President Obama officially declared the December floods in the state of Washington a natural disaster yesterday, 03 February, 2016.
The declaration means that federal disaster aid can be made available to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by the severe weather that struck between 01 to 14 December. At least 10 counties could benefit from the aid.
Several days of heavy rain in parts of Oregon and Washington caused widespread flooding and landslides, prompting flood rescues and forcing homes to be evacuated. Two people died in the storms in Oregon.
Funding is available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storm. Damage was caused by straight-line winds, flooding, landslides, mudslides, and a tornado.
The ten Washington counties benefiting from the aid are Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Skamania, and Wahkiakum counties.
At the time, Washington Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed a state of emergency following what he described as “days of hazardous weather with landslides closing major highways, high winds knocking out power to thousands, and rainfall causing wide-spread flooding of roadways, homes and property”.
In his statement, the Governor said that the storms had:
“produced high winds and heavy rainfall that saturated soils, caused major flooding, landslides, stream bank and slope erosion, fallen tree limbs, broken and uprooted trees, and flying debris.”