Bucks County officials declare disaster emergency after '100-year flood'

Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to tour some of the flood-damaged areas Friday

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Friday, July 16, 2021

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Bucks County Commissioners have approved a Declaration of Disaster Emergency in response to Monday's devastating flood damage.

Officials say the disaster declaration allows the county Emergency Management Agency to "cut through red tape when providing assistance to those impacted by the storms."

At least 100 residents were impacted by the storm that has left many without a place to live.

Christine Buck was one of the many residents who had to be rescued from the Lafayette Gardens condo complex in Bensalem. She was saved from her second-floor unit as the water rose.

"Fire and rescue had to get me out in a dingy. Had to get me out, and a lot of other people because the water came up that fast," Buck said.

She grabbed just a couple of food items from her home on Thursday.

'A bunch of other residents are salvaging what they can from their units; I can't take more than what I can carry," Buck said.

The torrential rain that fell caused what experts say is a '100-year flood,' which means a flood of this intensity has a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year.

Many of the homes are inhabitable right now. It's not clear if or when people will be allowed to return.

Now the question is: will the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) help? There needs to be a "disaster" declared by the state in order for state funds - and eventually federal funds - to flow to these flood victims.

The Bucks County Commissioners are working with state legislators, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and other state and local partners to secure all available, appropriate resources to assist in recovery.

On Friday, Governor Tom Wolf is expected to tour some of the areas damaged by the flood.

SEE ALSO: Will the state help Bucks County residents hit by historic flash flood?

We asked what would classify as an 'Emergency Disaster' and how funds could be distributed.

According to FEMA:

"When evaluating a Governor's request for Individual Assistance, FEMA considers several factors. These factors include (1) the state's fiscal capacity and resource availability, (2) the amount of uninsured home and personal property losses, (3) the demographics of the disaster impacted population, (4) the impact to community infrastructure, (5) the number of people who are missing, injured, or deceased due to the disaster, and (6) the number of disaster survivors who lost work or became unemployed due to the disaster and who do not qualify for standard unemployment insurance.

To learn about how FEMA's disaster assistance process works, you may visit this link: How a Disaster Gets Declared | FEMA.gov

Anyone displaced by the storm and in need of shelter should contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767. (Select option four.)

Residents and business owners are urged to report storm damage to municipal officials using the phone numbers below:

Bensalem Township - 215-633-3741

Bristol Borough - 215-788-3828, ext. 12

Bristol Township - 267-812-2938