White House Declares Washington Major Disaster Area

December 10, 2007

President George W. Bush has declared a major disaster exists in the State of Washington and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides that began on Dec. 1, 2007, and are continuing.

Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis in the counties of Grays Harbor, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston for debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, under the public assistance program, the White House announced in a statement.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire welcomed the news but said the aid falls short of what she requested: federal money to help people get back on their feet following violent storms and widespread flooding. Gregoire announced that she would issue $300,000 in emergency state funding for that purpose. Last week, mainstream news media reported Gregoire estimating the damage at $1 billion.

“People who have been flooded out of their homes or who continue to live without power need help right now to meet their basic needs,” Gregoire said. “We are anxious to hear from the federal government about our request for individual assistance funds, but in the meantime, I want our residents to have the food, shelter, medical care and transportation they need.”

The state Transportation Department announced an immediate $1 million would be needed for repairs or cleanup needs.

As of Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007, the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies reported it had received more than 600 claims from the storms.

R. David Paulison, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Thomas P. Davies as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.

Sources: White House Press Office, Associated Press, Farmers

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