State leaders react angrily to aid denial -- Gazette.Net


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U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski says President Barack Obama had promised to cut through the red tape in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and it is time he began doing that for Maryland residents impacted by the storm.

Mikulski and other members of Maryland’s congressional delegation this week criticized the federal decision not to provide Marylanders affected by Sandy with individual disaster aid.

U.S. Rep. Andrew F. Harris (R-Dist. 1) urged Gov. Martin O’Malley to appeal the denial of individual assistance because many in the 1st Congressional District, such as residents of Crisfield, Smith Island, Marion Station and Fairmont, were impacted by the storm.

“As you know, these areas represent some of the poorest communities in our state, with limited access to resources but with the greatest need for assistance,” Harris said in his Dec. 4 letter to O’Malley. “I encourage you to use all resources at your disposal to ensure that the residents of the areas we mutually represent are provided access to any and all recovery resources to which they should be eligible, including appealing the denial of individual assistance benefits.”

At a hearing Wednesday, Mikulski (D) of Baltimore called the denial “a sad day” for the state because the areas hurt the most also are cash poor.

At a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on the response by federal authorities to Hurricane Sandy, the senator urged officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to tour the Maryland shore region and reconsider the denial.

“Maryland woke up in the Lower Shore to this headline: ‘U.S. denies aid to Maryland storm victims,’” Mikulski said.

Mikulski and U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) of Pikesville called on Obama to support a pre-disaster declaration and another for individual assistance to residents of the state. An estimated 300 homes in Maryland were damaged by the storm.

Obama has urged Congress to pass a $50 billion relief package for Hurricane Sandy victims.

“We in Maryland have some of the most prosperous counties in America, but we also have some of the most poor. And that’s who got hit by this storm,” Mikulski said.

FEMA officials said the state has 30 days to appeal the denial of individual assistance.

cford@gazette.net