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Federal relief for nonprofits, public agencies in county

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune/ A home on Lodi Avenue was severely damaged by a downed tree from the New Year's storm. Private property and businesses are not eligible for federal assistance.
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El Dorado County has received a federal declaration for disaster relief, officials say, but it’s only for public groups and nonprofits.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency money must be earmarked for the New Year’s storm damage sustained by public agencies and nonprofit organizations only, the county Office of Emergency Services reported. Assistance for private property owners such as businesses and individuals do not qualify for now. The federal government notified the county Friday night.

County Supervisor Norma Santiago said every little bit helps, but she was disappointed that private businesses and homeowners of District 5 weren’t included in the disaster relief designation.



“I would love to be able to help our residents. This was important because they’d get some compensation,” Santiago said Monday.

Meyers residents located on Apache Avenue took a particularly hard hit from the storm, she said.




Shannon Shehadi of Shannon’s Day Spa has moved on from her business damage.

“I only want federal relief if they find it’s the city’s fault. If it’s only caused by natural acts of God, then that’s the way business is,” she said.

The declaration will supplement the undetermined amount of money coming from the state, which declared the county a disaster area. Its money is solely earmarked for government entities. The federal funds would cover 75 percent of the assessed damage, county OES Director Marty Hackett said.

The county estimated the severe storms over the busy holiday weekend hammered the area with about $9 million in damage evenly split between public agencies and private parties. On the West Slope, Mosquito Road alone was determined to have received $2 million in damage from the wet, hard-driving storms.

The storms knocked out power to more than 9,500 customers, flooded many low-lying areas, and toppled trees and power poles throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The city qualifies for the county aid package. Stakeholders with both governments will meet Feb. 15 to review the next course of action. From there, the city and county may establish disaster relief centers, Hackett added.

“We still need people to report their storm damage,” he said.

The county has asked those who believe they qualify to report their damage at http://www.edso.org.

Hackett said FEMA could expand the designation to include individuals and businesses, but a case will need to be made. Property owners may contact FEMA by calling (800) 621-3362 or via the Internet at http://www.fema.gov.

Howard Gantman, spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said he will look into how common the conditional designation is.

El Dorado County last received federal and gubernatorial disaster relief designations for the 1992 Cleveland fire and after the severe springtime flooding in 1986.

This year’s federal disaster declaration also included Douglas, Carson City, Lyon, Storey and Washoe counties on the Nevada side. Gov. Kenny Guinn said Northern Nevada’s original request for assistance was estimated at $17 million.

Beyond those in Nevada, residents and businesses in 10 California counties will receive federal aid. El Dorado is among 29 counties eligible for the limited funds.

-Nevada Appeal staff writer Geoff Dornan contributed to this report.


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