MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County is seeking additional assistance from the Federal Emergency Disaster Administration (FEMA) to help recover from nearly $80 million in estimated storm damages.
Last week the county was added to the federal major disaster declaration for California for areas affected by the severe winter storms and subsequent flooding, landslides and mudslides beginning on Dec. 27, 2022. Along with Monterey, FEMA included San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on Jan. 17 to the declaration, which was initially approved for Santa Cruz, Sacramento and Merced counties.
“The declaration will open federal assistance to people and businesses in Monterey County affected by the county’s 2023 Winter Storms,” said Maia Carroll, the county’s communications coordinator. “Storm victims can apply for assistance if their home or business sustained storm-related damage. Assistance includes grants, low-cost loans or other programs.”
Currently, the county qualifies for FEMA’s funding categories A and B (debris removal and emergency protective measures), but it is now requesting to be considered for categories C through G (roads/bridges, water control facilities, buildings/equipment, utilities, parks and recreation).
County officials are continuing to gather damage information caused by the storms countywide, with the latest estimate nearing $80 million. The county reported initial estimates of at least $30 million in damages to public infrastructure and up to $50 million in losses to the local agriculture industry.
“The devastation from the recent severe storms has had far reaching impacts across California and California’s 19th District, causing significant damage to property and public infrastructure, and disruptions to the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians,” said U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta. “I commend President Biden’s quick action to make federal assistance and support available to Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties for our communities to begin to recover, repair, and ultimately return to our daily lives.”
Under the current declaration, federal funds can be used for assistance to individuals and households, emergency work and the repair and replacement of disaster-damaged facilities, debris removal and emergency protective measures, mitigation to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.
Individual assistance includes funds for temporary housing, repair or replacement of homes, uninsured disaster-related expenses and hazard mitigation, in addition to other critical services. To apply, visit DisasterAssistance.gov or call FEMA’s disaster assistance number at 1-800-621-3362.
Local Assistance Center opens
Over the weekend more than 300 families signed up for assistance at Monterey County’s Local Assistance Center (LAC), which opened its doors Saturday morning to help storm victims in the area.
As of Tuesday, the number of families registered for aid increased to 1,475.
“During our great turnout today, county staff took the time to talk with residents coming to the center to find out about their needs and concerns and encouraged them to visit all the tables offering services. It worked,” Carroll said Monday night. “Many did not realize how many services and agencies are under one roof here and that many benefits are available regardless of immigration status, including those with mixed status families.”
The LAC, located at the Spreckels Veterans’ Memorial Building at 90 Fifth St., will remain open through Thursday, Jan. 26, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.
At the center, residents can access information and resources needed for recovery, regardless of the type of damage suffered, location of impacted residence or business, insurance status, immigration status, or any other factor.
The LAC includes staff from VIDA partner organizations, the County of Monterey, the California Office of Emergency Service (CalOES), FEMA and various state and local agencies and nonprofits that include disaster recovery as part of their mission. Translation services are available onsite, as well.
“We want to encourage all those impacted by the storm to take the time to find out about all their options for recovery,” Carroll said.
Transportation is also being offered to residents from Pajaro and San Ardo, who can get free bus rides from Monterey-Salinas Transit to the LAC in Spreckels. Multilingual Community Health Workers will be on these shuttles and on site at the center to help residents navigate its many options.
“Residents in these communities can get free rides to the center to access disaster assistance,” Carroll said. “These shuttles will be ongoing throughout the center’s operation.”
Bus stop locations are at the following two sites: outside the Church of the Assumption in Pajaro, and across the street from Our Lady of Ransom Church in San Ardo. Residents can call 2-1-1 for information and schedule.
In addition, the Department of Emergency Management has launched a virtual Local Assistance Center, available in both English and Spanish, at the link www.co.monterey.ca.us/winterstormsVirtualLAC.
“The Virtual Local Assistance Center offers extensive information and sources for re-entry, recovery and eligibility for economic injury, physical damage or individual assistance for both residents and businesses,” Carroll said. “This is an online, ‘one stop’ shop for resources for those affected by the 2023 Winter Storms.”