Bensalem Mayor Reaches Out For Disaster Assistance From Wolf

Bensalem Mayor Joe DiGirolamo (left) and Governor Tom Wolf (facing away) meet with victims at Lafayette Gardens in Bensalem after the 100-year Flood. Photo by Rick Rickman.

After a month which saw a 100-year flood and EF3 tornado, Bensalem Township Mayor Joe DiGirolamo is once again reaching out for disaster help from Governor Tom Wolf.

DiGirolamo updated Bensalem residents in an announcement video Wednesday. He said local officials are still waiting to hear back from the governor on their latest request for an Emergency Disaster Declaration.

“I’ve asked our governor to declare this an emergency area, to actually name it. And we could get money,” said DiGirolamo. “Right now we’re fighting those issues, but we’ll continue to fight for you.”

Lafayette Gardens flood, disaster
Just a sample of the damages at Lafayette Gardens after the July 12 flood. Photo by Rick Rickman.

The mayor recently sent a detailed letter to the governor’s office. He argued the combined impacts of the flood and tornado should warrant a declaration.

“The citizens of Bensalem have just suffered their second natural disaster in the span of a few short weeks,” wrote DiGirolamo. “More property damage has occured. More of our residents have been left homeless or without shelter. Our community needs your help.”

Waters devastated Bristol, Croydon, and Bensalem in the July 12 flood. PEMA’s Preliminary Damage Assessments estimated the storm caused $3.9 million in uninsured losses, according to DiGirolamo.

Then the EF3 tornado with peak winds of 140 mph hit Trevose and Bensalem last week. It caused a building collapse among other damages at the Faulkner dealership, devastated two trailer parks, and surrounding neighborhoods and businesses.

The collapsed building at Faulkner in Trevose. Photo by Rick Rickman.

Specifically, DiGirolamo posits the Pennsylvania Fiscal Code (72. P.S. 1508) enables the governor to “transfer unused funds in the Pennsylvania General Fund to any Commonwealth Agencies” for disaster relief. He states this could open up millions in potential aid without the need to meet PEMA or FEMA thresholds.

Wolf previously denied making a disaster declaration for the flood despite a bipartisan effort from local, state, and federal officials representing Bucks.

In the meantime, first responders and crews continue to work in the wake of the two natural disasters.

“Our public works, our EMS, police, fire, all of our agencies are working tremendously hard to make sure we get the services you deserve,” said DiGirolamo.

Anyone who suffered damages from the storms in July but has not registered them with the township can reach out at 215-633-3719.