U.S. President declares disaster for Washington State, releasing second wave of disaster aid

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Washington to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by flooding and mudslides beginning on March 22, 2014, and continuing.

This assistance is in addition to the support provided under the Presidential Emergency Declaration granted on March 24, 2014.

The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Snohomish County, including the Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, and Tulalip Tribes.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding is available to state and eligible tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work due to flooding and mudslides in Snohomish County, including the lands associated with the Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, and Tulalip Tribes.

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

Due to the localized impacts of the disaster, FEMA will work closely with residents, tribal members, and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area on a one on one basis.

Michael J. Hall has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.  Hall said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.


Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama’s major disaster declaration issued for Washington.


Assistance for Affected Individuals and Families Can Include as Required:


  • Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes were destroyed or are unlivable.  Initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters.  Assistance may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements.  (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
  • Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional.  (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
  • Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation, child care assistance and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs.   (Source: FEMA funded at 75 percent of total eligible costs; 25 percent funded by the state.)
  • Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals.  (Source: FEMA funded; state administered.)
  • Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance.  Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses.  Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance.  (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
  • Loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster’s adverse economic impact.  This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
  • Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence.  (Source: Farm Service Agency, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.)
  • Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans’ benefits and social security matters.

How to Apply for Individual Assistance:


  • Due to the localized impacts of the disaster, FEMA will work closely with residents, tribal members and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area on a one-on-one basis.


  • Affected individuals and business owners in designated areas can begin the disaster application process by registering online, at www.DisasterAssistance.gov , by web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).  Online registration is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers are operating from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time seven days a week until further notice. Applicants registering for aid should be prepared to provide basic information about themselves (name, permanent address, phone number), insurance coverage and any other information to help substantiate losses.


Assistance for the State, Tribes and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:


  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for emergency protective measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health.  Emergency protective measures assistance is available to state, tribal and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for recovery and cleanup from public areas and for emergency measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health, including direct federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program.(Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)


  • Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state, tribal and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters.  (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)


How to Apply for Public Assistance:


  • Application procedures for tribal and local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state and federal/tribal applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.


FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Grays Harbor PUD to Receive Nearly 4.5 Million Dollar Reimbursement From December Storm Response

“These big storms are expensive events and the FEMA dollars go a long way toward mitigating the cost,” said Commissioner Tom Casey. “We are especially grateful to U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Congressmen Norm Dicks and Brian Baird who supported our appeal of FEMA’s initial decision to deny us disaster aid and we appreciate the through review by the State of Washington and FEMA which resulted in an outcome that we believe is appropriate.”
Commissioner Casey also credits PUD Staff for their work on the appeal. “Our ratepayers also are well served by the persistent and professional work by PUD staff that compiled and presented our appeals to FEMA. Getting cash relief from FEMA requires a lot of smart work. It doesn’t happen automatically. This shows the value of competent hard-working staff."
In December 2007, southwestern Washington experienced a severe storm with winds of more than 100 mph and extensive flooding throughout the region. The county was declared a disaster area, and 98 percent of Grays Harbor PUD customers were without power at the worst point of the storm. Damage to the PUD’s system was extensive. Restoring power to the area was crucial to minimizing the impact of this disaster.  
“With winds in excess of 100 mph knocking over trees, blocking major highways, destroying buildings and crippling our electrical infrastructure, our first and only thought was to move quickly to protect public safety by restoring power,” Casey said. “This was not business as usual.
“It was critical for us to restore power as quickly as possible to ensure facilities providing vital resources such as food, lodging, fuel, and medical services were available to citizens. If we had not requested immediate assistance beyond our own line crews, many of the people impacted by the storm would not have had electrical power for weeks or longer. Any delay would have made the disaster much more devastating.”
Public utility crews from Grant, Douglas, Franklin and Okanogan Counties as well as the City of McCleary traveled to Grays Harbor to provide mutual aid. Additional contractors were called to the area to assist with repairs. FEMA approved disaster assistance to cover costs associated with the crews from other public utilities under mutual aid agreements, and contractors with existing contracts, but initially denied disaster aid to pay for costs associated with other contract crews. Casey pointed out that all the contract crews were approved contractors for use by the PUD and used standard storm rates.