WASHINGTON – Gov. Robert Ehrlich has requested federal aid for the $55 million that state and county governments spent on the Presidents Day weekend snowstorm, one of the worst storms in state history.
In a letter sent Wednesday to President Bush and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Ehrlich asked for assistance for Baltimore City and all but six Maryland counties.
The letter requested reimbursement for snow removal and for measures taken to protect public safety, including hauling snow to other locations, clearing storm drains to prevent flooding and overtime work by state police and other state agencies.
The state’s congressional delegation also wrote to the president this week, urging “swift approval” of the aid request.
“We have heard from eight of the 10 members (in the delegation), and expect all to sign it,” said Jesse Jacobs, spokesman for Sen. Paul A. Sarbanes, D-Md.
The Maryland Emergency Management Agency compiled the request, based on cost reports from jurisdictions around the state, and sent it to the governor early this week, said MEMA spokesman Quentin Banks.
“Ultimately the total the state of Maryland will get depends upon the claims filed by the local jurisdictions,” Banks said.
FEMA will decide how much aid, if any, the state will get after reviewing the request.
Ehrlich’s letter said previous snowstorms this winter had caused several jurisdictions to go over their snow budgets by the time of the Presidents Day storm. It ultimately covered parts of Western Maryland with more than 4 feet of snow and left more than 2 feet on the ground at Baltimore/Washington International Airport, closing it for days.
Ehrlich declared a state of emergency on Feb. 16 and left it in place for a week because of concerns about possible flooding from heavy rains.
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski had sent letters to both the governor and the president on Feb. 19 requesting swift action on aid. But MEMA was not able to deliver its recommendation to Ehrlich until early this week, as it waited for local and state agencies to report.
Ehrlich’s letter Wednesday came two weeks after the end of the storm and 10 days after he had lifted the state of emergency.
“I’m assuming it went onto the fast track after the state of emergency was called off” on Feb. 23, said Ehrlich spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver.