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Jan 21

Washington Emergency Management Division

State, SBA reviewing flood, landslide damages for disaster assistance eligibility

Posted by Washington Emergency Management Division

State, SBA reviewing flood, landslide damages for disaster assistance eligibility

CAMP MURRAY – State and federal disaster assistance staff are in Grays Harbor County today to review damage assessments from the early January storms to help determine potential eligibility for federal disaster assistance.

Staff from the Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division will accompany officials from the Small Business Administration to verify damage reported to date to Grays Harbor County.  This review will help determine whether uninsured losses are sufficient for the state to request the SBA’s disaster assistance loan program for small businesses, homeowners and renters.  The SBA has programs that provide low-interest loans to help people make repairs to homes and small businesses, and replace personal possessions or inventory after a disaster.

“We’re working with the Small Business Administration right now because we believe this is the quickest way to obtain disaster assistance for people impacted by the floods and mudslides earlier this month,” said Sheryl Jardine, Interim Manager of the Emergency Management Division’s Mitigation, Response and Recovery unit.  “The damage we’ve seen in Grays Harbor County to date, while substantial, does not appear at this time to meet criteria that would allow the state to be successful in requesting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster assistance grant program for individuals and households.”

FEMA turned down the state’s request for such assistance for Okanogan County during last summer’s Carlton Complex fire even though it destroyed 300 homes and the availability of rental properties for impacted homeowners was non-existent.  To date, the number of homes reported with substantial (40 percent) uninsured losses caused by the January storm is fewer than 50.

Nevertheless, homeowners and small business owners who have not yet reported damage to the county should do so as quickly as possible.  “We can only ask for disaster assistance programs that it looks like we qualify for, and we only have a brief window in which to ask for them” said Jardine  “Holding back, and not reporting damages to the county for whatever reason, only hurts our ability to seek help for people who need it the most.”

Those who have not yet reported damages can do so through the Grays Harbor County web site, http://www.co.grays-harbor.wa.us/Index.asp.  There are separate links on the home page for homeowners and renters, and for businesses that experienced economic damage.  The county’s web site also has links to information on how to clean up after a flood.  It is important that homeowners, business owners and renters document their damage with photos and in writing, and maintain receipts for cleanup and repair expenses.

In addition, state emergency management staff continues to work with officials in the county and its communities to finalize initial estimates of damage to public infrastructure caused by the storm.