Biden authorizes federal disaster assistance for Hurricane Ida damage

Charlie MegginsonGovernment, Headlines

a group of people riding on the back of a boat

Rescue workers in the flooded streets of Wilmington after Ida.

President Joe Biden has issued a Major Disaster Declaration for Delaware authorizing federal assistance in areas affected by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

Gov. John Carney requested the declaration on Sept. 17 citing historic damage in New Castle County and difficulties responding in the wake of the pandemic. 

Biden issued a similar declaration for six counties in southeastern Pennsylvania on Sept. 10 but was slow to respond to Carney’s request.

With the declaration, Delaware will be availed to federal financial resources for both the public and nonprofit organizations to deal with clean-up and recovery, specifically along the banks of the Brandywine River. 

Residential and commercial properties and vehicles in the eastern portion of Wilmington — especially the Riverside community — as well as pockets along the Brandywine Creek from Talleyville through Edgemoor, faced severe flooding and subsequent damage. 

Wilmington’s Combined Sewer Overflow system became compromised resulting in the release of untreated sewage in areas of the Riverside neighborhood.

“It is estimated that the flooding brought on by the remnants of Hurricane Ida affected as many as 275 property owners, both commercial and residential, throughout New Castle County,” Carney wrote in his request to Biden. “While considerable progress has been made to restore full utility service to about half of the affected properties there are still [some] experiencing plumbing as well as electric and gas issues.”

He also highlighted damage to community and cultural infrastructure, including Brandywine Park, Howard High School, Stubbs Elementary and Hagley Museum and Library.

What relief will Delaware receive?

In a Monday press release, Biden said he had approved requests for Public Assistance and assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for New Castle County as well as Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding statewide. Public Assistance provides funding for state, local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations, on a cost-sharing basis, for emergency protective measures and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged as a result of the event.

Federal funding will also be available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

However, Carney was notified Monday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that the state’s request for Individual Assistance, as part of the major disaster declaration request for the State of Delaware, was denied. The determination was made by FEMA that “the impact to individuals and households in New Castle County is not of the severity and magnitude to warrant designation of Individual Assistance.”

The press release noted that additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

What to do if your nonprofit organization suffered property damage:

Small Business Administration low-interest disaster loans are now available to certain Delaware Private Non-Profit (PNP) organizations, businesses, homeowners, and renters in New Castle County affected by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.  Additionally, Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are available to help meet working capital needs, such as ongoing operating expenses, regardless of whether the organization suffered any physical property damage.  Applicants may apply for declaration #17238 online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure website at this link

DEMA will continue to work with federal partners, local government entities, and nonprofits that were affected by the flooding. To submit eligible projects, state and local government agencies and eligible nonprofits should register through the DEMA website at this link or to learn more contact Joshua Kelly at [email protected].

What to do if your small business suffered property damage:

To apply for Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Assistance, businesses, nonprofits, homeowners, and renters should go to this link or contact the SBA Customer Service Center at  1 (800) 659-2955or by emailing [email protected]. Loan applications can also be downloaded from Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.  The filing deadline to submit applications for physical property damage is December 23, 2021. The deadline to submit economic injury applications is July 25, 2022.

Click here to read Gov. Carney’s full letter to President Biden.

Click here to read President Biden’s press release on the Major Disaster Declaration.

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