Mayor says Haverhill Residents May Have Second Chance for Flood Disaster Relief

At 5 Ford St., Haverhill, from left, Haverhill Wastewater Department’s Paul Jessel, owner Artie Moses, Building Inspector Thomas Bridgewater, Community Development Director Andrew K. Herlihy and Senate President Karen E. Spilka. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill residents turned away for help with flood damage earlier may have another chance thanks to the city’s reallocation of federal American Rescue Plan Act money.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini told city councilors Tuesday about another approach to provide a modicum of financial help to residents impacted by the Aug. 8 deluge. The mayor explained.

“We were hoping that we would get FEMA-MEMA relief. As all of you know, we did not, so we put together a draft plan to provide some relief using ARPA money. Now, there’s millions of dollars in claims and even using ARPA money, we just can’t come anywhere remotely close to satisfying all of the needs.”

Although residents and businesses filed for millions of dollars in damage relief from the federal government, the agencies responsible for awarding such financial relief, the Federal and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agencies reported Haverhill and area communities did not reach the level necessary to qualify for such restitution.

The mayor said the proposed program is particularly geared toward people and businesses who lost appliances, such as furnaces, in the flooding. He said it will provide about $5,000 to each claimant. He also encouraged homeowners to also apply for an Small Business Administration low-interest loan that, despite its name, is available to residential properties..

Council Vice President John A. Michitson asked the mayor if any of this money could be used to help with flooding damage on Burnham Street caused by an earlier water main break. Fiorentini responded, unfortunately no because ARPA money comes with a requirement the funding be used only in areas where the city declared an emergency.

Asked when he anticipated residents could apply for a grant, the mayor said he is working on it.

“We don’t want to make it so long that we delay getting relief to people, but we don’t want to make it so short that people don’t know about it.”

Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan suggested Dec. 15 would be a good date satisfy both concerns.

The mayor added there will be a committee named to decide who would receive the funds. He also took the opportunity to praise Chief of Staff Christine Lindberg, who developed the program.

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