Last Thursday, May 2, President Donald Trump concurred and declared that the damages resulting from the Feb.13, 14 and 15 storms in California, including Riverside County, to be a major disaster.
The declaration will result in federal monies to state and local governments to help rebuild and restore the public infrastructure damaged from the atmospheric river of rain during that period. Damage from landslides and mudslides also is part of the declaration.
The federal assistance can be used for debris removal, emergency protective measure and permanent restoration of infrastructure. Other eligible categories for assistance include roads and bridges, water control facilities, public buildings, pubic utilities, and parks and recreation areas.
The federal government’s share of the costs will be 75 percent. Riverside County officials will work with State Emergency Services for project cost reimbursement, according to Shane Reichardt, senior public information specialist for the county’s Emergency Management Department.
The county estimated its direct costs from this disaster were about $70 to $75 million.
“[The declaration] also makes the area eligible for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, where entities such as the county can apply for funding for projects that can mitigate the effects of future disasters like heavy rains and wildfire,” wrote Hernan Quintas of Rep. Dr. Raul Ruiz’s staff.
After Gov. Gavin Newsom submitted the state’s request, Ruiz also wrote to Trump. Then on May 2, he announced, “Today the President heeded our call and issued a Major Disaster Declaration for the Valentine’s Day floods that damaged roads and hurt regional business. I’m working with Governor Newsom and FEMA to ensure that our communities receive the funds and resources available for a full recovery. On April 15th, I wrote to the President calling on him to issue this declaration …”
No private assistance was approved for this declaration. Reichardt presumes that the state didn’t qualify with enough individuals. Insurance coverage probably reduces the number of potential individual claims.