Governor Gavin Newsom signed another storm recovery and emergency Executive Order on Monday, continuing to add state support as storms continue to batter California all over the state.
Since late December, record rain and snowfall has besieged the state, responsible for at least 19 deaths, destruction all over California, and entire communities to be evacuated. As a result, in addition to local responses, both the state and federal governments have continued to give support for weeks to help rescue and recovery efforts.
On the state level, Governor Newsom issued a state of emergency over the storms earlier this month, mobilizing California agencies, including the California National Guard and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES).
On the federal level, President Joe Biden has also released several declarations. The first, released on January 9th, was a Presidential Emergency Declaration prompted by a letter from Governor Newsom asking for assistance, which gave gave more federal resources for disaster relief and emergency services in preparation for additional damage and rescue needs with FEMA being the point agency to do so. This was upgraded over the weekend, with President Biden signing a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration, which ordered “more Federal aid to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe winter storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides”. Merced, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz counties were specifically named for some efforts, as they have been the hardest hit by the storms to date.
“The President’s action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Merced, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz,” the Presidential order said. “Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Federal funding also is available to State, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in the counties of Merced, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz. Lastly, Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.”
Newsom’s new executive order
The new presidential order, as well as a new atmospheric river drenching the state yet again over the weekend, prompted the Governor to issue another executive order on Monday. According to Gov. Newsom’s new order, work hour limitations for retired annuitants in state agencies has been suspended to add more people to help out with the after effects of the storm and in emergency and recovery operations. Residents impacted by the storms and floods will also have all fees waived for all copies of copies of birth, death, marriage, and dissolution of marriage certificates. Health care, child care, and education services will also see relaxation of requirements so that buildings can remain open and services can still be given during the storms. Merced County was also specifically named for some services, such as giving up to two free meals a day regardless of any current existing plan.
“Today’s executive order includes provisions that help ensure adequate staffing for the emergency response by waiving work hour limitations for retired annuitants; support impacted residents by waiving fees to replace records such as marriage and birth certificates; and provide flexibility to help health care facilities in impacted areas remain open and support schools in Merced County impacted by flooding,” the Governor’s office said in a statement.
“Basically it was a lot of basic things that should have happened already, but just needed that push from a higher position to make happen,” noted Rachael Patterson, an emergency services coordinator, to the Globe on Monday. “Some of these things respective agencies would have made possible, like the waiving of fees for birth certificate copies for people who lost them in floods. Others were things that needed the Governor to simply sign off on. But he did.”
“Right now, it’s still pretty bad, so allowing kids in hard hit areas to get an extra meal or expanding the number of people helping out, even if it is just filing and general clerk work, does help out. Again, not sure it had to all be under the banner of an executive order, but it is good to have nonetheless.”
More storm recovery executive orders are expected this week as storms are due to largely clear up outside of short expected storms expected to briefly drench the state again mid-week.
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