Wildfire Recovery Assistance for Washington Reaches $3.5 Million from FEMA

DUPONT, Wash. – (RealEstateRama) — Federal grants to help Washington recover from the state’s worst wildfire season have topped $3.5 million, according to officials with the Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division (EMD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“FEMA grants offer significant financial relief for hard-hit communities in Washington,” said State Coordinating Officer Kurt Hardin of EMD. “From the emergency response through economic recovery, we’re all working together to get as much help as possible.”
The funding comes through FEMA’s Public Assistance program, which reimburses state and local governments, federally recognized tribes and certain nonprofit organizations for 75 percent of eligible disaster-related expenses. Grants may cover the costs of emergency protective measures, debris removal and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged infrastructure.
“Although the dollars go to governments and nonprofits after a disaster, they benefit everyone in a community,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Thomas Dargan of FEMA. “The money helps pay for efforts to protect people and property, clean up neighborhoods, and repair roads and bridges.”
Federal assistance provided to date includes:
  • $1.4 million—Public Utility District No. 1 of Chelan County—to restore power to 9,000 customers.
  • $349,000—Public Utility District No. 1 of Chelan County—to repair a mile-long transmission line and restore power to the Slide Ridge area
  • $303,000—Okanogan County Electric Cooperative—to repair high-voltage power lines and replace 38 burned poles and seven damaged transformers.
  • $188,000—Public Utility District No. 1 of Okanogan County—to repair a 6.5-mile section of high-voltage lines and a fiber optic network for Loup Loup.
  • $163,000—Chelan County—for emergency measures and services performed by first responders and support staff who set up roadblocks, manned a 911 call center, and evacuated and sheltered people and pets.
  • $139,000—Public Utility District No. 1 of Douglas County—to repair 11 miles of power lines and fiber optic cables between Chelan Falls and Wells Dam in Chelan County.
  • $106,000—Lake Chelan Reclamation District—to repair district-owned infrastructure that supports a mile-long power line owned by the public utility.
  • $103,000—Okanogan County—to repair asphalt surface on 43 roadways damaged by a mudslide and heavy traffic from firefighting equipment.
  • $98,000—Ferry County—for emergency measures and services performed by first responders, mainly evacuations and efforts in support of fire crews, base camps, marine patrols, emergency medical care, and search-and-rescue operations.
  • $90,000—Okanogan County—to clear 3,440 cubic yards of disaster-related debris that posed a threat to public health and safety.

The Oct. 20, 2015, major disaster declaration for the summer wildfires and mudslides made FEMA Public Assistance available to eligible applicants in eight counties: Chelan, Ferry, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Whatcom and Yakima; as well as the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. EMD and FEMA officials have identified 39 eligible applicants.

Officials estimate FEMA Public Assistance grants may eventually total as much as $27 million for the 2015 wildfires.

Other EMD and FEMA efforts include the following programs and assistance:

  • After both the 2014 and 2015 wildfire seasons, EMD and FEMA formed a multijurisdictional team, called the Erosion Threat Assessment/Reduction Team, to evaluate the threat of flooding, debris flows and erosion in affected counties. Agencies and landowners used the team’s evaluation and recommendations to help prioritize and implement protective measures to address the threat.
  • While wildfires burned prior to the declaration, FEMA approved 12 Fire Management Assistance Grants in Washington to help defray fire-suppression costs for tribal, state and local jurisdictions.
  • The disaster declaration made further funding available through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which means the state will receive another reserve of money for mitigation measures, equal to 20 percent of total Public Assistance grants awarded. That provision will help build stronger and safer communities in Washington.
As with all federal funding, FEMA considers the environmental impact of every project and must ensure compliance with all applicable federal, tribal, state and local laws.
More information about the Public Assistance program is available on the FEMA website atwww.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit and on the Washington EMD website athttp://mil.wa.gov/emergency-management-division/disaster-assistance/public-assistance.
Additional information on the federal response to the 2015 wildfire disaster, including funds obligated, is available at www.fema.gov/disaster/4243.
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