State assessing damages from winter storm emergency

In the wake of the snow and ice storms and heavy winds that hit the state earlier this month, Gov....

In the wake of the snow and ice storms and heavy winds that hit the state earlier this month, Gov. Chris Gregoire and her staff are working with state agencies including the State Emergency Management Division (EMD) and the Washington State Department of Transportation to determine what kinds of federal assistance may be available.

“We know the latest round of storms hurt many families and businesses,” Gregoire said. “We have immediately started the process to see whether any damage qualifies for federal assistance. If so — it’s critical we get that help as soon as we can. I know counties and EMD plan to complete their assessment processes quickly so that people and businesses get the help they need if they qualify.”

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.

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.

“We know that a lot of damage we get from winter weather is typically covered by insurance,” said Jim Mullen, EMD Director. “In addition to reporting losses to their county emergency management offices, the public and business owners should be sure to check with their insurance agents. Federal disaster assistance, if and when it becomes available, only covers uninsured losses.”

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 Web site 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 .

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