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Deadline to receive federal assistance for storm damage is three days away

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Posted at 6:20 PM, Mar 13, 2023

Communities on the Central Coast have been in recovery mode since the January 9th storms and the deadline to receive federal assistance is three days away.

It can get a bit confusing to understand whether you are able to apply for financial help from FEMA following the rainfall this year.

“If we're talking about a new declaration. It's going to be a different event with different declaration numbers, so the events are going to be independent," said Arlene Diaz, FEMA media relations specialist.

FEMA said there is a damage assessment underway to identify if a major declaration will be approved and allow future assistance for the March flooding.

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency earlier this month for 13 of 58 counties in the state. On Friday President Biden approved that declaration that frees up resources for disaster relief.

Now it’s just a waiting game.

“Declaring a local emergency is just one tool in our toolbox to help raise community awareness," said Whitney Szentesi, City of San Luis Obispo Public Communications Manager.

Some cities across the Central Coast declared a local emergency prior to the storms' arrival.

“The City of San Luis Obispo typically declares a local emergency when there's a credible and serious threat to public health or safety," added Szentesi.

It can be issued for a number of reasons including communicating to the public the seriousness of the event.

“It really helps us identify resources and kind of redirect those resources to help with storm response or emergency response and relief. It also helps the city of San Luis Obispo get reimbursement from FEMA for all of those resources that we have redirected during the emergency," explained Szentesi.

FEMA says homeowners and businesses don’t have to wait to start the recovery process.

“When we have an event, we encourage people to take pictures and videos up through the affected area because they really don't need to wait for us to do the recovery process so they can start cleaning and doing the process," added Diaz.

Sn Luis Obispo city officials are also urging the community to report any storm-related damages.

“It really helps the community as a whole. Get qualified for FEMA reimbursement. Reports that come in and kind of get added together and it's kind of a cumulative report that gets sent to FEMA," said Szentesi.

FEMA applicants have 60 days to appeal any application that may have been denied. The agency also recommends saving a copy of any receipts related to your storm recovery process. That information can be provided during the application.

FEMA applications can be done online, by phone, or through the FEMA app.