FEMA Denies Major Disaster Declaration, Schwank Responds

Sen. Judy SchwankImage via Pennsylvania Senate Democrats

READING, PA — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has denied Pennsylvania’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration relating to the storm and flooding that occurred on July 9, 2023. The decision was met with frustration and disappointment by state officials, particularly Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks).

“Despite this setback, I will continue searching for government assistance for the Antietam School District and the many Berks County residents hit hard by flooding in July,” said Schwank. The senator had previously contacted the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) to formally request that funding allocated to a pilot individual disaster relief program be released in Berks County.

Schwank voiced her concern at the delay in receiving a decision from the federal government on the Major Disaster Declaration. “People want answers, and they want to know what is being done to help them recover from this severe weather event,” she said. She empathized with the affected residents, expressing perplexity that the level of devastation in Berks County did not meet the federal threshold for assistance.

In response to the denial of the Major Disaster Declaration, Schwank is urging federal representatives to explore other potential funding sources to aid the residents of Berks County. “We can’t leave a single stone unturned at any level of government. The problems we are facing don’t disappear just because we got some bad news. We need to continue work to provide people with the relief they need,” Schwank asserted.

The denial of the Major Disaster Declaration means that federal assistance, which could have provided significant aid in the recovery efforts following the July storm, will not be forthcoming. However, state officials like Sen. Schwank are determined to find alternative solutions to support the affected communities.

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