Disaster declaration issued for county

It looks like San Benito County will be receiving help from the federal government, after all.

President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration for California on Tuesday night.

A Federal Emergency Management Agency fact sheet sent out Tuesday night stated that the declaration triggered the release of federal funds to help communities recover from storms, flooding and mudslides that occurred between Jan. 3 and Jan. 12.

San Benito County is designated to receive assistance for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities, the fact sheet stated. The nearby counties of Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara were also designated as public assistance areas.

Supervisor Mark Medina said he’s trying to organize a town hall meeting for next week to address the declaration.

“I’m trying to organize a town hall meeting between (Congressman Jimmy Panetta), (State Assemblywoman Anna Caballero) and ourselves to see what we need to do and educate everyone on the process,” Medina said Wednesday.

Additionally, FEMA stated that all areas in California are eligible for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

The program provides grants to both state and local governments in order to implement hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration.

“The purpose of the program is to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster,” a letter from FEMA regarding the program stated. “FEMA can fund up to 75 percent of the eligible costs of each project.”

The letter stated that while individual homeowners and businesses can’t apply directly to the program, a community can apply on behalf of the homeowners and businesses. However, it’s unclear how “community” is defined.

“We’re going to look into anything and everything we can to bring money into this county because of the flooding,” Medina said. “If (the grant program) is something we have to go down, we’ll take a look at it.”

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