Maynard, MA -- Preliminary Disaster Assessment teams with federal and state emergency management agencies are touring six Massachusetts counties hardest hit by a March 23-24 rainstorm looking at flooded homes and businesses, as well as washed out roads that have disrupted normal living.
Staff from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) joined representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the American Red Cross in surveying the damage.
Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci has requested a federal emergency declaration for Middlesex, Essex, Bristol, Norfolk, Suffolk and Worcester counties.
Officials with FEMA will evaluate damage information supplied by the inspection teams before the declaration request is submitted to the President. A presidential declaration would release federal funds for a variety of assistance.
Damage assessment team members spent the week seeing first hand the damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure stemming from the heavy rain during the storm.
Homeowners reported flooded basements, power outages and roads made inaccessible by the high water. Municipal officials cataloged washed out roads, damaged bridges and overwhelmed pumping stations.
Officials and residents in Winchester were keeping a close watch where the integrity of a dam there has raised concerns.
In North Reading some residents were forced to use boats to travel to and from their homes while others were forced from their homes into temporary shelters.
By midweek, the waters of the Concord, Sudbury, Charles and Mystic rivers and numerous smaller tributaries had receded enough for clean up and repair operations to begin.
At the same time, officials and residents were preparing for heavy rains and snow forecast for the weekend and parts of areas already affected by the storms were under a flood watch with rivers expected to crest by the end of the week. The weekend storms failed to materialize.
In a separate action, President George Bush has declared a state of emergency for Massachusetts' communities affected by snowstorms earlier this month.