SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday sent a letter to President Obama through FEMA Region IX Regional Administrator Nancy Ward requesting a disaster declaration for the state of California as a result of a series of winter storms that have brought high winds, copious amounts of precipitation statewide, and have caused the loss of human lives, injuries, flooding, severe mud and debris flows, and record breaking snow in the Big Bear Lake area of San Bernardino County. These events have destroyed and damaged public facilities and private property throughout the state, and continue to threaten the lives and safety of many Californians.
The full text of the letter is below:
February 11, 2010
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Through: Ms. Nancy Ward
Regional Administrator, Region IX
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Oakland, California 94607-4052
Dear Mr. President,
Under the provisions of Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 United States Code Sections (U.S.C.) 5121-5207 (Stafford Act), and implemented by Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations (44 CFR)
Section 206.36, I request that you declare a major disaster for the State of California as a result of severe winter storms, record-breaking snow, flooding and debris and mud flows. The storms, beginning January 17, 2010, and continuing, have brought high winds and copious amounts of precipitation statewide and have caused deaths, injuries, flooding, severe mud and debris flows and record-breaking snow in the Big Bear Lake area of San Bernardino County. These events have destroyed and damaged public facilities and private property throughout the state and continue to threaten the lives and safety of many Californians. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), California is experiencing an El Niño oscillation that will move from the north to the south of the state and bring heavier rains to the valley and Southern California this season. Based on these circumstances, the closure of the incident period should be determined jointly by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) in consultation with the NWS. The impacted counties are Calaveras, Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Francisco and Siskiyou.
In response to the situation, I have taken appropriate action under state law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan on January 14, 2010. On January 21, 2010, in accordance with Section 401 of the Stafford Act, a State of Emergency was proclaimed in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Francisco, and Siskiyou. I subsequently proclaimed San Bernardino, Calaveras and Imperial counties on January 22 and 27, 2010.
On January 29, 2010, I requested a joint federal, state and local survey of the damaged areas. The Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) began February 3, 2010, and was completed on February 8, 2010. The PDA indicates the majority of the costs are associated with debris removal, emergency protective measures and repair and restoration costs for roads and bridges. In addition, a number of flood, debris and water conservation reservoirs in Southern California accumulated sediment and organic materials, which has significantly decreased their capacities and integrity. Furthermore, many debris basins are at maximum capacity, causing an additional threat to life and property.
In 2009, the state endured 13 disasters. As a result, California’s General Fund in 2009 reimbursed local agency response and recovery costs in excess of $13.2 million. These events occurred after I proclaimed an economic emergency in February 2009. California is in an economic crisis with a state deficit estimated at $19.9 billion. California also suffered an earthquake in Janaury 2010 in Humboldt County with damages estimated at $18 million. I have determined that these events coupled with this incident create an event with such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected local governments and that supplementary federal assistance is necessary. I am specifically requesting Public Assistance (Categories A-G) for damage caused by severe winter storms, high winds, record-breaking snow, flooding and debris and mud flows. For example, from January 20-22, the City of Big Bear reported 48 inches of snow. Per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the previous two- and three-day record for this area is 28 inches. I am also requesting statewide Hazard Mitigation and any other Stafford Act disaster assistance programs that may be appropriate for the counties of Calaveras, Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Francisco and Siskiyou.
Preliminary estimates of the types and amount of assistance needed under the
Stafford Act are tabulated in Enclosures A and B. Estimated requirements for assistance from certain federal agencies under other statutory authorities are tabulated in
Cal EMA is continuing to work with local government agencies, FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration to document all damage associated with this event in order to explore all appropriate federal disaster assistance programs that may include the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Federal Highways Administration (FHWA), etc. To date, damages potentially eligible under the FHWA Emergency Relief Program total $20,438,500 (Enclosure C).
California has a FEMA-approved enhanced state hazard mitigation plan. The 2007 State of California Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan (SHMP) was approved on October 12, 2007.
