California Governor Expands State of Emergency to 11 More Storm-Battered Counties

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Newsom also sent a letter to the president asking for a major disaster declaration to help with storm recovery costs.

A state of emergency declared in February for much of rain-soaked Southern California has been extended to 11 more counties by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who also called for disaster assistance from the president.

Mr. Newsom first declared a state of emergency Feb. 4 in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties due to severe winter storms, according to his proclamation.

“The impacts from these winter storms caused significant damage to highways and roadways and widespread damage to public property,” the proclamation said.

The storms mostly damaged public infrastructure, resulting in “significant” costs to state and local governments. The declaration helps speed up the delivery of vital supplies and resources, deployment of disaster responders, and the issuing of evacuation orders.

The governor’s March 22 announcement extends the emergency to the following 11 counties: Alameda, Butte, Glenn, Lake, Mendocino, Monterey, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, and Sutter.

In a letter to the White House, the governor also requested that a major disaster be declared for Butte, Glenn, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Sutter, and Ventura counties.

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If approved, it would make available federal funds and public assistance to help state, tribal, and local governments with storm recovery and emergency response costs. It also directs Caltrans to immediately request federal help in highway repairs, among other things.

“With critical infrastructure damaged or destroyed and major flooding within vulnerable population centers, the impacts have been profound and have tragically caused 11 known fatalities,” the letter says.

California’s atmospheric-river storms lasted from Jan. 31 through Feb. 9, according to the letter, which included National Weather Service data on snow accumulation.

It also pointed out that soil saturation and high winds throughout the state toppled power lines and caused outages for 1.4 million customers, and that two tornadoes in San Luis Obispo County uprooted large trees and damaged vehicles and powerlines. School closures were widespread, the letter added.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state have incurred $87 million in costs stemming from the winter storms, the letter said.

It adds that since 2021, California has had 22 events that have required a state of emergency or major-disaster declaration, and the total cost is nearly $3 billion.

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