President Joe Biden on Saturday declared a disaster for the storm-damaged parts of California, freeing up federal aid to help state and local recovery efforts in Merced, Sacramento and Santa Cruz counties.
Biden’s declaration came hours after Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell and CalOES Chief Deputy Lisa Mangat visited Santa Cruz County to tour the damages.
The tour began in Bay Village around the Atri Park area and moved to Holohan and College roads, which were under flood waters at the time. The tour also included the Seacliff area and Capitola Village before ending with a presentation and discussion at the County Emergency Operations Command office.
“The need for disaster relief is clear and present in all the affected areas in the district, and I hope FEMA will expedite its process,” Supervisor Felipe Hernandez said during the presentation.
Hernandez added that the most important message for residents with flood damage is to document everything: keep receipts, take pictures and videos of all the damages, and track any work done or expenses incurred due to flooding.
Watsonville City Councilwoman Ari Parker, whose District 6 in Watsonville sustained most of the flood damages, stressed that many in her district are on a fixed income and that federal recovery is desperately needed.
FEMA assistance includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help residents and business owners recover.
Funds are also available to local governments and nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in the affected counties.
Damage assessments are continuing, and additional areas may be designated for assistance after the assessments are fully completed.