The following information addresses the nature and amount of state and local resources that have been or will be used to alleviate the conditions of this emergency. On January 14, 2010, Cal EMA, in accordance with the State Emergency Plan, began preparedness activities based on precipitation forecasts from the NWS. Cal EMA coordinated conference calls with the NWS, key state agencies and local emergency managers throughout the state. Response supplies and equipment were prepositioned throughout the state in anticipation of the severity of the forecasted storms.
The first wave of this event brought the following precipitation totals:
* Sunday, January 17, through 6 p.m. Friday, January 22:
Oxnard, NWS Forecast Area (Los Angeles area):
* Coasts/Valleys: 5 to 8 inches
* Mountains: 7.5 to 12+ inches
* Desert: 3.5 to 4.5 inches
* 2500 to 4000 feet: 3 to 6 inches
* 4000 to 7000 feet: 30 to 48 inches or more
* Above 7000 feet: 5 to 8 feet or more
San Diego, NWS Forecast Area (Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties):
* Coastal locations: 5 to 8 inches
* Valley locations: 6 to 9 inches
* Coastal mountain slopes: 5 to 9 inches
* Wrightwood: 38 inches
* Big Bear Lake: 48 inches
* Forest Falls: 36 inches
* Running Springs: 32+ inches
* Idyllwild: 9 inches
* Mount Laguna: 3 to 6 inches
Hanford, NWS Forecast Area (Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced and Tulare counties and Yosemite National Park):
* 2 to 3.5 inches on the San Joaquin Valley Floor
* 3 to 7 inches in the Southern Sierra Nevada Foothills.
February 11, 2010
* Snowfall totals for the Southern Sierra Nevada: 1.5-3 feet between 4000 to 6000 ft (including Yosemite Valley), 6 to 12 feet above the 6000 foot level.
* Total snowfall of 1 to 3 feet in the Tehachapi Mountains above 4000 feet (mountains north of LA County including the Grapevine).
* A few inches of snow have fallen in the last 24 hours as low as 2000-2500 feet in the foothills of the Southern Sierra Nevada and the Western Mojave Desert.
Monterey, NWS Forecast Area (Bay Area):
* Coastal Area general range of precipitation: 4.25 to 8.00 inches
* Interior Area general range of precipitation: 3.5 to 9.25 inches
* 6 inches measured on Mount Hamilton (no change although snow flurries at locales down to 2000 feet).
Sacramento, National Weather Service Forecast Area:
* Shasta County Mountains: 8.5 to 16.5 inches of rain
* Sierra Nevada: 6 to 9 inches of rain.
* Sierra Foothills: 6 to 13 inches of rain.
* Valleys and Delta: 3 to 8 inches rain (max in Northern Valley)
* Sierra Nevada snowfall (north of I-80): 5 to 9.5 feet above 6000 feet
* Sierra Nevada snowfall (south of I-80): 4 to 8.5 feet at the ski resorts
Reno, National Weather Service Forecast Area:
* 0.25 to 1.5 inches of rainfall for portions of Lassen, Plumas and Sierra counties since Sunday
* Lassen, eastern Plumas, eastern Sierra counties: snowfall totals generally 6 to 10 inches, with locally 30-40 inches above 6000 feet since Sunday.
Lake Tahoe Basin:
* Below 7000 feet: 12-24 inches, since Sunday
* Above 7000 feet: 5-7 feet since Sunday
*Between 6000 and 7000 feet: 40-70 inches (with locally higher amounts, i.e. Mammoth Ski Area) since Sunday.
February 11, 2010
Eureka, National Weather Service Forecast Area:
Redwood (North) Coast and Mendocino Coast:
* 4 to 6 inches; locally as high as 6 to 8 inches.
Coastal Mountains of Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties:
* 6 to 8 inches; locally as high as 16 to 19 inches.
