(The Center Square) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied Anne Arundel County’s application for emergency funding, a county official announced.
In a news conference streamed on Twitter, Steuart Pittman, who serves as county executive, said the county and city of Annapolis won’t be receiving FEMA funding to help businesses and residents rebuild following September’s EF-2 tornado that touched down in the city. That decision, Pittman said, could be appealed, and he is in talks with the governor’s office regarding the matter.
Join us live now for updates on Tropical Storm Ida recovery efforts, DPW grant funding awards, and more. https://t.co/j6JFXBnWt7— County Executive Steuart Pittman (@AACoExec) October 12, 2021
“I wrote a letter to Gov. [Larry] Hogan requesting that the state of Maryland declare an emergency based on this incident,” Pittman said. “The reason I did that is we need to be able to activate all of the state resources we can for both businesses and residents who had damage as a result of this tornado.”
Pittman said FEMA denied aid because “they didn’t believe the storm was of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state and effective local governments” to repair the damage left in the tornado's wake.
According to information provided by Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, five structures were destroyed, 29 suffered major damage, 46 suffered minor damage, and 25 buildings were condemned as a result of the tornado.
“We believe that it is essential the state government activate all their capabilities to declare a state of emergency,” Pittman said.
Pittman said by the state declaring an emergency, the VOLT loan program can be converted into a grant program via legislation enacted in 2021 giving the authority for those loans to be used as grants.
“Our Department of Economic Development has been making a case that we need to do that,” Pittman said, “particularly on West Street in Annapolis.”
Pittman pointed to another program through Maryland Housing and Community Development that helps underinsured and uninsured homeowners repair the damage.
“We believe by declaring a state of emergency, the governor can extend those funds as well,” Pittman said.
Buckley said the “quality of life” in Annapolis was “drastically impacted” by the tornado and he was urging the governor to declare the emergency as well.
“We’ve seen a lot of stuff over the last four years,” Buckley said. “We never thought we’d see a tornado touch down in one of the main economic corridors of this city and one of the oldest, proudest neighborhoods.”
Buckley said this city’s “most beloved businesses are on their knees” and “are looking for help.”
“We believe we can get to work once the governor gives us the ability," Buckley said.