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Governor Newsom Expands Storm State of Emergency, Requests Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to Support Ongoing Response and Recovery 

SACRAMENTO – As California continues to deploy personnel and resources to protect communities and support recovery efforts amid ongoing severe storms, Governor Gavin Newsom today requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to bolster the emergency response and recovery in the counties of Calaveras, Kern, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Tulare, and Tuolumne.To date, the state has invested more than $60 million in direct response and recovery action to support communities impacted by these storms, including the deployment of the California National Guard and other state personnel to perform lifesaving rescue missions; the mobilization of food, water, sandbags, cots, and other commodities to areas in need; and providing equipment and personnel to assist in the fortification of levees, clearing of debris and snow from roadways, medical support at shelters, and staffing support for local assistance centers.

The Presidential Major Disaster Declaration request encompasses the communities impacted by flooding, snow, mudslides, avalanches, and debris flows that resulted from storms beginning February 21. Additional counties may be added as further damage assessments are conducted, particularly in areas where record snowpack makes it difficult to accurately assess the full extent of damages. The text of the Governor’s request can be found here.

The Governor also expanded the storm state of emergency to the counties of Alameda, Marin, Modoc and Shasta, which join 43 counties the Governor has previously proclaimed a state of emergency for since the start of severe winter storms in late February. The text of the Governor’s storm emergency proclamation can be found here.

“Over these past months, state, local and federal partners have worked around the clock to protect our communities from devastating storms that have ravaged every part of our state,” said Governor Newsom. “We will continue to deploy every tool we have to help Californians rebuild and recover from these storms.”

If approved, a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration will help people in the impacted counties through eligibility for programs and support that can include housing assistance, food aid, counseling, medical services and legal services. The request includes public assistance to help state, tribal and local governments with ongoing emergency response costs. The request also includes hazard mitigation, which helps state and local governments reduce the risks and impacts of future disasters.

At Governor Newsom’s request, President Biden previously issued a Presidential Emergency Declaration authorizing federal assistance to support storm response and recovery efforts. Earlier this year, California secured a Major Disaster Declaration in response to severe storms that began in late December.

All-In State Response

California has weathered more than a dozen atmospheric rivers since late December. California’s emergency response to the widespread storm impacts has involved nearly every part of the state government, and ongoing response and recovery efforts include:

  • Local Assistance Center opened in Watsonville today, where state, local and philanthropic organizations will be available to connect community members and businesses suffering disaster-related damages with supports in various languages, including languages Indigenous to Latin America.
  • Supporting undocumented workers and communities ineligible for FEMA individual assistance due to immigration status, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is mobilizing existing funds from the state’s Rapid Response Fund to provide disaster recovery services to immigrant Californians experiencing the ongoing impacts of floods and recent weather events. These efforts also include ensuring mixed-status families are accessing federal and state resources that they may be eligible for.
  • CDSS is distributing the state’s Guide to Disaster Assistance Services for Immigrant Californians (English version) (Spanish version), regardless of immigration status, within impacted communities.
  • A group of senior state officials were on the ground in Monterey County last week to discuss long-term recovery resources for water system cleanup, debris removal, wrap-around services, school district supports and more.
  • Staff from the Department of Toxic Substance Control has four teams on the ground removing household hazardous waste.
  • The California Conservation Corps is delivering drinking water and commodities to residents who do not have potable water.
  • The California Water Boards are coordinating with local water systems to inform the public about flood-related drinking water impacts, and working directly with wastewater facilities to address impacts and provide technical support.
  • The Department of Water Resources continues to support flood fighting efforts in Monterey and Tulare counties. In addition to fulfilling a request for one mile of muscle wall and 10,100 super sacks to plug breaches, the state Flood Operations Center has activated additional staff to support long-term planning for flood risk throughout the snowmelt season to protect communities.
  • The Cal OES Office of Private Sector and Non-Governmental Affairs is coordinating volunteers and private philanthropic groups to expedite “muck & gut” cleanup efforts of homes and businesses in Pajaro.
  • The Cal Guard has 59 soldiers and 20 High-Water Vehicles deployed in the counties of San Joaquin, Monterey, Fresno and Stanislaus – including 8 vehicles and 18 soldiers in the Tulare Basin area, postured for immediate flood and rescue operations support. In addition, 27 Guardsmen from Task Force Rattlesnake are deployed in Tulare County.
  • Cal Guard has deployed one Lakota helicopter and crew to provide aerial reconnaissance flights for Tulare County in coordination with local authorities. One Chinook helicopter and crew are deployed in standby support of heavy lift operations in Stockton.
  • CAL FIRE has 26 hand crews deployed statewide. In Tulare County, CAL FIRE has five Damage Inspection Teams, an Incident Management Team, one helicopter and a mobile communications center. Two Drone Teams are operating in Pajaro.
  • Caltrans has mobilized more than 3,500 crew members statewide, working 24/7 in shifts to keep roads open and quickly respond to emergencies. 530 million cubic yards of snow have been plowed statewide so far this year.
  • The Department of General Services (DGS) continues to offer 24-hour support procuring goods and services to assist in the response and recovery to the storms and flooding, including two potable water tenders to Pajaro and coordinating 2,000 meals a day delivered to feed this community.
  • Through CDSS, the state continues to staff emergency shelters for displaced residents and CDSS is working with local officials to coordinate food, water and other supplies such as cots and blankets. There are currently 11 shelters open statewide.
  • The Labor and Workforce Development Agency is coordinating with local partners and nonprofits to identify support that residents in affected counties may need, including distributing information on disaster assistance for immigrants, how to access interpreter services for outreach to Indigenous communities, and ongoing efforts to drive resources through community organizations that are mobilizing to provide assistance. Through the COVID-19 Workplace Outreach Project, a resource fair for farmworkers has been organized for this Wednesday in Salinas.
  • 11 fairgrounds overseen by the California Department of Food and Agriculture are open for shelter or staging needs and are currently housing 438 people, the majority at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. Field staff in Tulare and Kings counties are working with dairies to help evaluate animal evacuation needs.
  • California Volunteers has deployed AmeriCorps California Emergency Response Corps members to animal shelters in Tulare County to help provide care for animals and pets displaced by the storms.
  • DGS and the Division of the State Architect have Safety Assessment Professionals on the ground inspecting schools and public buildings to ensure the buildings are safe to occupy.
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