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Millions in FEMA aid given to SLO County residents impacted by January storms

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Posted at 8:27 AM, May 16, 2023

San Luis Obispo County residents are still rebuilding and recovering from the storms this past winter.

More than $6 million in FEMA aid has gone to people in SLO County who suffered severe damage from January’s storms.

Vista Court in Los Osos was inundated with feet of mud and water in January, leaving home after home uninhabitable.

“Two and a half months, we were out of our house,” said Alice Stone, who lives on Vista Ct. “I had to have every room cut four feet and two feet up in the walls. The shower was taken out, a toilet was sitting in the living room.”

Stone is now back in her home after spending weeks at a neighbor’s house up the street.

“It’s been a lot of work. I had a good contractor and he’s taking care of things. I’m very satisfied,” she said.

Her house is livable again, but there is still plenty of work to be done.

“We’ll finish doing what we have to do, take some more sand away. I need a gate,” explained Stone.

Alice is one of hundreds of people in San Luis Obispo County who received disaster relief money from FEMA.

“I think it’s made a huge difference,” said Rachel Dion, Emergency Services Coordinator for SLO County. “Some of the residents who were affected that had major damage to their homes received up to $40,000 from FEMA.”

According to the county, $6,006,312.19 in individual assistance has been approved for those hit hardest by January’s storms.

2,639 residents applied for FEMA individual assistance and 906 of those applications were approved.

“FEMA just provides enough money to make whole again,” said Dion. “They don’t provide the total amount of money for your losses.”

FEMA has also approved low-interest loans for 273 homeowners and businesses totaling $11,976,600.

The county says that federal disaster relief was only approved for January’s storms.

“FEMA did come out in April to visit homes that were damaged during the March storms as part of a preliminary damage assessment,” explained Dion. “We toured with FEMA to the homes that were reported damaged to us. Some of them were severely damaged however, FEMA determined that it was not enough total to qualify. So, it is unlikely at this time that we’d qualify however, it is still possible.”

The recovery process is now ramping up with the return of quiet weather.

“It was an eye-opening experience, but it was eye-opening that all the people stepped up and helped,” said Stone.

SLO County says it could take as long as 10 years to fully recover from this past rainy season.

It’s unclear how many claims are still pending, but the county says that the process has mostly wrapped up for FEMA aid.