County Proclaims Local Emergency for Storm Damage
RIVERSIDE – Riverside County proclaimed a local emergency on Tuesday, an initial step to assist local governments seeking recovery funds for damages to public infrastructure caused by the latest storms and flash flooding.
Initial estimates of damage to public infrastructure were not expected to meet the threshold typically required for a federal emergency declaration, which is $7.5 million. However, the damage amount as of Tuesday now stands at more than $6.5 million, according to the Riverside County Fire Department/Office of Emergency Services.
“The storms caused extensive property damage that is nearing the criteria required for a federal disaster declaration,” said Supervisor John J. Benoit. “The threat we face with impending storms that can cause additional damage has warranted this emergency proclamation. Although there is no guarantee that we’ll be approved for recovery funds, we are pursuing every opportunity that might be available to help our local governments.”
Severe storms on Sept. 8 and 9 caused flooding, road closures, swift water rescues, mud and debris flows and property damage in the Coachella Valley and western Riverside County.
Over the past week, the Office of Emergency Services worked with cities, schools, tribes, water districts, county departments and other partner agencies to identify and determine the amount of damage caused by these storms.
Direct impacts to the county include more than $470,000 in damage and clean-up to county roads, and more than $170,000 in damage to Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area. The City of La Quinta reported more than $3 million in damages, and the City of Riverside reported more than $400,000 in damages. Additionally, the Coachella Valley Water District reported more than $2.2 million in damages.
Riverside County is requesting relief for damages to public infrastructure through a state emergency proclamation, presidential disaster declaration, Small Business Administration disaster declaration and California Disaster Assistance Act funds.
Should the state and federal government recognize the emergency and make recovery funds available, the local governments could apply for reimbursement of 75 percent of expenses. Approval of reimbursements would be made on a case-by-case basis.
As of now, the proclamation is not applicable for individual assistance. Private property owners that have damage can report it to the Office of Emergency Services at 951-955-4700, or to their respective city. The extent of damage to homes is still below the threshold typically required for federal emergency declarations.
Tuesday’s emergency proclamation was signed by Jay Orr, county executive officer, when the Board of Supervisors was not in session. The proclamation will be considered by the board for ratification at next week’s meeting.