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FEMA Relief Denial Hits Close To Home

floodblogThe damages suffered by Santa Cruz County as a result of the heavy storming and flooding this past March have yet to be funded and alleviated. A lack of reserve funds and a whopping $1.5 million in damages for Capitola alone and upwards of $17 million countywide have left our region, and other affected areas in California, seeking federal aid.

However, Gov. Jerry Brown’s request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a major disaster declaration (and the relief funds along with it) was denied on Tuesday, June 21. According to Veronica Verde of FEMA’s external affairs, “The denial was based on the weather reports demonstrating that there were three separate storms in different areas at different times, not continuous or severe enough to necessitate assistance. Also, the situation wasn’t beyond the capacity of the state and local governments.”

The City of Capitola has already spent almost $1 million in flood repairs to public property, exhausted the city’s emergency reserves and has also tapped into their contingency reserve. City officials felt that FEMA assistance was the only option left. Had the request been accepted, the federal government (generally) would have taken on 75 percent of the damages “and in most cases, more than that,” Verde says. That relief would have been distributed to counties based on specific need. A disaster declaration to the federal government must come with at least $44 million in damages. Altogether, the 17 California districts impacted by the storm damage racked up a $44.5 million price tag—just making the cut.

Assemblymember Bill Monning (D-27th District) says he is dissapointed with the denial and intends to work with the governor’s office to push for an appeal of FEMA’s decision. Monning has seen the storm damage first hand and says he is taking it upon himself to work on the people’s behalf.

“See, someone sitting in a desk in Washington D.C. has no idea what’s really going on and it is my job to relay that message to those who don’t understand,” Monning tells GT.

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