Local emergency assistance could come following Gov. Inslee request

Gov. Jay Inslee requested assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help local and state response and recovery efforts related to the December winter storm at counties across Western Washington, including Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties.

In a letter to the President, the governor asked for a Major Disaster Declaration and federal help for impacted local jurisdictions, state agencies and tribes.

According to the Washington Emergency Management Division, the severe storm system impacted counties for more than a two-week period, causing “significant and damaging impacts” to local infrastructure, homes, and businesses.

“Many counties are still recovering from the wind storm that caused massive damage over the holidays,” Inslee said. “Federal assistance will help enormously in getting our friends, neighbors and communities on the road to recovery.”

In a release, Emergency Management states that the storm between Dec. 10 and Dec. 25, 2018 resulted in nearly $18 million in damage caused by major flooding, landslides, mudslides, widespread service area-wide power outages to more than 300,000 customers, home and business evacuations, and extensive damage to homes, businesses, electrical systems and infrastructure.

“There was sustained wind speeds of 30-40 mph with gusts up to 100 mph in locations. The cumulative impacts of this storm system had a profound impact on the state’s public utilities, roads, parks, and other critical infrastructure. The American Red Cross set up and staffed multiple shelters across the state throughout the incident period.”

The letter asks for the Public Assistance Program to be implemented in Grays Harbor, Pacific, Clallam, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom counties.

Public Assistance would defray 75 percent of the eligible costs of the emergency response, debris removal and permanent repairs to fix roads, bridges, public utilities and other public infrastructure.

In addition, the letter requests local governments statewide impacted by the disaster qualify for funding under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. This FEMA grant program provides up to 75 percent federal funding for community planning and projects designed to limit or prevent future disaster damage.  

Download the full letter and accompanying materials here.

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