Gov. Jay Inslee late yesterday proclaimed a state of emergency for 28 counties recovering from the impacts of recent severe winter weather.
The proclamation covers Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Clallam, Clark, Columbia, Cowlitz, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Klickitat, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pend Oreille, Pierce, Skamania, Snohomish, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, Whatcom and Whitman counties.
“The colder, wetter and stormier weather this winter has heavily impacted many communities throughout the state,” Inslee said. “The impacts have been significant, from snow removal and damage to public facilities to transportation interruptions and the opening of shelters to assist those whose power was out or their homes damaged. Staff from appropriate state agencies are working with local officials to quantify the impacts and damages so we can determine whether to request federal assistance.”
In his proclamation, Inslee notes that multiple winter storms from January 30 through February 22 produced high winds, heavy snowfall, ice accumulation and significant rainfall. The storms caused significant power outages, major damage to roads and public utilities, delays and cancellations within the state ferry system and at major airports, and damage to homes and businesses.
Additionally, the storms created the need for some communities to provide shelter for impacted individuals and families, and threatened the health and safety of fragile and at-risk individuals such as those with special medical needs.
The proclamation will help the Washington State Department of Transportation make emergency repairs to the state’s roadways and request federal financial assistance for them. Damage to roads is estimated at more than $10 million.
The proclamation also allows the governor to potentially request other federal assistance, pending the outcome of ongoing damage assessments in the impacted counties.
Inslee has also asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a 30-day extension to April 23 to complete damage assessments. The request was made in writing to FEMA Associate Administrator Lisa Lopez-Suarez. States have 30 days after the end of an incident (February 22) to conduct damage assessments and to request disaster assistance. The most recent winter weather has slowed this effort.
Staff at the State Emergency Operations Center at the Washington Military Department’s Camp Murray have been monitoring local efforts and coordinating resources to help local officials respond. In addition, staff from the department’s Emergency Management Division are working with local officials on damage assessments.