President Clinton on Monday said residents and business owners of 27 storm-damaged California counties - including San Joaquin, Merced and Calaveras - are eligible for federal disaster assistance.
The president made the declaration a day after Gov. Pete Wilson requested federal help.
“That was a real quick response by the president,” San Joaquin County spokesman Carl Dombek said. “We’re glad to see the president recognize the level of the disaster and responded so quickly. It’s going to mean federal assistance in the bills accrued in fighting the floods as well as the individuals who are affected.”
At the behest of Wilson and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the Clinton administration has authorized help in four areas:
Individual assistance, which includes rental aid for temporary housing, grants to make residences minimally inhabitable, payments for those temporarily unemployed due to the disaster, and grants of up to $13,400 for various needs not covered by flood insurance or other disaster aid. Also, low-interest loans will be made for long-term residence and business repairs.
Protective measures for public health and sandbagging, emergency levee construction, overtime pay and additional emergency personnel.
Debris clearance of streams, channels and roadways.
Hazard mitigation aid to state and local governments.
U.S. Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., whose district includes a portion of San Joaquin and all of Merced County, also applauded Clinton’s rapid response.
“Because of the magnitude of the flooding, I am very happy to see President Clinton taking swift action to bring a full array of federal relief to the Central Valley,” Condit said. “We need to bring every bit of assistance available to help state and local agencies deal with this disaster as rapidly as possible, and I stand ready to provide assistance wherever I may.”
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said additional counties could be added to the list should the storms continue and the damages worsen.
However, some residents and business owners might not qualify, particularly if Stanislaus County is added to the list. Anyone who took advantage of state and federal aid during last year’s floods - and who did not subsequently buy flood insurance - likely will not be eligible for further aid.