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Storm damage pegged at $9 million

Susan Wood
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune/ Disaster relief funding is being sought for damage caused by storms last week.
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Public agencies, homeowners and businesses may have sustained $9 million in damage or measurable economic losses as a result of the New Year’s holiday storms, El Dorado County reported Tuesday.

But now there is a place to go for some relief. The state declared the county a disaster area from the weather event. It is collecting information from residents and businesses that have a case for economic relief. They’re asked to go to the county Web site at http://www.edso.org.

“It’s almost like we’re paying the price (of living in paradise),” Scott Shehadi said. The floor of his wife’s South Shore business, Shannon’s Day Spa, was under 3 inches of water on Dec. 31. Shannon Shehadi had Alpine Carpet replace the carpet for $2,300.

Adding to the cost, the tourist-oriented business was closed from Saturday through Tuesday during one of the busiest times of the year.

Jaymee Willison had a similar issue, when the floodwater clogged a drain at her two rental cabins on Herbert Avenue.

“(The renters) moved out pretty quickly,” she said.

The county wants to use the information received from businesses and residents to file for a federal declaration. If granted, the county will establish sites to assist Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives. The designation will free up low-interest loans for property owners.

Sheriff’s Lt. Marty Hackett of El Dorado County Office of Emergency Services told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday the county has estimated it received $4.5 million in damage to its public facilities and infrastructure from the storms. He also figured damage to businesses and property owners may have exceeded $4 million as well.

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

Chevy’s Fresh Mex restaurant manager Tina Rodriquez said she’ll approach her corporate office on corresponding with the county. The South Shore restaurant was forced to close over the holiday on New Year’s Eve because it also took in 3 inches of water on the floor. Insurance picked up the cost of the cleanup, but like Shannon’s, the eatery could be eligible for economic losses from having to close on a busy holiday weekend.

The effects spanned from one end of the South Shore to the other. The Chart House on Kingsbury Grade lost a reported 600 diners on its busiest night of the year. The Beacon Bar and Grill had no power for more than a day.

South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Duane Wallace said Tuesday the FEMA response from the 1997 New Year’s floods was disappointing in terms of handling the losses.

The county has also received a declaration for disaster relief from the federal and state governments following the 1992 Cleveland fire and the severe springtime flooding of 1986 – an El Niño year.

If granted, claims could be based on debris, water and mud carried through homes, trees falling on properties and even economic losses from prolonged power outages and diverted traffic from Interstate 80 sending more traffic through South Lake Tahoe on Highway 50.

Federal funding from claims would make up for any gaps in repairs that private insurance does not cover. Fromarc Insurance’s Tita Anderson of South Lake Tahoe said she’s seen a number of claims come through in the last few weeks. She assured policyholders that insurance companies don’t traditionally penalize filers for such a known, widespread event.

The state declaration only provides funding for government entities. El Dorado County plans to recover losses from the additional resources.

At a special meeting Tuesday, the South Lake Tahoe City Council also approved its own disaster relief proclamation to add support to the county’s case.

Reporting damage

Did you sustain storm damage or economic loss on Dec. 31? If yes, then provide details to http://www.edso.org or receive information at (530) 621-5866. Please list:

— Name, address and daytime contact phone number.

— Description of the damaged property, including: street address, what was damaged, cost to repair and lost sales due to i.e. extended power outage.

Source: El Dorado County Office of Emergency Services


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