CONCORD, NH – Governor Maggie Hassan announced March 25 that President Obama has granted her request for a major disaster declaration for Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford counties in response to the blizzard and severe winter storm that occurred between January 26 and January 28, 2015, and significantly strained the resources of many communities.
The Preliminary Damage Assessment conducted by FEMA and state and local emergency management officials found that the statewide costs for response efforts for the Blizzard of 2015 exceeded $3,293,000.00, including $1,554,335.40 in Hillsborough County, $1,226,158.15 in Rockingham County, and $512,565.13 in Strafford County.
“The storm-related activities from this severe storm and blizzard required unusually high amounts of materials and labor for snow removal throughout southeastern New Hampshire, and with this major disaster declaration, the state and these communities will now be able to access critical federal dollars to aid in our response efforts,” Governor Hassan said. “I thank President Obama for his quick response to my request for assistance, as well as Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster and Congressman Frank Guinta for their support of this action to provide needed relief to our local communities.”
That means communities in Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford counties are eligible to receive resources through the federal Public Assistance Program, which provides assistance for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.
In addition to the direct reimbursement available to communities in Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford counties, the President’s declaration makes all New Hampshire communities eligible for resources through the federal Hazard Mitigation program, which provides grants to states and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration. The purpose of the program is to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can fund up to 75 percent of the eligible costs of approved projects.
Due to snowfall accumulation that totaled anywhere from two to almost three feet in southern and southeastern parts of the state, and winds that exceeded 50 miles per hour during the storm, storm-related activities consumed unusually high amounts of materials and labor for snow removal. In addition, there were more than 18 roof collapses statewide that required an emergency services response, including eight in Hillsborough County, three in Rockingham County, and three in Strafford County.
In advance of the storm, Hassan declared a State of Emergency on January 26 and closed state government on Tuesday, January 27, for personnel not essential to public safety, public health or the storm response.