By Jondi Gumz
On April 3, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that a major disaster exists in the State of California and ordered Federal aid to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe winter storms, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides, and mudslides beginning on Feb. 21, 2023, and continuing.
The President’s action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Kern, Mariposa, Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Tulare, and Tuolumne.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Federal funding on a cost-sharing basis is available to eligible state, tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofits in Calaveras, Los Angeles, Monterey and Tulare counties for
emergency work and repair or replacement of damaged facilities.
Lastly, Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
Andrew F. Grant is the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations.
On March 28, Gov. Gavin Newsom requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration with a 100% federal cost share for the first 90 days to bolster the emergency response. His 20-page letter pointed out Monterey County reported agricultural losses exceeding $450 million, and damages in four counties — Calaveras, Los Angeles, Tulare and Monterey exceeded $92 million. Private property damages are expected to top $329 million statewide.
In the affected counties, only about 5% have flood insurance.
FEMA tallied 200 homes in flooded Pajaro with major damage or destroyed and the flooded Pajaro Middle School closed for the rest of the school year, with students moved to another site, Lakeview Middle School.
In Santa Cruz County, seven homes were destroyed and 26 had major damage.
On March 29, U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta joined the full California Congressional delegation in urging President Joe Biden to issue a major disaster declaration for the state of California.
On March 28, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an eviction moratorium to protect flood-impacted residents of Pajaro, effective immediately. The moratorium extends through August. The supervisors also asked financial institutions pause foreclosures against impacted property owners or landlords.
The Los Angeles Times reported that FEMA policy was to provide individual disaster assistance when the affected community has more than 1,600 homes, to which FEMA spokeswoman Tiana Suber said there is no specific number threshold to meet.
“We assess the affected area as a whole and the over-all need to make a determination,” she said via email.
FEMA follows government code on individual assistance, assessing state fiscal capacity and resource availability, uninsured home and personal property Losses, disaster Impacted population profile, impact to community infrastructure, casualties and disaster-related unemployment.