Federal disaster aid proposal could help more California cities
When a fierce wind storm ripped through Pasadena, knocking out power and toppling hundreds of trees late last year, the city applied for federal disaster aid to help cover $14.5 million in clean-up costs.
“The fiscal impact to us was catastrophic,” said Lisa Derderian, emergency management coordinator for Pasadena. Much of the city cost was in overtime for public works employees who had to clean up 50,000 tons of fallen limbs and tree debris and work to restore power.
Fourteen nearby cities spent another $20 million after the storm. But they received nothing because their damages fell short of the threshold set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at about $50 million.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) introduced legislation Wednesday that would modify FEMA’s qualifying formulas to make it easier for small- and medium-sized cities like Pasadena to receive disaster aid.
FEMA evaluates damages on a per capita basis, so the threshold is higher for communities in heavily populated states and counties. Schiff’s proposal would direct FEMA to consider other factors in those places. His staff said about 40 counties nationwide would be affected by the changes, including seven in California.
Photo: Palm fronds brought down by heavy winds last year are gathered on the sidewalk along East Mountain Street in Pasadena. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times