Sunday, November 18, 2012

BOSTON HOUSING NEWS: State may not qualify for post-Sandy federal aid

Massachusetts homes and businesses were probably not hit hard enough by Hurricane Sandy to qualify for additional federal disaster aid, a state official said Friday.

Though many Bay State homes sustained damage from falling trees and flooding — and hundreds of thousands temporarily lost power — the uninsured damage total probably fell short of federal requirements for President Obama to sign a “major disaster declaration” for the state. There is no precise damage threshold for states to qualify for such a declaration, but they must paint a picture of extensive damage.

“We literally would have to come up with hundreds of homes that were uninhabitable,” said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

It’s still possible, Judge said, that the state could qualify for federal assistance to repave roads and repair other storm-ravaged government property. State government agencies would need to identify at least $9 million in damage to public infrastructure from the storm.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has received preliminary reports of significant damage on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, but state inspectors are still surveying it.

The federal government has issued “major disaster declarations” for parts of New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

Eqecat, a California firm that creates computer models to calculate the risk from storms, estimated that 84 percent of the $10 billion to $20 billion in insured losses from Sandy occurred
in just three states: New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The company did not break out losses for other states. Analysts say the storm also caused many billions more in uninsured losses.

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