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SLO County seeks help from state and feds for storm damages 

San Luis Obispo County is applying for millions in disaster assistance funds to repair the damage wrought by the severe rainstorms that slammed the Central Coast at the beginning of the year.

The state and federal funding will allow the county to be reimbursed for the cost of fixing damage to public roads and property, and overtime for emergency responders.

The funds cover damages from the storms that occurred between Jan. 3 and Jan. 12 and Jan. 18 to Jan. 23, 2017, in the county’s jurisdiction, including unincorporated areas and community services districts. SLO County Emergency Services Manager Ron Alsop said the damage from those storms was spread out widely across the county, with the most severe impact on roads.

“There are also damages to county parks and a number of cities have damages and various other local areas,” Alsop said.

According to data from the county, fixing the damage to county roads alone will cost an estimated $3.6 million. That includes $270,000 in repairs to Cayucos Creek Road in Cambria; $120,000 in repairs to Upper Barros Road in Nipomo; and $310,000 in repairs to Santa Rosa Creek Road in Cambria, among other big ticket road fixes. In addition to the property damage, Alsop also said that county firefighters incurred $60,000 in overtime during the storms.

Much of that money will be reimbursable though the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) and the California Office of Emergency Services. During the storms, SLO County was one of several California counties included in disaster proclamations by both Gov. Jerry Brown and President Donald Trump.

“This allows entities in the county to submit a request for assistance,” said Victor Ingel, a FEMA spokesman. “It’s primarily a reimbursement program.”

While the county is still calculating the final costs, a staff report indicated that the state and federal disaster funds could cover up to 90 percent of the cost of repair projects eligible for reimbursement under the program.

“Without the federal and state disaster recovery assistance, the county would need to fund 100 percent of road and other storm damages and costs from the general fund or other local sources,” the report stated.

In addition, Alsop said several cities in SLO County would likely apply for disaster relief funds. On March 4, the Pismo Beach City Council voted to move forward with seeking the funding. The council was one of the first to declare a state of emergency during the January storms, which caused flooding, road damage, and bluff erosion in the city. According to city staff, the storms caused an estimated $3 million to $6 million in damage.

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