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10/22/2007   GAAS:841:07   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   Print Version |

Gov. Schwarzenegger Requests President to Declare a State of Emergency for California Due to Southern California Wildfires

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today sent the following letter to President Bush requesting direct federal assistance, debris removal and emergency protective measures, including:  firefighting, evacuation operations, and sheltering of displaced people and animals for the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura due to the Southern California wildfires.   

October 22, 2007

 

Via       Nancy Ward

Regional Director

FEMA Region IX

1111 Broadway Street, Suite 1200

Oakland, California  95607

 

The President

The White House

Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. President,

Under the provisions of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5121 et seq. (the Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.35, I request that you expeditiously declare an emergency for the State of California as a result of wildfires and high winds commencing on or about October 21, 2007 and continuing, in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.

In response to the situation, I have taken appropriate action under State law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan on October 21, 2007 in accordance with the Stafford Act.   This includes declaring a state of emergency to exist in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.

I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments, and that supplementary federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster.  I am specifically requesting direct federal assistance, debris removal, and emergency protective measures, including:  firefighting, evacuation operations, and sheltering of displaced people and animals.

Southern California currently has over twenty major wildfires burning over 267,000 acres.  Most of the fires are less than 20 percent contained.  These wildfires have resulted in the loss of human life and serious injuries to emergency personnel and others. 

Over 650 homes have already been damaged or destroyed, and numerous businesses and public landmarks have been destroyed or damaged. 

In addition, tens of thousands of homes, businesses and public facilities are in immediate danger from the wildfires.

Over 250 thousand people have been evacuated from their homes.

The following information is furnished regarding efforts and resources of other federal agencies that have been or will be used in responding to this incident.  We have already enlisted significant resources from the United States Forest Service, Department of Defense, and the United States Coast Guard.

I certify that for this emergency, the state and local governments will assume all applicable nonfederal share of costs required by the Stafford Act. 

I request direct federal assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property.  All state and local emergency response resources have been fully utilized to support the firefighting, evacuations, and emergency sheltering operations.  I am specifically requesting public assistance category A and B, and direct federal assistance under the Stafford Act, for the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.

The State of California agrees that it will, with respect to direct federal assistance:

1.         Provide without cost to the United States all lands, easements, and rights-of-way necessary to accomplish the approved work.

2.         Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the requested work, and shall indemnify the Federal Government against any claims arising from such work.

3.         Provide reimbursement to FEMA for the nonfederal share of the cost of such work in accordance with the provisions of the FEMA-State Agreement.

4.         Assist the performing federal agency in all support and local jurisdictional matters.

Pursuant to the Stafford Act, the state agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the United States of America for any claims arising from the removal of debris or wreckage for this disaster.  The state agrees that debris removal from public and private property will not occur until the landowner signs an unconditional authorization for the removal of debris.  I have designated Henry Renteria as the state coordinating officer for this request.  He will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in damage assessments and may provide further information or justification on my behalf. 

Sincerely,

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger

 
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