March 27, 2024

Warren, Lawmakers Urge President Biden and FEMA to Issue a Major Disaster Declaration After Catastrophic Flooding in Massachusetts

Lawmakers’ Letter Supports Governor Healey’s Appeal of FEMA’s Denial After Catastrophic September 2023 Flooding in Bristol, Hampden, and Worcester Counties

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and U.S. Representatives Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), and Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.) sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 1 Regional Administrator Lori Ehrlich, writing in support of Governor Maura Healey’s formal appeal asking  FEMA to reconsider its decision to deny a major disaster declaration and deliver the aid that Massachusetts communities need after suffering catastrophic flooding in September 2023. 

“We write in support of Governor Healey’s formal appeal of Massachusetts’ major disaster declaration request denial, submitted on March 11, 2024 under the provisions of Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. The major disaster declaration request was made in response to the catastrophic flooding in Bristol, Hampden, and Worcester Counties after historic rainfall in September 2023. We urge you to carefully consider the Commonwealth’s formal appeal and help us deliver the aid that our residents desperately need,” wrote the lawmakers. 

The lawmakers expressed appreciation for FEMA’s partnership with lawmakers, first responders, and state and local officials in response to this disaster. 

“Recognizing that the flooding has strained finances, time, and resources for some of our most vulnerable communities in Massachusetts, we echo the Governor’s interest in appealing certain identified costs that FEMA excluded from its initial assessment of Massachusetts’ request,” continued the lawmakers

“As climate change continues to bring unprecedented weather changes, we believe it is imperative that communities see strong partnership among federal, state, and local governments to deliver when residents need it most. Therefore, we strongly support Governor Healey’s formal appeal and respectfully ask you to reconsider FEMA’s decision. On behalf of the communities affected, we thank you for your attention to this matter,” concluded the lawmakers. 

Senator Warren has led fights to ensure FEMA funding and support is equitably distributed and to ensure emergency relief programs meet the needs of Massachusetts communities: 

  • In January 2024, at a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Warren called for the Biden administration to swiftly finalize its data call about the effects of climate change on the insurance market—and to collect all the data necessary to understand our gaps in insurance coverage and the right regulatory response.
  • In October 2023, Senator Warren and Representatives Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.) reintroduced the Federal Emergency Management Advancement of Equity Act to address systemic inequities in the federal government’s response to disasters and how it distributes assistance. The legislation follows a growing body of evidence and reporting that low-income disaster survivors and communities of color are less likely to receive crucial federal emergency assistance compared to higher-income counterparts.
  • In August 2023, following flooding in New England in July 2023, Senators Warren, Markey, Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) sent a letter to President Joe Biden, thanking his administration for its support for New England communities that suffered catastrophic flooding and requesting that President Biden continue to address the ongoing needs of these communities in any upcoming disaster supplemental appropriations request to Congress. 
  • In May 2023, at a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Warren highlighted the need for FEMA to fix inequities and injustices in disaster management programs.