State Assessing Damages from Winter Storm

In the wake of the snow and ice storms and heavy winds that hit the state Jan. 16-23, Gov. Chris Gregoire and her staff are working with state agencies including the State Emergency Management Division and the Washington State Department of Transportation to determine what kinds of federal assistance may be available. EMD is working with local emergency management agencies to assess the damages to homeowners, renters and businesses from the winter weather disaster. Their goal is to determine if the hardest-hit areas of the state suffered enough losses to justify a request for federal disaster assistance. Counties most affected by the winter storms began collecting damage information this week from individuals, families and businesses in their jurisdictions. If enough damage is identified, teams of officials from the counties, EMD and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will jointly conduct formal preliminary damage assessments. These damage assessments would be used by the governor to determine whether to request a disaster declaration and federal disaster assistance from the President. The deadline for submitting a request is Feb. 22, 2012. The damage assessment process may also show there are enough damaged homes and businesses to qualify for assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Homeowners, renters and business owners should still report their losses through the county damage reporting process. If a county qualifies for SBA assistance, there will be an announcement regarding the program’s availability. Meanwhile, the Secretary of Transportation is continuing to gather damage estimates to seek emergency relief funding from the Federal Highway Administration. Currently there is more than $1 million in damages to state and local jurisdictions highway infrastructure caused by the winter storms, with estimates still being finalized.

Washington homeowners, renters and business owners will find contact information for local emergency management offices is available at—http://www.emd.wa.gov/myn/myn_contact_info.shtml.

For more information about the federal disaster declaration process, see EMD’s website at http://emd.wa.gov/disaster/disaster_report_damages_types_of_assistance.shtml¸ or contact your local emergency management office.

For more information about assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration, go to http://www.emd.wa.gov/disaster/disaster_small_business_assistance_loans.shtml.