Caltrans to get millions in federal aid for Station fire, windstorm repairs
By Daniel Siegal, February 15, 2013
Rep. Adam Schiff, in announcing the funding, vowed to change the disaster assistance funding formula.
The federal government has allotted more than $3.2 million to repair local roads damaged by fierce winds and fire disasters that have struck the foothills and San Gabriel Valley in recent years.
In an announcement by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) on Friday, the California Department of Transportation was awarded $1.37 million to pay for roads damaged by the 2011 windstorm, and $1.9 million for damages inflicted by the 2009 Station fire.
Schiff said in a statement that while every little bit helps, assistance from the federal government to help local areas recover from the disasters was still inadequate due to a faulty funding formula.
“While this help is critical, Southern California will not receive anywhere near the level of federal assistance needed, because the formula [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] uses makes it extremely difficult for communities in large population counties and states to reach the threshold needed to qualify for federal aid,” he said.
The 2009 Station fire scorched more than 150,000 acres of land, destroying dozens of structures and killing two firefighters. Land and infrastructure in the Angeles National Forest affected by the fire is still on a path to recovery.
“This money will help the continuing process of rebuilding the forest and roads throughout the Foothills,” Schiff said. “But it’s clear that much work still remains to be done.”
Schiff announced he would be introducing legislation to try and remedy this problem in the upcoming days. Schiff introduced legislation in the last session of Congress to address this problem, but it didn’t pass.
The windstorm in 2011 knocked out power to more than 220,000 Southern California Edison customers, toppled thousands of trees and 250 power poles and caused tens of millions of dollars' worth of damage to businesses, cars, homes and government property.
Schiff pledged to introduce legislation that would amend the federal disaster assistance formula to address the threshold problem that cities like Pasadena, which was ravaged by the windstorm, face in seeking financial help.