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Gov. requests federal emergency relief, President approves

Office of Governor Gavin Newsom– Dear Mr. President, Under the provisions of Section 501 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§5121-5207 (the “Stafford Act”), as implemented by 44 C.F.R. §206.35, I request that you issue an Emergency Declaration for the State of California due to the current and ongoing series of atmospheric river systems impacting the State, which are forecast to continue to impact California through at least January 19, 2023.

These atmospheric river systems have pummeled California since December 27, 2022, and have caused twelve fatalities to date. Due to the sustained force and longevity of these atmospheric river systems, there are multiple cumulative and compounding effects that have already strained local, tribal, and State resources. The National Weather Service’s forecast and California’s State Climatologist’s current modeling predicts additional significant, if not historic, flooding impacts in the following counties due to the upcoming storm: Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Ventura. Due to wildfire burn scars, debris flows are highly likely in the following counties: El Dorado, Los Angeles, Mariposa, 2 Monterey, Napa, Placer, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma.

I am specifically requesting approval of emergency protective measures (Category B), limited to Direct Federal Assistance(“DFA”), under the Public Assistance program for the above-listed counties. I am requesting DFA in order to meet critical emergency protection requirements in the form of personnel, mass care support, mass shelter support, mass evacuation support, equipment, and supplies. The Army Corps of Engineers assistance is requested specifically for debris flows from burn scars, levee failures, and damage to roadways. The emergency measures required as a result of the severity and destructiveness of these continuing atmospheric river systems are beyond the capability of the State and affected tribal and/or local governments to perform or to contract for, thus requiring DFA.

Response from Biden

Today, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that an emergency exists in the State of California and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from severe winter storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides beginning on March 9, 2023, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population and of providing appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Amador, Butte, El Dorado, Fresno, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Lake, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Francisco, San Mateo, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne, and Yuba.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide, at its discretion, equipment, and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures (Category B), limited to direct Federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.

Deanne Criswell, Administrator Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Andrew F. Grant as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.