Interior Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties:
* 5 to 7 inches; locally as high as 8 to 9 inches
* 2 to 6 inches: 2,000 to 3,000 feet
* 6 to 20 inches: 3,000 to 4,000 feet
* 20 to 60 inches: 4,000 feet and above (locally higher amounts)
NOTE: Very little precipitation fell across northwest California Friday, January 22, 2010, rainfall amounts generally only 0.1-0.5 inches over the past 24 hours (additional snow amounts of 1 inch (3000 feet) to 4 inches (5000+ feet).
In response to the amount of snow and rainfall described above, local emergency operations centers were opened throughout the state to coordinate emergency response activities including flood-fighting, evacuations, sheltering, emergency protective measures and power restoration.
To support the local response activities, I activated the State Operations Center and our three Regional Emergency Operations Centers. Cal EMA coordinated and issued 31 formal mission requests to state agencies including the California National Guard (CNG), Department of Water Resources (DWR), Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), Conservation Corps (CCC), Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California Highway Patrol (CHP). These state departments performed and provided support to first-response activities including flood-fighting, tree removal, roadway clearance, evacuations, etc.
Other state departments including Social Services (CDSS), Public Health (CDPH), and the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) were instrumental in supporting evacuation and sheltering needs, monitoring potential public health impacts associated with drinking water systems, sewage spills, and identifying health facilities that could be impacted by the storms. At the peak, more than 2,400 homes were evacuated with numerous shelters opened.
Cal EMA also activated its Business and Utilities Operations Center to coordinate private sector resources, including the restoration of power outages suffered throughout the state as a result of the winter storms. Nearly 680,000 customers experienced outages; at the peak, approximately 161,000 customers were without power.
Due to the continuing threat of additional precipitation and debris and mud flows, I have directed the following state actions:
· Cal EMA: Continue to monitor the situation, coordinate missions and activate emergency operations centers as necessary. Thirteen Cal EMA-supported swift water rescue teams also stand ready to respond. Continue to coordinate with NWS and FEMA to pre-position and deploy critical resources as the winter weather continues to impact Southern California.
· DWR: Flood-fighting supplies have been pre-positioned throughout the state for deployment.
· CCC: Approximately 80 crews can be deployed for flood control and response efforts.
· CNG: Airassets to provide missions support.
· CDPH: Continue to monitor potential public health impacts and support sheltering needs.
· EMSA: continue to monitor and stand ready to coordinate Ambulance Strike Team resources.
· CAL FIRE: Approximately196 hand crews as well as fire engines and overhead personnel are available for response.
· CDSS: Continue to support sheltering needs.
· Caltrans: Debris removal equipment including bulldozers, heavy loaders and dump trucks.
· CaliforniaVolunteers: Coordinate pre-identified volunteer resources if requested.
I certify that for this major disaster, the state and local governments will assume all applicable non-federal share of costs required by the Stafford Act. Total expenditures are expected to exceed $59,109,744, in accordance with the table in Enclosure D.
I request direct federal assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property. Due to the severity of this disaster, it may take some time for state or local governments to perform or contract for this type of work and these services.
In accordance with 44 CFR, Section 206.208, the State of California agrees that it will, with respect to direct federal assistance:
1. Provide without cost to the United States all lands, easements and rights-of-way necessary to accomplish the approved work;
2. Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the requested work, and indemnify the federal government against any claims arising from such work;
3. Provide reimbursement to FEMA for the non-federal share of the cost of such work in accordance with the provisions of the FEMA-State Agreement; and
4. Assist the performing federal agency in all support and local jurisdictional matters.
In addition, I anticipate the need to remove debris that poses an immediate threat to lives, public health and safety. Pursuant to Sections 403 and 407 of the Stafford Act,
42 U.S.C. Sections 5170b and 5173, the state agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the United States of America for any claims arising from the removal of debris or wreckage for this disaster. The state agrees that debris removal from public and private property will not occur until the landowner signs an unconditional authorization for the removal of debris.
I have designated Cal EMA Secretary Matthew R. Bettenhausen as the State Coordinating Officer for this request. He will work with FEMA in damage assessments and may provide further information or justification on my behalf.