Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
The Pennsylvania National Guard’s work in two storm-ravaged states is coming to an end, though the larger question facing the state is whether it’s on the hook for its own in-state storm recovery expenses.
At the height of its response to super storm Sandy, the Guard activated 1,600 of its troops and sent them to eastern Pennsylvania. Soldiers delivered food, water, and other supplies, and provided security in some areas.
The storm recovery missions in the commonwealth have ended, tallying up a total bill of more than $1 million dollars the state still isn’t sure it’ll have to pay.
Adjutant Gen. Wesley Craig said Monday he and the governor are still waiting on word from the federal government. If the president issues a disaster declaration for Pennsylvania, the commonwealth could be reimbursed for 75 percent of the costs of storm response and recovery costs.
The issue of Guard soldiers sent to New York and New Jersey is already settled – those states will pick up the tab.
“When we sign these emergency management compacts, the governor of New York has to say, ‘Yes, I’m going to take these Pennsylvania troops, and I’m going to reimburse you, Pennsylvania, for their cost,’” said Craig.
And the costs are steep: about $2 million for deploying more than 400 troops to New York, and about $800,000 for roughly 50 troops sent to New Jersey, said Craig.
“The guys in New York are doing security work. I got a military police company there and a forward support company – they’re delivering supplies and delivering fuel all throughout New York City,” said Craig. “The troops in New Jersey are primarily re-fuelers and they’re working, supporting the New Jersey Guard, because they have so many of their troops on active duty, they need additional help refueling their own assets.” Craig expects the roughly 450 Guard men and women will be back in Pennsylvania this week.
“We think they’re coming back Wednesday or Thursday, at this point, so they’ll have been there almost two weeks by the time they come back,” he said.
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