San Joaquin County is now eligible for FEMA aid.
One day after being left off the list of counties that would receive federal disaster assistance, the county has now been added to a Federal Emergency Declaration in response to a series of winter storms that have battered California and caused millions of dollars in damages locally.
“San Joaquin County needs support, and now federal resources are finally heading our way,” Rep. Josh Harder, D-Manteca, said in a Tuesday media statement.
Now, the county is eligible for Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency Category B measures which include flood fighting; evacuation and sheltering; medical care and transportation; use and lease of temporary power generators; elimination of threats on public or private property; construction of temporary structures; emergency repairs to prevent further damage; and extracting and clearing water, mud, and other forms of debris.
Tiffany Heyer, director of San Joaquin County’s Emergency Operations, told the board of supervisors on Tuesday that state officials used a “predictive model” to identify which counties could be used to “preposition” resources ahead of a disaster when reviewing federal assistance requests.
San Joaquin County was initially not included on the list.
However, Heyer said state and federal resources requested by the county were available if needed.
She said her staff is ready to ask for funding to reimburse disaster expenditures, which is estimated at $7 million throughout the county.
The county issued a state of emergency proclamation on Jan. 1, after a storm unleashed heavy rainfall and destructive winds on New Year’s Eve that resulted in flooding, toppled trees and downed power lines across the region.
Areas in the county initially impacted the most were in the north near the Mokelumne River, Heyer said, as power outages and water pump issues caused problems and hazards for residents.
During the storm on New Year’s weekend, more than 38,000 residents across the county were without power, Heyer said.
Many residents in the county’s New Hope area who were either without power or were anticipated to be caught in major flooding were relocated to the Lodi Grape Festival, she said.
Grape Festival manager Mark Armstrong said Tuesday morning that it had been about 15 years since the facility had been used to accommodate residents displaced by heavy storms.
“We’ve got 16 RV right now, and they’ve been here a week,” he said. “We’re active as a shelter for up to 30 days, but I don’t anticipate that this will go on that long. And we’re on standby for people who are evacuated from their homes.”
With more storms anticipated to affect the region through next week, Heyer said her agency is adequately staffed to handle any emergencies the county might encounter.
“The current storm activity has produced unseasonable and above-normal amounts of precipitation in short periods of time in our region that our roads and water systems are finding difficult to process,” Heyer told supervisors.
“Winds have taken down trees and power lines throughout the county,” she added. “OES, as well as our city, district and county partners, continue to respond to calls for service, address emergency conditions and repair infrastructure.”
Lodi Unified School District closed five sites on Monday due to power outages, including Middle College High School on the San Joaquin Delta College campus. Turner Academy was still without power as of 6 a.m. Tuesday and remained closed, Lodi Unified spokeswoman Chelsea Vongehr said.
The City of Lodi closed the Vinewood Dog Park and basin Tuesday until Public Works Department crews can clear all unstable trees in the redwood grove.
The sidewalk area around the outside of the park on Virginia Avenue was also closed to pedestrian traffic.
The city also said crews worked through Monday night to address downed trees and power poles.
As of Monday, the city placed all personnel under “on call” status, expanding maintenance and inspection activities, and proactively replacing aging and failing infrastructure.
Staff also increased vegetation management work; brought in additional outside line crews as needed, and brought in additional outside crane services to assist with tree removal and infrastructure rebuild efforts.
The National Weather Service’s Sacramento office said the Galt and Lodi areas are both under flood advisories, and a thunderstorms may be possible throughout the week.
Winds could be as high as 24 miles an hour through Wednesday, with temperatures in the mid-40s to high 50s through the week.
Showers are expected through Sunday, the agency said.