California requests federal aid for storm recovery


Justin Som

After the heavy rains in February, the wooden fences at Twin Pines Park have collapsed due to the unstable footing underneath.

Justin Som, Staff Writer

To aid repairs for flooding and rain damages, Governor Jerry Brown requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration on March 19. The request comes only a month after residents of the town of Oroville evacuated due to flood alerts from Oroville Dam.

“California has experienced one of the heaviest precipitation years in its recent history… and the storms that occurred in January and February have been extremely destructive to the state,” said Brown in his request to President Donald Trump for the declaration.  “I am now requesting that you declare a Major Disaster for the State of California.”

This formal request by Brown will be the fourth that he has submitted thus far. The previous three had already been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) so that California could get federal aid for flooding, mudslides, erosion, power outages and damage to critical infrastructure.

Brown’s newest declaration aims to gain funding for repairs to the Oroville Spillway and to help residents and towns recover from road damages, evacuations, and downed power lines. Since the storm had caused pipeline and road damages, cities had been previously forced to withdraw funds from their own budgets in order to resolve any outstanding issues.

“I think it’s a good thing that we try to repair any current damages in our local area,” said Kim Rivera, a senior. “While there’s a break in the rain, we should try to repair as much as we can. As for the Oroville Dam though, I don’t think we should try to fix the spillway this late in the game. Instead, we should try to prevent any further damages from it since it is too late to stop the spillway from getting any worse.”

According to Brown’s letter, public assistance will be requested for the 48 counties in which a state of emergency had been issued. San Mateo County is included among this group.

“I think the declaration will definitely be beneficial for California,” said Christian Licudine, a junior. “The damages definitely need to be fixed, and without the declaration, many counties would have to pull out of their own pockets for the large costly repairs. If we get the federal funding we need, it would be amazing because then we can give people back the plumbing, roads, and electricity that they need.”