Senator Judy Schwank

ReadingSeptember 28, 2023 — Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) has issued the following statement in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denial of Pennsylvania’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration relating to the storm and flooding on July 9, 2023.

“While we realized this outcome was a possibility, that does not make the news of this decision by FEMA any easier to swallow. 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. In anticipation of this decision, I contacted the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency last week and formally requested that funding allocated to a pilot individual disaster relief program be released in Berks County to affected residents. The clock continues to tick, and people are still without the assistance they need.”

Schwank added the lengthy wait for the federal government to render a decision on the Major Disaster Declaration has been extremely frustrating.

“People want answers, and they want to know what is being done to help them recover from this severe weather event,” Schwank said. “I empathize with those folks. Given the devastation we saw in some areas of Berks County, it’s hard to imagine that we don’t meet the federal threshold for assistance. However, this is the hand we’ve been dealt, and we need to pivot quickly given the circumstances.”

In addition to requesting PEMA release the pilot individual relief program funding, Schwank is calling on federal representatives to search for other funding sources to aid Berks County residents.

“We can’t leave a single stone unturned at any level of government,” Schwank said. “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.”