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Washington February 13, 2017 – Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris (both D-Calif.) today called on President Trump to approve a major disaster declaration for California and provide disaster assistance in response to recent severe storms.

            “The series of powerful winter storms caused significant and widespread damage across California, and hundreds of Californians were forced to evacuate their homes,” Senators Feinstein and Harris wrote. “The situation remains dire, especially in the areas downriver from Oroville Lake, where damage to the main spillway and concerns over the structural integrity of the emergency spillway have led to the evacuation of 188,000 residents. Severe weather is likely to continue, and while federal, state, and local authorities are doing all they can to prepare, it is essential that the federal government be prepared to step in should assistance be requested.”

Full text of the letter follows:

February 13, 2017

President Donald Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump:

We write to urge you to approve a major disaster declaration in response to the severe damage in California and approve the state’s request for disaster assistance. The series of powerful winter storms caused significant and widespread damage across California, and hundreds of Californians were forced to evacuate their homes.  The situation remains dire, especially in the areas downriver from Oroville Lake, where damage to the main spillway and concerns over the structural integrity of the emergency spillway have led to the evacuation of 188,000 residents. Severe weather is likely to continue, and while federal, state, and local authorities are doing all they can to prepare, it is essential that the federal government be prepared to step in should assistance be requested.

From January 3 to January 12, 2017, an atmospheric river system swept through California, unleashing heavy rain, snow, and intense wind. The storms brought relentless precipitation and high winds, causing flash flooding, debris and mud flows, significant erosion that impacted transportation and homes, widespread power outages, and damage to critical infrastructure. The state took appropriate action, executing the State Emergency Plan and declaring a State of Emergency to assist local communities. The California Department of Emergency Services dispatched joint damage assessment teams consisting of federal, state, and local officials to survey the damage beginning January 26.

Due to the severe damage caused by the series of storms, as well as the compounded impact of other major disasters that have impacted California in the past year, the state is requesting $162.3 million in public assistance pursuant to Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Federal disaster assistance will provide essential support to help communities recover from the events in early January, and will allow state and local authorities to repair public infrastructure and public facilities. We respectfully ask that you declare a major disaster for the state of California and approve the state’s request for disaster assistance.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator

Kamala Harris

United States Senator