Cal EMA Puts Pressure on FEMA

capitolafloodFRESH DIRT > New video highlights spring storm damage

The devastating storms that caused flooding, mudslides and took out roads throughout California this past March are still having an effect on the state and Santa Cruz County. The county, which was affected the most by the three-week storm, as one National Weather official explained it, continues to suffer four months later.

The storm caused major flooding and mudslides in Capitola and Santa Cruz. On March 22, Gov. Jerry Brown sent a letter to President Barack Obama, asking for emergency funds to help with the disaster. Last month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied the governor’s request. On July 14, he appealed the ruling stating that the effects and costs of the disaster continue to grow as they are still being assessed.

FEMA’s denial for emergency funds has prompted the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) to produce a video that highlights the devastation caused to Santa Cruz County, the worst affected out of 17 counties throughout the state. Total damage to the state is estimated at more than $50 million. Countywide, estimated reconstruction costs are up to $17 million, but that number is expected to grow as the damage is still being assessed.

The video, which features footage taken by Bay Area news stations and interviews with city, county and National Weather Service (NWS) officials, is set to be released to the public next week in an effort by Cal EMA to put more political pressure on FEMA. “We need help fast… this poor little county cannot accommodate this type of damage and carry on,” said John Presleigh, Public Works Director of Santa Cruz County.

The City of Capitola has spent 12 to 16 percent of its annual budget in response to the two-day flooding that occurred in the city. Jamie Goldstein, city manager of Capitola, is seeking financial reimbursement from FEMA for damage and repairs. He warns that job layoffs and other cuts will have to be made if the city cannot acquire the federal emergency funding. Goldstein explains the March storms as “the most significant actual disaster… since its incorporation in the 1950s.”

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