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Biden approves California disaster declaration to aid with storm response

President Biden approved on Monday evening California’s request for a presidential major disaster declaration, boosting federal support as the state recovers from a string of severe storm systems. 

Confirming “that a major disaster exists in the State of California,” the declaration will bring aid to state, tribal and local efforts in areas affected by wintry weather, straight-line winds, floods, landslides and mudslides since mid-February, according to the White House. 

“This declaration brings in more vital resources as we continue to work in lockstep with local, state and federal partners to support communities that have been turned upside down by these storms,” Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said in a statement on Monday night, after receiving the approval. 

The presidential proclamation will also make federal funding available to affected communities in the counties of Kern, Mariposa, Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Tulare, and Tuolumne, a statement from the White House said.

Assistance will come in the form of grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses to help individuals and business owners, the declaration stated. 

Funding will also be available to eligible government entities and certain nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair of damaged facilities, according to the White House.  

The declaration occurred in response to a request sent to the White House last week by Newsom, who described how conditions in his state “continued to deteriorate due to the winter storms and ongoing atmospheric river events.” 

The request discussed the extent to which critical infrastructure and homes have been damaged and destroyed over the past few months by “near record, or record snowfall” in regions “not accustomed to snow.” 

California has throughout this winter relentlessly “been bombarded by storm after storm with little-to-no time to recover,” amassing nine known fatalities and bracing for additional flood threats caused by spring snowmelt, the letter warned.  

“First responders and state personnel are on the ground in hard-hit regions across California to assist the ongoing response and recovery,” Newsom said on Monday. “We are committed to supporting our communities over the long haul and thank the Biden Administration for their continued partnership.”

Source: The Hill

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