As Pennsylvania experiences more localized short-duration high-intensity rainstorms that cause devastating flash flooding, Gov. Tom Wolf sent a letter urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to lower the federal damage assessment thresholds required for these events to qualify for federal aid. This would allow the state to escape from any financial responsibility in smaller scale events.
Flooding is becoming more common due to the increased frequency of short-duration high-intensity rainstorms. In 2019 alone, more than 5,200 Pennsylvania homes were damaged from flooding events; however, not one incident met the federal thresholds required for individual assistance.
Recent flooding events in Bucks, Philadelphia, and Tioga Counties caused significant flood damage, but while loans were obtained through the U.S. Small Business Administration, the federal criteria for Individual Assistance grants was not met, which meant that devastated homeowners and renters did not receive assistance.
“Evaluating impacts solely on a micro level at the municipal or county level alone, rather than toward a whole state assessment, would provide a more realistic assessment of the impacts to that community,” Gov. Wolf said. “Doing so will provide much needed direct assistance to the most vulnerable who most often are ineligible for other federal disaster assistance.”