California hopes for federal funding after winter storm damage

It could take weeks before a statewide estimate of damages is calculated after the recent series of storms.

Governor Jerry Brown issued two emergency proclamations on Monday, which opens the door for county governments to possibly receive federal funding for repairs.

The Bay Area has taken a beating by Mother Nature in recent weeks with widespread damage ranging from washed away roads, to flooded highways, fallen trees, mudslides, and hail.

Shawn Boyd with the California Office of Emergency Services said Gov. Brown’s emergency proclamations apply to 50 of the 58 counties in California. All nine Bay Area counties are included.

“That allows us to gather what we can gather, figure out what the damage estimates are, and then submit those to the federal government to see if we will be eligible for a presidential state of emergency,” Boyd said.

While the state is working on that figure, other agencies, like East Bay MUD, are using their own emergency funds for repairs. Its Board of Directors ratified a declaration of a district emergency on Tuesday afternoon. The agency said it spent roughly $500,000 to shore up an area where a landslide occurred near the Briones water aqueduct outside Orinda on Jan. 9., according to EBMUD Spokeswoman Andrea Pook.

“That soil began to give way,” she said. “We just wanted to make sure that it doesn't get any closer to that aqueduct and compromise it in any way. It was a pro-active response, a quick response, to make sure that aqueduct is secure.”

Despite all of the damage, there is no denying the water has helped the Bay Area recover from the drought.

“These rains have really been a Godsend; honestly, the problem has been getting it all at one time,” Boyd added. “We didn't want it in such a short period of time. We wanted it kind of spread out.”

Cal OES said it could take several weeks for inspectors to gather up the initial damage estimates. It’s possible the figure will likely run into the tens of millions of dollars.