PHOENIX - Federal dollars to help repair January's storm damage may be on the way. Gov. Jan Brewer submitted a letter Tuesday to President Barack Obama requesting a Major Disaster Declaration for nine Arizona counties and six tribal nations. Mohave County is one of the nine counties listed in the letter.
"My request for a Major Disaster Declaration in support of our counties and tribal nations is critically important to storm recovery for many Arizona families," Brewer said.
The president will approve or deny Arizona's Major Disaster Declaration request based on summary estimates of damages. State damage assessment teams are still out in the field.
Brewer states in her letter that the total statewide damage from the storm is expected to exceed $2.9 million. Without a federal declaration, the state would have to cover approximately $12 million in damages this fiscal year, which would put it well over its $2.9 million disaster budget.
Mohave County declared an emergency on Jan. 22 after storms washed out roads along the Big Sandy River and caused approximately $1.5 million in damage county-wide.
A major disaster declaration would put into motion long-term federal recovery programs designed to help disaster survivors, businesses and public entities to recover losses not covered by insurance.
Brewer is requesting federal assistance in the form of individual assistance for homeowners, renters and business owners; and public assistance for public infrastructure damage and mitigation assistance programs.
Once a formal emergency declaration is issued to Mohave County, a second more-detailed study of the damages will be completed, and the county will be eligible for aid from FEMA, said Mohave County Emergency Management Director Byron Steward.
How long it will take to get the federal designation is unknown, Steward said. It depends on how many states and counties have applied for federal aid before Arizona. It could be anywhere from two weeks to two months or longer, he said.
The county will have to make and pay for the repairs upfront, but FEMA could reimburse the county up to 75 percent of the eligible costs, Steward said. The county might also get aid from the state. However, with the current budget crunch, Steward wasn't sure how much.