Feds reject disaster aid relief for Bristol County

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North Attleborough Town Hall
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A request for disaster aid for damage from last September’s devastating floods in Bristol County was rejected by the federal government, according to Town Manager Michael Borg.

During a Town Council meeting on Feb. 12, Borg announced he received a letter from Gov. Maura Healey notifying him that the request sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last December was denied. 

The request asked FEMA for a major disaster declaration in Bristol County, which North Attleborough is part of. Approximately 200 homes in the town were flooded during the Sept. 11 storm, leaving some homeless for months.  Additionally, Healey asked for a major disaster declaration for Worcester and Hampden counties, where a foot of rain caused severe flooding in the town of Leominster. 

In the aftermath of the storms, Healey directed her administration to distribute $5 million in flood relief funding that was set aside for affected communities during disasters. 

Karrissa Hand, a spokesperson for Healey, confirmed that the request was rejected and said the administration would quickly appeal the decision. 

“Our administration is deeply disappointed that FEMA denied our request for a major disaster declaration for damage caused by extreme weather in September,” Hand said. “We submitted a strong request based on the severe local impacts this storm had on our communities. We plan to appeal this decision and will do everything we can to continue our advocacy with our federal partners and support our communities.”

In a letter sent to the Healey Administration by FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, the agency wrote that the damage in North Attleborough and Leominster was “not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of state, affected local governments and voluntary agencies.” 

While the initial request was denied, Criswell informed Healey that FEMA’s Regional I Administrator will communicate if there are any additional resources for relief available through other agencies, and FEMA would help the state identify additional damages during the appeals process.

Borg, who supports Healey’s decision to appeal the rejection, said he is disappointed with FEMA’s assessment that the damage was not severe enough to warrant federal relief.

“We believe that FEMA must amend its decision in support of our residents who were impacted by September’s flood,” Borg said. “In the meantime, we will continue to work diligently with our local and state partners to assist with flood relief where we can.”