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Federal disaster relief approved for Mass. communities hit by blizzard in January that dumped two feet of snow

People walked on Atlantic Avenue during the snowstorm in downtown Boston in January.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

The Biden administration has approved federal disaster relief aid to Massachusetts communities affected by the punishing January storm that dumped some two feet of snow on the Boston area, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said this week.

In a statement this week, MEMA said President Biden at the request of Governor Charlie Baker issued a Major Disaster Declaration for the storm that walloped much of Eastern Massachusetts from Jan. 28 to 29.

The statement said the declaration makes federal disaster aid available to cities and towns, state agencies, and certain nonprofits to help cover storm-related response and repair costs. Reimbursable costs for the storm, MEMA said, are expected to top $13 million.

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“From the first indications of any dynamic weather system, the Baker-Polito Administration remains in close contact with local, state, and federal officials to prepare for and mitigate impact,” said state Secretary of Public Safety and Security Terrence Reidy in the statement. “I thank Acting Director Brantley and her team for their advocacy. Securing these federal funds sustains the ongoing recovery efforts and creates new opportunities for our municipal, state, and non-profit partners.”

Reidy’s words were echoed by MEMA Acting Director Dawn Brantley.

“The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and FEMA worked closely with impacted cities and towns, and with state agencies and non-profits to document and assess storm costs and pursue this federal disaster declaration,” Brantley said. “Now that this Major Disaster Declaration has been issued, we will work diligently to ensure these federal resources are delivered as quickly as possible.”

The January storm cut power to hundreds of thousands of people, disrupted travel, and left officials scrambling to assess the damage. With its blinding snow and punishing winds, the nor’easter drew comparisons to the devastating Blizzard of ‘78. The National Weather Service said the January storm was a bomb cyclone, essentially a winter hurricane, as a result of the rapid drop in air pressure and strengthening of the storm.

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Snowfall totals ranged from 12 to 24 inches in some spots, with up to 30 inches reported in areas south of Boston, the National Weather Service said at the time.

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.