OLYMPIA, Wash. -- State and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations in 11 counties are eligible to apply for federal disaster assistance following a May 17 presidential disaster declaration. The federal declaration opens the door to reimbursement for eligible emergency work and repair or replacement of facilities damaged during the severe storms, flooding and landslides that occurred Jan. 27 through Feb. 4.
"A federal declaration makes it possible for local government entities affected by the early winter storm to be reimbursed for eligible costs of emergency protective measures and repair and restoration of disaster-damaged facilities," said Kurt Hardin, State Coordinating Officer for this event. "We are pleased to receive this much needed assistance with recouping costs to restore public infrastructure on behalf of affected communities."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance program provides grants directly to the state, which reimburse eligible applicants. The first of seven applicant briefings began this week to explain cost eligibility and how financial payments are obligated.
"With the president's declaration, we are now in place and ready to initiate the public assistance program that will meet the needs of affected Washington counties," said Federal Coordinating Officer Lee Champagne. "Our first objective has been to meet with state officials and prospective applicants to explain the infrastructure program process."
Based on the damage assessment conducted by local, state and federal staff, FEMA determined that disaster-related losses for individuals did not reach the criteria established by law for supplemental federal assistance.
"FEMA only steps in when the cost is judged to be too great for local and state resources," said Champagne. "In this case, the damage to public infrastructure met the standards for assistance while the damage to private homes did not."
Washington counties included for assistance are Clallam, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pacific, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Snohomish and Wahkiakum.
A temporary Joint Field Office has been established by FEMA and the Washington Department of Emergency Management to administer and support the public assistance program available to governmental entities.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.