SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ -– In a letter to President Barack Obama, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. on Friday (April 22) requested a Presidential major disaster declaration for the state following a series of storms last month that brought heavy rain and snow, high winds and flooding, destroying and damaging property throughout the state.

Today’s request follows an emergency proclamation from the Governor for Alameda, Amador, Butte, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Stanislaus, Sutter, Trinity, Tuolumne, and Ventura Counties earlier this month.

The full text of the letter is below.

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500


Ms. Nancy Ward
Regional Administrator, Region IX
Federal Emergency Management Agency
1111 Broadway, Suite 1200
Oakland, CA 94607-4052

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to ask you to declare a major disaster for the State of California for damages sustained to seventeen counties from a series of storms last month that swept across California, bringing snowstorms, heavy rain, high winds, flooding, and flows of debris and mud. This request is made under Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§5121-5207, and implemented by 44 CFR §206.36.

The severe storms occurred between March 15 and 27, 2011, and they destroyed and damaged public facilities and private property throughout the state. The damage may not be over: ongoing threats remain, such as in Sutter County where saturation in some levees is causing horizontal cracking, slumping, slippage, seepage and boils. The seventeen California counties significantly impacted by the storm damage include Alameda, Amador, Butte, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Monterey, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Stanislaus, Sutter, Trinity, and Tuolumne.

In response to the storms, I executed California’s State Emergency Plan and directed the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) to activate the State Operations Center, which coordinated response efforts. State disaster response and recovery staff were immediately assigned and deployed to the disaster areas to assist local officials and other state agencies. On April 15, 2011, I declared a state of emergency, which included the seventeen significantly impacted counties.

A joint FEMA-State preliminary damage assessment (PDA) has resulted in statewide damage estimates of $44,547,342, in accordance with the table in Enclosure B. These assessments exceed California’s threshold of $44 million as established by FEMA. Preliminary damage estimates of the types and amount of assistance needed under the Stafford Act are tabulated in Enclosures B and the estimated requirements for assistance from certain federal agencies under other statutory authorities are tabulated in Enclosure C.

California is in an economic crisis, has a budget deficit of over ten billion dollars, and has suffered many disasters in the last 18 months due to severe winter storms, flooding, mudslides, fire, drought, heavy rains, and earthquake. Since January 2010, California has received four major federal disaster declarations, had six fires declared under FEMA’s Fire Management Assistance Grant Program, endured twenty events for which funds under the California Disaster Assistance Act were issued, and received four disaster designations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and ten U.S. Small Business Administration designations. More than 75 percent of California’s population is covered under at least one of the recent federal disaster declarations. With a combined total of more than $236 million in eligible damages statewide, which equates to more than $9 per capita in the impacted counties and approximately $7 per capita statewide, California is struggling to cope with the costs of these disasters. The impact at the local level during the last three months has also been significant. There have been sustained damages in Santa Cruz County of nearly $40 million, or $155 per capita, and sustained damages in Del Norte County of about $21 million, or $778 per capita.

I certify that the recent storm series, coupled with California’s other recent disasters, was and is of such severity and magnitude that supplementary federal assistance is necessary, as the effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected local governments. I specifically request that you provide public assistance programs and any other disaster recovery programs that may be appropriate for the counties of Alameda, Amador, Butte, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Monterey, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Stanislaus, Sutter, Trinity, and Tuolumne.

I am requesting that you make hazard mitigation assistance available statewide. California has an enhanced Hazard Mitigation Plan that was approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Cal EMA has requested a disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) based upon physical damages to homes and businesses in Santa Cruz County. For the counties that did not meet the criteria for a physical disaster declaration, economic injury surveys are currently being conducted to determine if the state can request an SBA Economic Disaster Injury Loan declaration.

I certify that for this major disaster, the state and local governments will assume all applicable non-federal shared costs as required by the Stafford Act. Total expenditures are expected to exceed $10,777,995, in accordance with the table in Enclosure D. In addition, I anticipate the need for debris removal, which poses an immediate threat to lives, public health, and safety. Under sections 403 and 407 of the Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. Sections 5170b and 5173, California 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’s Acting Secretary Mike Dayton as the state coordinating officer for this request. Mr. Dayton will work with FEMA in assessing damages and may provide further information or justification on my behalf.

Edmund G. Brown Jr.