Healey-Driscoll Administration Requests President Biden Issue a Major Disaster Declaration Following Devastating Impacts of September 11-13 Storms

Governor Maura Healey has requested a Major Disaster Declaration from President Biden to support the ongoing recovery of Massachusetts communities impacted by severe weather and flooding in September. If granted, this declaration would secure access to federal assistance programs for Bristol, Hampden, and Worcester counties.

The storm that began on September 11 caused extensive flooding across the state and required evacuations, sheltering, water rescues, and construction of temporary roadways to allow residents and first responders access to homes.

“I saw first-hand the devastating impacts our communities experienced from the September storms. The extraordinarily heavy rainfall flooded thousands of homes and businesses, destroyed infrastructure, and required a significant public safety response,” said Governor Healey. “I’m requesting federal assistance to support our ongoing recovery efforts as communities and residents continue to rebuild.”

“Some cities and towns experienced more than seven inches of rain in a very short time,” said Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll. “A major disaster declaration is critical to helping our communities and residents gain access to federal assistance as they face an extensive recovery.”

Under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, the President can declare a major disaster for any natural event they determine has caused damage that exceeds the combined capabilities of state and local governments to respond. A major disaster declaration provides federal assistance for individuals and public infrastructure through FEMA’s Public Assistance and Individual Assistance programs, as well as hazard mitigation assistance, which provides funding for eligible mitigation measures that reduce disaster losses.

Following a disaster, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) works directly with counterparts at FEMA Region 1 and impacted cities and towns to assess potentially reimbursable damages caused by, and costs related to, the disaster. Once these assessments are complete, FEMA validates whether the state and impacted counties have reached the required federal damage thresholds for a Major Disaster Declaration.

“Beginning on September 11, MEMA staff responded to Attleboro, North Attleboro, Lancaster, Leominster, Princeton, Springfield, and Sterling to support community response and recovery activities. I want to thank all of the state and municipal agencies, volunteers, and non-governmental organizations who worked together to respond to the storm, as well as the Healey-Driscoll Administration for their leadership,” said MEMA Director Dawn Brantley. “FEMA has been an excellent partner through the process of conducting joint preliminary damage assessments, and MEMA recognizes the commitment of the communities that dedicated significant time and attention to this endeavor while also facing the challenges of recovery.”

In response to the severe weather impacts, Governor Healey directed the execution of the State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, activation of the state’s Regional Emergency Operations Centers, and declared a State of Emergency on September 12, 2023. The administration also developed a website to centralize available resources for residents, businesses, and communities, which is continually updated.