Residents of Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs can now apply for federal funding to repair damage caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which brought historic flooding and several tornadoes to the area earlier this month.
Early estimates indicate that the storm caused $117 million worth of destruction in Pennsylvania, including at least $27 million in Philadelphia.
President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for the city Friday night, along with Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and York counties, freeing up federal money for housing repair grants, low-cost loans and other programs.
“This declaration is a big step toward recovery for those negatively impacted by the effects of Ida, and I appreciate the governor and president’s urgency to bring much needed aid to our communities,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement Monday.
Property owners affected can file an application for financial help at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-463-3362.
In the near future, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in conjunction with local authorities, will be setting up disaster resource centers where residents can go for assistance with the paperwork, officials said.
Outreach teams will also be going to affected neighborhoods with flyers and to talk to people about applying for funding.
Kenney’s administration advised residents to gather documentation such as receipts, insurance denials and photos.
Anyone who submitted information through the city’s online damage assessment tool still has to file a claim with FEMA.
Biden previously issued disaster declarations for counties in New York and New Jersey, including for Gloucester County, where a powerful tornado ripped through homes in Mullica Hill.
Gov. Tom Wolf, in a letter to Biden last week requesting the federal dollars, noted that the rainfall in Montgomery, Chester and Bucks counties equaled 200-year amount, meaning storms with that much precipitation have 0.5% chance of happening every year.
Several waterways, including the Schuylkill River in Norristown, crested at record highs, overflowing into nearby communities.
Five deaths in Pennsylvania have been tied to Ida, and, at one point, more than 110,000 properties were without power, according to Wolf’s letter.
Preliminary reports show that nine homes were destroyed in Philadelphia and 55 sustained major damage; in Montgomery County, Ida wiped out 46 properties and severely damaged 269.
SEPTA, meanwhile, restored full service on its Manayunk-Norristown Line Monday for the first time since the storm hit the region. Trains had been suspended between Spring Mill and Norristown’s Elm Street station.
Ida caused millions of dollars in damage to the line, particularly to railroad crossing signals, the authority said.
As a result, several roads that cross over the tracks are closed and, at other crossings, flaggers will be controlling traffic flow, according to SEPTA.