Blake Joins Colleagues to Announce Flood Relief Legislation

Sen Blake speaks at flood relief news conference

HARRISBURG, September 19, 2011 – – State Sen. John P. Blake today joined a bipartisan group of state senators to announce a legislative package aimed at helping Pennsylvania residents recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

“The amount of damage caused and the number of lives affected by this catastrophe is overwhelming,” Blake said. “I knew, and my colleagues knew, that we needed to step up to try to help those families who lost so much in these recent flooding events. This package of bills will supplement the considerable amount of federal aid already making its way to flood victims and make available much-needed state assistance so that families, small businesses and entire communities within federally declared disaster areas can begin to recover.  We are hopeful for swift passage of this bipartisan legislative package.”

In Blake’s 22nd legislative district, the Borough of Duryea was devastated by record flooding surpassing the levels of Hurricane Agnes in 1972. While the river has receded, the cleanup and rebuilding process is only now beginning.  The destruction in Duryea was so extensive that Vice President Joe Biden visited Chittenden Street to tour the damage and speak with residents.

Blake commended Duryea Mayor Keith Moss; the PA National Guard; local Emergency Management personnel; and the hundreds of volunteers who came out to assist their neighbors in need.  He also noted that due to Duryea flooding, the Lower Lackawanna Sanitary Authority, servicing 35,000 residents from six municipalities, was still without full operating power as of this morning and students from Holy Rosary School in Duryea remain at St. Mary’s School in Avoca.

The package of legislation announced at today’s news conference included bills that would:

  • establish a restricted account in the State Treasury to provide additional state grant monies to individuals and families based on income eligibility and damage losses;
  • authorize $250 million for the state share of flood-related highway and bridge rehabilitation projects;
  • allow local taxing bodies to abate real estate taxes for properties substantially affected by the flood;
  • authorize a county-by-county list of highway, bridges, flood control and hazard mitigation projects for state Capital Budget funding; and
  • give the Secretary of Education the authority to waive certain requirements for public and non-public schools substantially damaged by the flood.

Blake was joined at the news conference by Senators John Yudichak (D-Plymouth Township), John Gordner (R- Berwick), Lisa Baker (R-Lehman Township) and Gene Yaw (R-Loyalsock Township).

Blake Announces $900K State Grant for Abington Community Park Project

HARRISBURG, September 14, 2011 – – State Sen. John P. Blake (D- Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced the release of a $900,000 state grant for the Abington Community Park project.

“This state grant will not only allow the Abington Community Park to improve and expand its facilities, but it will also increase visitation, which could positively impact the local economy,” Blake said. “I applaud the hard work of everyone involved that made this much-deserved state grant possible for the South Abington community and the Abington Area Joint Recreation Board.”

Blake said some of the improvements include the rehabilitation of playing fields, developing hiking and biking trails, constructing a boardwalk to provide fishing access to Wilson Lake, enhancing existing walkway systems to accommodate disabled citizens, and improving existing parking and driveway access areas. 

The state grant, initially authorized in 2010 by the Rendell Administration through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), had been under review by the Corbett Administration.   This program requires a dollar-for-dollar match of non-state funding in the amount of the RACP grant award and, as such, the total value of improvements to the park will be at least $1.8 million

The 97.5 acre Abington Community Park is located just west of Clarks Summit Borough in South Abington Township.

Blake Encourages Luzerne Co. Residents to Act Quickly in Applying for Federal Flood Relief

HARRISBURG, September 13, 2011 – – State Sen. John P. Blake today encouraged all Luzerne County residents affected by last week’s flooding to act quickly and apply for federal assistance.

Earlier today, President Barack Obama made an emergency declaration for 19 Pennsylvania counties, including Luzerne County, which were devastated by flooding brought on by Tropical Storm Lee. This declaration allows federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts to flood victims.

“President Obama’s disaster declaration will certainly provide a greater deal of financial assistance for families affected by the flooding as their painful cleanup and recovery process continues,” Blake said. “Families around NEPA saw their homes ruined and their precious and personal valuables destroyed in the flood, it is now more important than ever to band together to help them get back on their feet.”

Lackawanna County was not included in President Obama’s emergency declaration. To substantiate inclusion in such disaster declarations counties must experience a very high threshold of dollar value damages as well as a very large number of homes affected. 

Blake said that this federal assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured or underinsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and businesses.

Residents and businesses in Luzerne County that sustained flood damage may be available for aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  To qualify for aid, victims must first register with FEMA either online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by phone at 1-800-621-3362.

A Disaster Recovery Center will be established at Luzerne County Community College, 1333 S. Prospect Street in Nanticoke beginning tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Blake said that constituents are welcome to contact his district offices with any questions about the declaration or flood assistance.  More information on flood assistance available through the state and federal government is available online at www.senatorblake.com.

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Blake Announces $900K State Grant for Abington Community Park Project

HARRISBURG, September 13, 2011 – – State Sen. John P. Blake (D- Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced the release of a $900,000 state grant for the Abington Community Park project.

“This state grant will not only allow the Abington Community Park to improve and expand its facilities, but it will also increase visitation, which could positively impact the local economy,” Blake said. “I applaud the hard work of everyone involved that made this much-deserved state grant possible for the South Abington community and the Abington Area Joint Recreation Board.”

Blake said some of the improvements include the rehabilitation of playing fields, developing hiking and biking trails, constructing a boardwalk to provide fishing access to Wilson Lake, enhancing existing walkway systems to accommodate disabled citizens, and improving existing parking and driveway access areas.

The state grant, initially authorized in 2010 by the Rendell Administration through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), had been under review by the Corbett Administration. This program requires a dollar-for-dollar match of non-state funding in the amount of the RACP grant award and, as such, the total value of improvements to the park will be at least $1.8 million
The 97.5 acre Abington Community Park is located just west of Clarks Summit Borough in South Abington Township.

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Blake Saddened at News of Marine’s Death

SCRANTON, August 4, 2011 – – Reflecting, with sadness, on the death of Sgt. Patrick Dolphin, state Sen. John P. Blake today offered sincere condolences to the local Marine’s family and friends.

“Staff Sgt. Dolphin is a local hero and I am deeply saddened with this loss. It is when we lose one of our brave men or women in service that we only begin to glimpse the extraordinary sacrifice they and their families make for our country. Louise and I and our entire family will keep our prayers with Sgt. Dolphin’s friends and family at this very difficult time.”

Staff Sgt. Dolphin, a 2000 graduate of North Pocono High School, died earlier this week while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Dolphin, 29, was serving his second tour of duty in Afghanistan after two previous tours in Iraq.

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