Governor Shapiro Visits Lower Alsace Township in Berks County to Pledge Administration’s Support as Flood Recovery Operations Continue

READING, July 10 – Today, Governor Josh Shapiro and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Padfield visited the Lower Alsace Township building in Berks County to meet with local Lower Alsace Township leaders and first responders after Sunday’s flash flooding. Governor Shapiro and Director Padfield received a briefing on the current situation, toured the damage along Antietam Creek, and pledged the Shapiro Administration’s full support as the community recovers from the damage.

“This morning, Director Padfield and I met with local officials in Reading for an update on the response to the flash floods over the weekend – and to show this community that my Administration stands behind them and will offer our full support to help them recover,” said Governor Shapiro. “I’m grateful to the first responders, local law enforcement, members of the Pennsylvania State Police, and members of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard who bravely worked through the storm to keep people safe. The Commonwealth will continue to support the people of Berks County and we will work closely with local officials to provide the support and resources they need.”

“This type of short-duration, high-intensity flooding can have a devastating impact,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “We are working closely with our state and county partners to assess damages and make necessary repairs to get communities back to normal as quickly as possible.”

The Governor was joined by state Sen. Judy Schwank, Rep. Mark Rozzi, and Berks County Commissioners for the briefing and tour of the site around Antietam Creek.

Following the briefing, Governor Shapiro and his Administration pledged to set up a multi-agency state resource center in Berks County for Pennsylvanians impacted by the flooding. Pennsylvanians seeking assistance from state agencies will be able to meet with agency staff in person at the center to get the resources they need.  

While in Berks County, Governor Shapiro and Director Padfield also visited the SBA’s EIDL site at the West Reading Volunteer Fire Department to meet with local business owners and elected leaders, and received an update on recovery efforts following the R.M. Palmer Company factory explosion. In March, Governor Shapiro visited the site hours after the explosion and met with West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag and local leaders after deploying the PEMA and the Pennsylvania State Police to support emergency response, search, and rescue efforts. The Shapiro Administration continues to stand with the community and to provide necessary support.

The Governor was joined by Sen. Judy Schwank and Rep. Johanny Cepeda-Freyitz for the visit to West Reading.

In June, Governor Shapiro announced his Administration secured an SBA disaster declaration for businesses impacted by the factory explosion. Governor Shapiro wrote a letter to the SBA requesting disaster loan assistance following information provided by PEMA, who worked with Berks County to conduct sample surveys of the affected businesses to determine the economic impact of the disaster. The SBA’s EIDL program provides up to $2 million in low-interest loans to help businesses meet financial obligations that could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

SBA staff are available on site at the Fire Department – which is hosting the SBA free of charge – Monday through Saturday from Friday, July 7 to Friday, July 21 to assist eligible businesses with applying for the EIDL. Businesses will be able to apply until March 23, 2024.