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President Obama declares state of emergency from flooding in Pennsylvania

September 09, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in Pennsylvania following a week of torrential rainfall that caused devastating flooding.

The president's emergency declaration ordered federal aid for flood recovery efforts in 42 counties, including Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry, Schuylkill, Snyder and York.

With power outages, road closures and school closings due to flooding conditions in the greater Harrisburg and Hershey area, some questioned why Franklin County, with no flooding reported, was on the list.

Dave Donohue, director of emergency services for Franklin County, said the county was included because it is contiguous with flood-ravaged jurisdictions.

 Since Franklin County is a a neighbor to Adams and Cumberland counties, Donohue said items are being sent to those flood-devastated areas.

 "We sent out 100 cots and about a dozen pumps, and are waiting to send out more stuff," Donohue said. "What happens is an emergency happens, and all the contiguous counties like us start sending stuff. We've kind of held them together, and now we will have less of our stuff going, and more stuff funneling in from other areas of the country to help them out."

 Maj. Duane Harris, commanding officer of the Salvation Army of Chambersburg, Pa., said the organization's canteen is stocked and ready to travel to flood areas.

 "It's stocked and ready to go. It just stays here until we know where it's needed. It's stocked with soup and snacks for about 500 people," Harris said.

 Nick Morici, external affairs officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the worst of the flooding might not be over just yet.

 "Based on the weather reports, the waters are to crest (on Saturday), and then after that, things are going to start to go down. But the streams, rivers and lakes north of here (Harrisburg area) flow down into this area, so that's why it's going to be a bit of a challenge from what we're hearing. We're anticipating more flooding," Morici said.

So far, the residents of the flooded areas have handled themselves well, he said.

 "It takes everyone in a community to respond to a disaster productively and logically, and they have done that. It's a great testament to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The residents here have done everything they should do," he said.

Anything that has been spent on lifesaving measures related to the storm response will be reimbursed up to 75 percent by federal funding, under the  president's emergency declaration, he said.

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