm Stella cleanup
Pennsylvania will not get federal funds to help offset costs incurred from cleaning up northeastern Pennsylvania following Winter Storm Stella's record-breaking snow in March, according to Gov. Tom Wolf.
The Wolf administration said Thursday afternoon that its request to President Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration has been denied.
Wolf declared a disaster emergency throughout the commonwealth on March 13 due to the impending snow. The storm resulted in damages of about $7.2 million, the administration said last week in a letter to Trump.
"This disaster declaration would have provided much-needed financial assistance to hard-hit communities in northeastern Pennsylvania," Wolf said. "I want to thank county and local emergency managers and responders for all of their hard efforts in responding to this storm and helping us make our case for this disaster declaration request."
In his request to the Trump administration, the governor cited: costs to local municipalities that significantly exceeded their snow removal budgets; transportation issues such as preemptive road closures including major interstates; record-breaking snowfall in nine counties; and storm conditions that generated significant life-safety issues requiring a variety of critical resource and support needs, such as rescue and evacuation of stranded motorists, wrecker service with recovery staff, generators and transportation of emergency workers.
Robert Fenton, the acting administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in a letter to Wolf that the damage from Stella was "not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the commonwealth and affected local governments."
If approved, federal funding would have been available to local, county and state governments, as well as eligible nonprofits in Bradford, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Northumberland, Pike, Wayne and Montour counties.