A couple of snowstorms in February were brutal on the entire state. One snowstorm dumped 25 inches on parts of Carbon and Schuylkill counties.
Hoping to avert potential disaster, local governments dipped into reserves and expended money on clean-up and snow removal. They anticipated qualifying for federal disaster funds.
Last week, the federal Emergency Management Agency released the list of counties qualifying for such emergency funding. Carbon, Schuylkill, Monroe, Lehigh, and Northampton counties were not included.
All the funding went to counties in the southern half of the state.
It doesn't matter that many towns in the local area are small and really couldn't afford the extra financial burden. Officials feel the southern part of the state got hit harder by more storms, so allocated the funding to places like Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh.
Disaster relief aid provides for 75 percent or more of the eligible costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, 75 percent or more of the cost of removing debris from public areas, and up to 75 percent of the costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state and local governments.
The state has provided what it deemed to be relief by releasing Liquid Fuels Taxes early. By using these funds for snow removal, it means that much needed road work such as patching and resurfacing will not get done.
Local municipalities in general did a great job during the crippling snowstorms in February. Many anticipated state assistance that just won't be coming.
Many local highways were closed for hours. Municipalities had difficulties handling the large volume of snow.
It's too bad that the federal Emergency Management Agency didn't extend its funding to include local counties. It would have been great to receive a helping hand in recuping the money that was spent during that difficult period.
Certainly such funding would have been justified.
By Ron Gower