State and local leaders are praising the Biden administration's announcement that residents and businesses in Leominster will receive federal disaster assistance related to the storm that battered the city last September, flooding homes and causing roads to collapse.

The federal assistance was authorized by President Biden under a “Major Disaster Declaration” that covers Bristol and Worcester counties. The announcement reverses an earlier decision by FEMA to deny federal assistance for Leominster. In March, Governor Maura Healey's office appealed that rejection.

“Our communities have been through so much and continue to experience the impacts of these storms,” Healey said Thursday in a written statement. “I thank President Biden and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for recognizing the scope of the impacts this extreme weather event had on many of our cities and towns in Massachusetts.” 

The storm dumped nearly a foot of rain on Leominster on the night of Sept. 11, topping a dam and causing roads to collapse into sinkholes in some places.

“Anyone that's been here to see it firsthand was just shocked” by FEMA's initial decision not to provide assistance, said Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella. “And I think once they drilled down further to really take a microscopic look at this, it became a no-brainer.”

1,400 Leominster homeowners and businesses had made submissions to FEMA asking for help.

“I see firsthand on a daily basis residents and businesses who didn't have the cash on hand to to restore what was fine the night before [the storm],” Mazzarella said.

Lobbying from members of the state's congressional delegation also played a role in the reversal, Mazzarella said.

The federal announcement allows residents and businesses to apply for grants for temporary housing and home repairs, as well as low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses. Applications for assistance can be made at, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362), or by using the FEMA App.

“We're hoping to get somebody to come out and... have a meeting at town hall to sort of explain the process,” Mazzarella said. “And we will certainly have staff available in the event that someone needs assistance with filling out the application and getting through the process.”

The storm also caused about $35 million in damage to the city's infrastructure, Mazzarella said, which was not included in the new federal funding announcement. Mazzarella described a federal decision on that assistance as “pending.”

Massachusetts congressman Jim McGovern's district covers Leominster. In a statement released Thursday, he urged the Biden administration to approve that infrastructure aid.

“While I’m grateful that individual assistance from FEMA is on the way, I continue to call on President Biden and the White House to approve our entire appeal,” said McGovern, “including public assistance, so that local governments are made whole again after the catastrophic damage they incurred last year,”