The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 13, 2013

Counties to recoup Sandy expenses: Bedford, Somerset to receive FEMA aid

— Bedford and Somerset counties diligently prepared when Hurricane Sandy barreled toward the Northeast in late October.

And, although they suffered only minimal damage, both incurred financial costs.

So, late last week, when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency announced disaster aid will be made available to Pennsylvania, both were among 16 counties on the list of eligible recipients.

“It’s good news to hear,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. “What the decision means, among other things, is that when states prepare for a disaster and they take steps to make sure they’re prepared and fortified for a terribly difficult experience, like a storm like that, that states and communities will be recognized for their efforts.”

Casey and Sen. Pat Toomey requested the funds in a letter sent to President Barack Obama.

“I’m pleased the administration has done the right thing and decided to reimburse Pennsylvania for the costs it incurred during preparations for Sandy,” Casey said.

The federal assistance will be available to municipalities, school districts and some nonprofit organizations that paid for emergency services and/or repairs to damaged facilities. County emergency services will help groups apply for the money. Individuals are not eligible.

“We’ll set up the program for them. ... Everybody will be given a chance,” said Richard Lohr, Somerset County emergency management director.

Funding for Pennsylvania is included in an overall $51 billion Sandy relief bill that is expected to be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives this week.

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