Gov. Jay Inslee thanked President Obama on Tuesday for quickly approving a second major disaster declaration request in two months, this time in connection with a December storm that brought heavy rains, flooding, landslides, strong winds, as well as a tornado in Clark County.

“Once again, I thank the Obama Administration for its quick response and support for a second disaster declaration in a month due to the damaging effects of another winter storm,” Inslee said.  “This storm caused damages in excess of $19 million. As I said before, our budgets are stretched very thin. This assistance will help our communities make repairs and resume important services that Washingtonians rely on.”

The declaration makes available the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance program for 10 counties. The program provides federal funds to pay for up to 75 percent of the costs of eligible debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities and public infrastructure for eligible local, state and tribal governments, as well as certain private nonprofit organizations.

The counties that are eligible for the assistance include: Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum. The disaster declaration also provides grants for hazard mitigation efforts statewide.

The declaration covers damage that occurred between Dec. 1-14, when heavy rainfall exceeded 20 inches in parts of the Olympic Mountains and as much as 10 inches in lowland areas. Runoff resulted in rivers exceeding flood stage on more than two dozen rivers across the state, while landslides made dozens of roads impassable, including a portion of Interstate 5 in Cowlitz County. The storm also is responsible for producing an EF1 tornado in Clark County, which damaged 36 homes and two commercial buildings.

Last week, the Small Business Administration made its low-interest disaster loan programs available in Cowlitz County after receiving a request for assistance from the governor on Jan. 21. The SBA also made the loan programs available in adjacent counties of Clark, Lewis, Skamania and Wahkiakum. SBA loan officers began outreach efforts in Cowlitz County today.

SBA disaster loans are available to businesses, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters whose property was damaged or destroyed by the December storm.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency 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 a severe winter storm, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides, mudslides, and a tornado during the period of December 1-14, 2015.

The President’s action makes federal funding available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storm, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides, mudslides, and a tornado in Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Skamania, and Wahkiakum counties.

Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for the entire State of Washington.

Thomas J. Dargan has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.  Dargan 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 disaster declaration issued for the State of Washington.

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

  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for emergency work and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges, utilities, buildings, schools, recreational areas and similar publicly owned property, as well as certain private non-profit organizations engaged in community service activities. (Source: FEMA funded, territory 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, territory administered.)

How to Apply for Assistance:

  • Application procedures for state, tribal, and local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state 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.