BOSTON, Mass. /Massachusetts Newswire/ — Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray today announced that federal disaster aid will be available to Massachusetts communities hardest hit by the January 12, 2011 Nor’easter. The assistance was authorized under an emergency declaration issued by President Barack Obama after review of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) analysis of the Administration’s request for federal assistance. The declaration covers the 6 counties that received record or near record snowfall from that storm.

The counties that are eligible for federal disaster funding include Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Hampshire and Berkshire Counties.

“The January storm produced historic levels of snowfall across much of Massachusetts, overwhelming local communities and depleting snow and ice removal budgets,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. “Our Administration would like to thank President Obama for providing this federal assistance, which will greatly relieve some of the financial burden the storm placed on the state and our cities and towns.”

“While most of the ice and snow have finally melted away, tons of people are still hurting from the damage left behind,” said Senator John Kerry. “People missed work, homes lost power, and businesses had to close their doors. We’re grateful to President Obama for making this declaration and giving us the financial assistance that comes with it.”

“Our state has endured a brutal winter even by Massachusetts standards, and I am pleased our cities and towns are receiving these resources to help them repair and rebuild,” said Senator Scott Brown.

“The snow may be melting but we cannot fail to help any of our residents and businesses struggling after this winter’s harsh weather,” said Congressman Edward J. Markey. “With this declaration, we can begin getting help to those who need it most. This critical funding will go a long way toward rebuilding our homes and businesses and respond to a winter season few of us will forget. I am grateful to President Obama for acting to send help to those affected by this disaster.”

“Massachusetts residents have endured unrelenting snowstorms this winter. This severe weather has put enormous strain on municipal budgets, school systems, transportation services, public safety operations, and small businesses. In response to the mid-January storm, I joined with my Massachusetts colleagues in calling on President Obama to issue a disaster declaration. I am pleased that he heard our call and issued this declaration, which will enable the Commonwealth to apply for federal funds to ease the financial burden associated with this winter storm,” said Congressman John F. Tierney.

Under the disaster declaration, FEMA will provide reimbursement to local government, state agencies and various non-profit organizations for 75 percent of the total eligible costs of snow and ice removal, equipment, contracts and personnel overtime related to emergency protective measures dealing with the snow for a continuous 48-hour period (72-hour period for Berkshire County due to excessive snowfall) designated by each applicant. These are the crucial hours when work crews clear snow emergency routes and roads to critical facilities to permit passage of emergency vehicles. Related emergency protective measures such as treating roads, search and rescue and shelter operations are also eligible for reimbursement.

“The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency will continue to work with cities and towns to help them recoup all eligible expenditures attributed to this storm,” said MEMA Acting Director Kurt Schwartz. “Shortly, we will be announcing the locations of regional workshops for local officials and eligible applicants throughout the Commonwealth, to assist them through this process.”

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MEMA provides leadership to: develop plans for effective response to all hazards, disasters or threats; train emergency personnel to protect the public; provide information to the citizenry; and assist individuals, families, businesses and communities to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to and recover from emergencies, both natural and man-made. For additional information about MEMA and Winter Preparedness, go to