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Governor appeals denial of federal disaster declaration

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THROOP, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – It has now been more than two and a-half months since the Blizzard of 2017 but Governor Tom Wolf isn’t giving up the fight to help communities pay for the clean-up.

In May, the federal government said it would not help with the multi-million dollar cost to help cities and boroughs.

Governor Tom Wolf announced Friday afternoon that he is appealing that denial.

Governor Wolf talked with Eyewitness News immediately after touring the Gertrude Hawk manufacturing facility in Lackawanna County.

He reflected on the Trump administration’s decision not to provide money to northeastern Pennsylvania to help clean-up from the blizzard in March.

While the governor says he understands monetary threshold levels weren’t met, he says the blizzard only crippled a corner of Pennsylvania and not the entire commonwealth.

“The first part I understand that it didn’t rise up to the level of dollars that’s in the formula at the federal level but again what I’m arguing is that look beyond that in this case because where it hit it hit hard,” Governor Wolf said.

The blizzard of 2017 dumped between two and three feet of snow in many places.

“We absolutely need this funding for these municipalities. Their budgets relied on it,” Lackawanna County commissioner Patrick O’Malley said.

O’Malley has been fighting for federal reimbursement too.

He says some communities may not have enough money for summer paving projects because they still have to pay summer clean-up bills.

“I’m just hoping that the appeal may work,” O’Malley said.

Governor Wolf says he hopes common sense prevails.

“If we don’t work together through our democratically-elected government to help each other when we’re in need, I don’t know why we have government!” Governor Wolf said.

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