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Gov. Gregoire requests federal disaster declaration for winter storm, snow

For Immediate Release: February 9, 2009

OLYMPIA—Gov. Chris Gregoire today asked President Obama to declare a federal disaster area in most of Washington due to public facility damage and emergency response costs resulting from winter storms and snowfall that occurred between Dec. 12, 2008, and Jan. 5, 2009.

Preliminary state and federal damage assessments found an estimated $28.5 million in eligible damage across the state from a series of “record and near-record snowfall, record cold temperatures, blizzard conditions, freezing rain, freezing fog, heavy frost, avalanches, landslides, mudslides, flooding, heavy rain on snow and high winds,” according to the governor.

Gregoire further explained that “the series of weather-related events triggered by the snowfall and storms of mid-December left widespread damage to our state’s infrastructure, especially to roads and bridges. In addition, state and local agencies incurred extraordinary costs to pay for emergency actions to clear snow debris and protect critical infrastructure.”

The governor’s request seeks federal disaster aid for a total of 33 counties. The preliminary damage assessments indicated that nine counties qualified only for disaster assistance related to debris removal and emergency measures related to snow; six counties qualified only for severe winter storm damage to public facilities, and 18 counties qualified for both the debris removal/emergency measures and for damage to public facilities.

“Because state and federal emergency officials have worked in close partnership on this request, I am confident it will receive prompt and thorough consideration by President Obama and the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” the governor said.

The following lists identify which counties are recommended for which type of disaster assistance in the request:

SNOW: Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Franklin, Kittitas, Pierce, Whitman, Yakima

SEVERE WINTER STORM: Clark, Garfield, Island, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens

SEVERE WINTER STORM/SNOW: Clallam, Columbia, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, King, Klickitat, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, Whatcom

If the declaration is approved, the Federal Emergency Management Agency grants defray 75 per cent of the eligible damages and costs.