Biden, FEMA administrator. to visit flood damage in california

President Joe Biden and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell will head to Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties in California on Thursday to tour flood damage after weeks of rain that have devastated the state since before. of the new year.


what you need to know

  • President Joe Biden and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell will visit Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties in California on Thursday to tour flood damage after weeks of rain.
  • The visit comes just days after President Biden approved a disaster declaration to provide federal assistance to the state, including support for debris removal and emergency protective measures.
  • The White House says the president will meet with first responders, state and local officials, and communities affected by the devastation during the trip, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Rep. Jimmy Panetta , D. -California
  • Panetta has been a leading voice in recent weeks urging the federal government to provide relief for those suffering from these winter storms.

The visit comes just days after President Biden approved a disaster declaration to provide federal assistance to the state, including support for debris removal and emergency protective measures. It also makes residents of affected counties who suffered damage or loss from the storms eligible to apply for federal disaster assistance.

FEMA, according to the Biden administration, already has more than 500 people on the ground to help with relief efforts.

“We’ve been in constant communication with state officials as we’ve watched this start to take shape,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell told Spectrum News in an interview last week, calling it “a very dynamic situation” on the ground.

The White House says the president will meet with first responders, state and local officials, and communities affected by the devastation during the trip. He will be joined by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., among others, as he tours the damage.

Panetta has been a leading voice over the past several weeks urging the federal government to provide relief for those suffering from these winter storms.

“We basically communicated with all levels of government, county level, city level, state level, and let them know the coordination that needs to be done to get the power of the bag from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Administration here. on the ground,” Panetta explained in an interview with Spectrum News on Wednesday. “Fortunately, thanks to our experience in handling these extreme weather events, we understood what we had to do.”

Panetta, whose district includes Monterey, San Benito and parts of Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties, said it’s important that Biden and other federal officials witness the damage firsthand.

“Obviously, images are powerful,” Panetta said. “But nothing beats getting down on the ground and feeling and experiencing the magnitude of this devastation, whether it’s there in Capitola, whether it’s on the 9 Freeway and seeing the massive mudslide. And also hearing from people on the ground about the effects of this devastation, the effects of having to endure this type of extreme weather event.”

Panetta said this is similar to other storms that have wreaked havoc on communities in his district in the past, from 1987 to 1996, and even more recent flooding.

“We had another extreme weather event in 2017, the same houses that I visited the other day that I visited in 2017,” Panetta recalled. “The flooding Carmel River was literally in their living rooms.”

The rain and the onslaught of problems it has brought have only been exacerbated by the drought California has experienced in recent years. Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., told Spectrum News last week that California “doesn’t have a water problem, we have a lot of water, we just don’t store it when we have it.

“And now it is an example of when we are getting it,” Garcia said. “And we won’t be able to keep it in storage long enough to avoid a drought.”

It’s something Panetta said he agreed with.

“We need to make sure we have more sources of water. I see it firsthand here on the Central Coast, where we basically don’t import our water, we put in a grant, stick a straw in the ground and suck it up or store it in our reservoirs.” Paneta said. “And let me tell you, before these last few rains, those reservoirs didn’t look good.”

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who represents parts of Santa Clara, called the flooding “devastating.”

“My heart breaks for the families of those who have been killed or are separated from their loved ones,” Khanna said in a statement to Spectrum News ahead of the president’s visit.

“In my district, fortunately, we haven’t experienced the most severe damage, but when I was there recently, the roads were covered in water and the driving conditions were unsafe,” he said. “I am deeply grateful for our first responders. who have worked tirelessly to protect Californians. I appreciate the quick response from President Biden and Governor Newsom.”

While Biden’s visit on Thursday will provide hope at a very dark time for these communities, Panetta is already looking ahead.

“We need to start thinking about thinking ahead, not just how to deal with these storms, but what we do to prevent damage with later storms,” Panetta said. “I’m glad the federal government is playing its part in not just helping people repair and recover. But to really think about long-term solutions to deal with these extreme weather events.”

Source