Saturday, January 07, 2006

Disaster - One Week Later

So much has happened during this past week, it is hard to know where to begin.

What may be on the minds of many residents and business owners is: "How do I apply for financial assistance?" As of today, the Federal government has not yet declared a state of emergency for California and Marin County. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance, which includes grants and loans, will be made available to flood victims if a Federal declaration is signed by the President. As it stands now, the State does not offer direct monetary assistance to disaster victims. The Town is not in a financial position to offer loans or other financial assistance to victims.

What is the Town doing?
We have been answering the many questions that people have had since the storm hit, and providing referrals to other agencies for help as necessary. Please see the Town's home page at for phone numbers of resources.

The Town's Public Works Department has been working ever since the flood hit to clean roadways of mud and debris, remove tree branches and other obstructions from creeks, distribute debris boxes, assess damage to public infrastructure, and perform emergency repairs to bridges and roadways. The Town's Planning and Building Department has been dealing with issues related to damage to private property, and assessing landslides and related safety concerns. Of course, during the storm itself and immediately following, the Town Police Department and Ross Valley Fire responded to a number of life-threatening emergencies related to the flood waters and landslides. And, Town Finance and Administration have been preparing for the State and Federal reimbursement processes that we are hoping will be made available to the Town as a result of damage to Town-owned public infrastructure.

Over the past week, staff compiled damage assessments in conjuction with the County Office of Emergency Services, and met with FEMA representatives who are currently performing an assessment/audit of the damage. As of yesterday, we were told that the Presidential declaration of a state of emergency could be made within a week. There are certain thresholds that need to be met in order to qualify for the declaration, and the the information I have been provided indicates that we are meeting the thresholds. If FEMA comes in, we have been told that they will conduct a massive outreach campaign in the community to let everyone know what services are available and how to apply for help.

Please see our website at for two events that are upcoming: a Thank You Reception for everyone who helped with the storm response, and a Volunteer Board meeting to discuss volunteer efforts for this disaster and future emergency preparedness response.

The Town staff has performed admirably throughout the disaster, and I feel fortunate to have such a dedicated group of people working to help this Town recover and become an even greater place to live and work.

Please check back as I would like to post here at least a few times per week if not more often.