Local lawmakers and the Bucks Redevelopment Authority have secured a $1.75 million grant for victims of July’s 100 Year Flood in Lower Bucks.
The money is specifically available for Bucks County homeowners or tenants whose homes suffered damage in the July 12 storm. Through the Neighborhood Flood Assistance Program, each eligible residence can get up to $5,000.
State Rep. Tina Davis (D-Bristol) revealed she was one of the many victims from the 100 Year Flood. She arrived at her home in Croydon the night of the storm to find her roof had caved in.
“It doesn’t seem like a lot of money because we had about 1,100 people in Bristol Township, Bristol Borough, and Bensalem. That’s why there’s only a certain amount of money for everybody,” said Davis. “But we felt that if we could hit more people, at least they would know we were all fighting for them.”
Applicants must submit their forms online using the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority website at bcrda.com. The BCRDA will review the applications and give priority to people whose homes were deemed “uninhabitable.”
“We’ve really worked hard to create a streamlined application process because we know the residents are dealing with a lot of difficult circumstances right now,” saidBCRDA Executive Director Jeff Darwak.
Residents of Bensalem Township, Bristol Township, and Bristol Borough will also get higher consideration. The storm brought up to 10 inches of rain to these municipalities, causing severe flooding.
State Senator Tommy Tomlinson (R-6) said he had never seen anything in Bensalem like July 12th’s flooding.
“You’d walk into someone’s house and the basement or the lower floor would be flooded and the living room would have four or five feet of water in it,” said Tomlinson. “These homes were devastated.”
Bensalem Mayor Joe DiGirolamo reiterated Tomlinson’s sentiment. He added they had tried freeing up COVID-19 relief funds for flood victims, but legally could not.
“We have people that lost their homes, we have people still trying to get into a home. This is going to go a long way,” said DiGirolamo.
The grant program comes two months after the 100 Year Flood. It’s the local solution after higher authorities never approved a statewide or federal Emergency Disaster Declaration to open up funding for flood victims.
Lawmakers tried appealing to the state government and White House to make an official major disaster declaration. DiGirolamo had even tried tying the flood and July’s EF3 tornado together in his appeal to Governor Tom Wolf.
“We all were frustrated that we weren’t getting anywhere with the declaration of a disaster,” said Senator Tomlinson. “We found some other avenues to get money through DCED, through our appropriations process, and got money as Democrats and Republicans both.”
State Rep. K.C. Tomlinson (R-Bensalem) also said the local effort was bipartisan.
“The federal government told us ‘Sorry, but your problem isn’t big enough,'” said Rep. Tomlinson. “My colleagues and I agreed that was not acceptable. Just an ‘I’m sorry’ wasn’t good enough for us and certainly wasn’t good enough for the families we represent.”
“We’re really looking forward to getting out there to help everybody,” said Sean Schafer, Chairman of the BCRDA.