Governor Shapiro Gets Stuff Done: Supporting Pennsylvanians Through Disasters and Protecting Public Health and Safety
December 11, 2023
Harrisburg, PA – Since taking office, Governor Shapiro and the Shapiro Administration have gotten stuff done by mobilizing state, local, and federal resources to respond to disasters, support Pennsylvanians, and protect public safety – from the Norfolk Southern Train Derailment in Ohio to the RM Palmer Factory Explosion in West Reading to supporting Eastern Pennsylvania communities after devastating flooding during the summer.
Read more about the action Governor Shapiro and his Administration have taken to support Pennsylvania communities through disasters:
Norfolk Southern Train Derailment
After the February 3 Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, Governor Shapiro worked diligently to ensure affected residents in Western Pennsylvania had the resources necessary to stay safe by working closely with local and federal partners to monitor air, water, and soil quality. The Governor has also remained focused on holding Norfolk Southern accountable and securing funding from the company to cover the damage their train derailment caused Pennsylvanians.
Actions taken by the Shapiro Administration include:
- From the early hours of the derailment, Governor Shapiro enlisted a whole-of-government response to the crisis – coordinating with multiple agencies to address the emergency and protect Pennsylvania communities.
- In February, the Shapiro Administration – through the Department of Health – established a Health Resource Center in Darlington Township, assisting nearly 600 residents with questions about mental and physical health, soil/air/water sampling, and agriculture impacts.
- Governor Shapiro announced in March the formation of a community-based health resource network to directly connect Pennsylvania residents who have derailment-related health concerns with local providers. That health resource network continues to be available to Pennsylvanians who have derailment-related health concerns.
- At Governor Shapiro’s direction, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Agriculture (PDA) continue to conduct environmental testing in Western Pennsylvania to ensure the health and safety of residents, with results posted publicly on DEP’s website. Pennsylvania agencies have not found any long-term contamination in Western PA related to the derailment in East Palestine.
- The Governor visited East Palestine and Beaver County and sent a letter to Norfolk Southern detailing his concerns with their management of the situation – and made it clear that he would hold them accountable.
- Governor Shapiro met with Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw and secured an initial commitment of $7 million from the company for damages to Pennsylvania and its residents.
- The commitments include: over $1.4 million to reimburse local fire departments in Western Pennsylvania whose equipment and protective gear was contaminated, $1 million for a Community Relief Fund in Darlington Township and Lawrence County, an additional $544,700 reimbursement for Darlington Township from Norfolk Southern Corporation to repair the damaged East Palestine Road, and over $1 million to repay state agencies who responded to the derailment, ensuring Pennsylvania taxpayers aren’t picking up the tab.
RM Palmer Co. Factory Explosion in West Reading
- After the explosion at the RM Palmer Company in West Reading in March, Governor Shapiro and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Padfield visited the site the next day and mobilized the Commonwealth’s resources to support ongoing recovery efforts, including PEMA and the Pennsylvania State Police’s (PSP) coordination of mutual aid resources.
- While there, Governor Shapiro met with West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag and local leaders after deploying PEMA and PSP to support emergency response, search, and rescue efforts.
- In June, Governor Shapiro announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) granted an administrative declaration of a disaster for the businesses impacted by explosion after he wrote a letter to the SBA requesting disaster loan assistance following information provided by PEMA, who worked with Berks County to conduct sample surveys of the affected businesses to determine the economic impact of the disaster.
- In July, Governor Shapiro and Director Padfield returned to West Reading to visit the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans site at the West Reading Volunteer Fire Department. Governor Shapiro and Director Padfield met with local business owners and elected leaders to receive an update on the ongoing recovery efforts.
Flooding in Pennsylvania Communities
The Shapiro Administration proactively worked to support Pennsylvania communities impacted by flooding, worked with local partners and first responders to keep people safe, provided critical resources, and helped communities recover.
- In July, Governor Shapiro and PEMA Director Padfield visited the Lower Alsace Township building in Berks County and met with local Lower Alsace Township leaders and first responders after flash flooding in the area. Governor Shapiro and Director Padfield toured the damage along Antietam Creek and pledged the Shapiro Administration’s full support as the community recovers from the damage.
- Following the visit to Lower Alsace Township, the Shapiro Administration opened a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) to provide individuals, families, and businesses affected by storm damage with in-person access to state and local resources in coordination with the Berks County Department of Emergency Services.
- PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll and Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid Mumin were in regular communication with Berks County local leaders to offer their agencies’ support to the community. PennDOT began working with a contractor to clear debris and reopen the roads around Antietam Creek and rebuild the Carsonia Avenue bridge. Secretary Mumin and his team at the Department of Education worked with the Antietam School District to support students and teachers in returning to school.
- Governor Shapiro secured a small business disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for Berks, Northampton, Bucks, and surrounding counties, opening up access to low-interest loans for Pennsylvanians impacted by flooding.
- In November, Governor Shapiro sent a request to the federal government to declare a major disaster declaration for flooding in Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wyoming counties.
Governor Shapiro will continue working with local, state, and federal partners to ensure Pennsylvania is prepared for any future emergencies and to protect public health and safety.
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