Biden reverses FEMA denial of Massachusetts disaster declaration


Portions of central Massachusetts experienced catastrophic flooding last September.

Vehicles make their way through a flooded Lancaster Street during heavy rain in Leominster, Mass., Sept. 11, 2023. Rick Cinclair/Worcester Telegram & Gazette via AP, File

  • State of emergency declared in Leominster due to ‘life-threatening’ flooding, schools closed Tuesday

  • Healey appeals after FEMA denies request for disaster relief for September flooding

President Joe Biden on Wednesday approved a disaster declaration for areas of Massachusetts hit hard by flash floods last September.

The decision, announced by the White House, reverses the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s initial denial in February.

Portions of central Massachusetts, including the cities of Leominster, Fitchburg, and Lunenburg, experienced catastrophic flooding from Sept. 11 to 13, washing out roads and leaving parts of towns underwater.

Gov. Maura Healey first requested a Major Disaster Declaration in December for Bristol, Hampden, and Worcester counties. But FEMA turned down the application, saying the severity and magnitude of the damage were not beyond the state’s capabilities to handle.

The president’s action makes federal funding available to those affected in the counties of Bristol and Worcester.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help people and business owners recover from flooding, the statement said.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in Bristol and Worcester counties can apply for assistance at, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362), or by using the FEMA App.

— Beth Treffeisen

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