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Government and Politics

San Luis Obispo County declares state of emergency to access funding

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Greta Mart
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SLO county experienced widespread flooding and mudslides.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has declared a countywide state of emergency due to damages from weeks of stormy weather. 

The board’s decision to declare a state of emergency was made, in part, to help local agencies, limited in their ability to respond to storm-related damages. Going forward, the county can streamline the approval processes necessary for receiving reimbursements from the state.

"Why did they do it? Because local resources are becoming somewhat overwhelmed," said Ron Alsop, San Luis Obispo County's emergency services manager. "And local resources include, of course, public works, road crews and other first responders."

The county’s declaration follows Governor Jerry Brown naming San Luis Obispo as one of 50 counties in a state of emergency. Mudslides, road closures, floods, and power outages swept the state over the past two weeks. More rain is expected next week.

While County workers may be overwhelmed, they are getting some help from state agencies.

"We’ve been having assistance from Cal Fire - for example, Cal Fire hand crews to help clear roads and cut trees and also help reinforce the levy, the Arroyo Grande levy, which is an ongoing challenge when it comes to heavy rain and flooding," Alsop said.

Through the California Disaster Assistance Act, the county can apply for up to 75 percent disaster-related reimbursement. But those dollars only can go to public agencies, not the general public. The county Office of Emergency is urging residents to continue to report storm-related damages. This information will be sent to state and federal authorities and could determine whether the county qualifies for a federal disaster declaration.

So what we would like people to know is to give us a call if they have damages, we need to collect damage information so we can pass it on to the state," Alsop said.

The state then takes a look at that info and decides whether or not to ask the federal government to proclaim a federal disaster

"Unfortunately, that’s the only way that we can really get some disaster assistance for members of the public," Alsop said.