January 20, 2010

TEAM MARYLAND URGES SUPPORT FOR MARYLAND DISASTER DECLARATION FOR SEVERE WINTER SNOWSTORM

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin (both D-Md.) today joined their Team Maryland colleagues Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) and Congressman Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) in urging President Obama to support the disaster declaration made by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a result of the severe December snowstorm which dumped as much as 18 to 20 inches of snow on Maryland between December 18, 2009 and December 20, 2009.
 
The State made extensive efforts to respond to the blizzard-like conditions, deploying unprecedented amounts of public resources to ensure public safety. Governor O'Malley has estimated the total cost to exceed $19 million. An expedited declaration of a disaster is necessary to provide federal assistance to the State for incurred disaster costs. Federal assistance is particularly critical during these difficult economic times when state resources are scarce.
 
"The blizzard of December 2009 required an enormous public effort on the part of our State to maintain public safety," said Senator Cardin.    "I join the Governor and other members of the Delegation in urging the President to grant Maryland's request for a disaster declaration in order to mitigate the severe financial hardship that was imposed on our State in coping with the storm."
 
 "The winter snowstorm that whipped around Maryland this December required fast action and a nimble response by the State of Maryland. State and local officials did their part, acting fast to clear streets and keep people safe during the blizzard-like conditions," Senator Mikulski said. "Our budget is tight, and tightening. I join my colleagues today to urge the federal government to step up and step in with federal assistance to help defray the costs of these emergency measures and the financial hardships imposed by the storm."
 
 "Maryland did a magnificent job and while people in Minnesota or Maine or Montana might not understand, the December 18-20, 2009 storm in Maryland was a 40-year storm that clearly overwhelmed any reasonable expectation of Maryland's capabilities," said Congressman Roscoe Bartlett
 
"My colleagues and I are committed to securing federal funds to help Maryland deal with the aftermath of the blizzard we weathered last month," said Congressman Van Hollen. "With the total cost estimated at over $19 million for the State, I urge the President to expedite the declaration of a disaster and provide this necessary funding as soon as possible."
 
"Repairing the damage caused by the blizzard is not an expense that Maryland can sustain alone," said Congressman Cummings. "The federal government has always assisted states when weather does such massive damage. This is a critical time for the state of Maryland. We must do our jobs and help Marylanders in their time of need."
 
"Keeping citizens safe after a major snow storm is one of the most essential services state and local governments provide. The historic blizzard in December damaged emergency vehicles and drained critical supplies, such as materials to keep our roads from freezing. I strongly support this federal funding to ensure that Maryland has the resources it needs to recover from this storm and prepare for the next one," Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger said.
 
"The State and local governments of Maryland are already hard-pressed to balance their budgets without having to deal with 30 inches of snow with a $19 million price tag. Local officials did their best to clear the roads and sidewalks so that people could safely get where they needed to go; now we are asking the federal government to help defray the costs so that these emergency public safety practices don't force local governments to cut other essential services," said Rep. Frank Kratovil.
 
"I join my Congressional colleagues from the Maryland Delegation in supporting Governor Martin O'Malley's request for federal assistance in the aftermath of the severe blizzard that hit our state," said Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards. "Governor O'Malley, The Maryland Emergency Management Agency, local jurisdictions, road crews, and workers responded to this severe snowstorm swiftly and admirably. This response resulted in an unprecedented use of public resources to ensure public safety, at an estimated cost of $19 million. I urge the federal government to grant Governor O'Malley's request to provide the necessary resources to ensure that the State of Maryland has the ability to protect the public in the event of future emergencies."
 
The text of the letter follows. Or, for a PDF of the letter, go to: http://mikulski.senate.gov/_pdfs/Press/MDDelegationLetterToFEMADecStormRelief.pdf
 
Dear Mr. President:
 
We are writing to express our shared support for the State of Maryland's request for the declaration of a major disaster for the State of Maryland as a result of a severe winter snowstorm which impacted our State December 18, 2009 through December 20, 2009.    Given the massive impact that this storm had on the state's resources, we respectfully request that you approve the provision of supplementary Federal assistance.
 
            Maryland suffered blizzard conditions throughout the storm, overwhelming the State's capabilities to deal with its aftermath. Governor O'Malley took appropriate action under Maryland law, directing the execution of the State CORE Emergency Operations Plan. The Governor further declared that a State of Emergency existed within the entire state from December 19, 2009 until December 21, 2009. On December 21, 2009, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), along with applicable jurisdictions and state agencies began assessing the impact of the storm on our State and found that there was an "unprecedented" use of public resources to ensure the safety of the public, along with damage to emergency vehicles and state buildings, and depletion of road treatment chemicals. With severe winter weather beginning in our state as early as October, the ability of our State to respond with supplies, resources, and staff has been badly hampered.
 
            Maryland has made extensive efforts to respond to this emergency. Governor O'Malley has estimated the total cost to exceed $19 million. An expedited declaration of a disaster is necessary to help provide the resources needed by our State. We appreciate your consideration of Maryland's request.