Snow relief aid tied to January storm finally arrives

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BOSTON – Massachusetts will receive an estimated $120 million in federal disaster relief tied to the pummeling with snow that the state endured last winter, the largest award of public assistance disaster funding in the state’s history.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced the aid at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency bunker in Framingham on Wednesday afternoon. Nearly $60 million will be earmarked for reimbursements to cities and towns to cover the cost of snow removal, flooding and other expenses.

“Working closely with our federal and local partners, I’m proud that Massachusetts is securing this critical budgetary relief as a result of last winter’s damages, especially for our impacted cities and towns,” Baker said in a statement. “The Commonwealth’s largest public assistance disaster in history will ensure resources are available to make important repairs as we focus on our ongoing disaster preparedness and the upcoming winter season.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has already distributed $24 million, including $2.5 million for the city of Boston, in relief funding linked to the late January blizzard that marked the start of a month-long series of snowstorms that crippled parts of the state and public transit systems.

Baker had requested that the federal government treat the successive storms, which gave communities little time to recover in between, as a single disaster event, but FEMA declined. Such a declaration would have led to significantly more money coming back to Massachusetts. Baker estimated total damages of more than $350 million from the winter compared to the $160 million in damage recognized by the feds.

According to the administration, FEMA expects to obligate 90 percent of the federal aid within the next 90 days. Federal money will be provided to 650 public and eligible non-profit organizations to reimburse 75 percent of eligible costs.

Written by Matt Murphy