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Hundreds Still in Emergency Shelters as State Waits on Federal Storm Disaster Declaration Request

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Work is done to repair a levee break near the township of Pajaro in Monterey County, Calif., on March 13, 2023. Waters from the Pajaro River breached the levee around midnight on March 10, 2023. (Ken James/California Department of Water Resources via Bay City News)

By Eli Walsh
Bay City News

More than 300 residents in Santa Cruz County remained in emergency shelters on Monday due to recent storm damage as the state awaits approval of a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration.

While state-operated emergency shelters are also open in San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare counties, Santa Cruz had the highest census count in their three shelters, with 325 of the 424 total residents in emergency storm shelters across the state.

While the state has invested more than $60 million in disaster response and relief across multiple counties, Gov. Gavin Newsom requested the presidential disaster declaration, the highest level of federal assistance the state can request, on March 28 in an effort to expand emergency housing assistance, food aid and medical services.

If approved, the declaration would apply to Santa Cruz and Monterey counties along the Central Coast as well as Calavera, Kern, Los Angeles, Mariposa, San Benito, Tulare and Tuolumne counties.

State and U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are also assessing storm-related damage in other counties to determine if other counties could be added to the disaster declaration request.

“We want to emphasize that California took the time to get this right to ensure that it was approved,” said Brian Ferguson with the California Office of Emergency Services during a media briefing on March 30.

“We remain confident that we have made a thorough case that we meet the requirements and the thresholds set forth in federal law and that that aid from our federal government will be forthcoming soon,” Ferguson said.

President Joe Biden has already approved two other emergency declarations for the storms that have battered the West Coast over the last three months, authorizing federal relief assistance as many California counties recover from floods, downed trees and landslides.

The California Department of Social Services is also working with county officials and local community organizations to distribute essentials like food, water, diapers and formula to residents who have been affected by the recent storms.

“We are very, very grateful to all who have stepped up to provide support for those who need it most in many, many of the collaborations and partnerships that we’ve seen come into play,” said Kim Johnson, director of the Department of Social Services.

Residents who are seeking information about storm recovery and assistance are encouraged to visit https://news.caloes.ca.gov/2023-winter-storms-recovery.

“Over these past months, state, local and federal partners have worked around the clock to protect our communities from devastating storms that have ravaged every part of our state,” Newsom said in a March 28 statement. “We will continue to deploy every tool we have to help Californians rebuild and recover from these storms.

The post Hundreds Still in Emergency Shelters as State Waits on Federal Storm Disaster Declaration Request first appeared on Post News Group. This article originally appeared in Post News Group.

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