Officials tallying storm damage expected to top $1 billion

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California Construction News staff writer

Officials are adding up the damage to the state’s infrastructure and assess the impacts of recent winter storms that caused widespread flooding.

Over the last two weeks, the state has sent flood specialists, engineers and technical experts to more than 50 locations in 17 counties related to levee or bank erosion, levee breaks or sloughing and sinkholes.

Hundreds of mudslides and landslides across the state, impacted transportation infrastructure and floodwaters overwhelmed municipal wastewater treatment plants causing sewage to discharge directly into the San Francisco Bay, some roads and the Pacific, according to news reports.

Extensive damage has been reported in at least 40 of the state’s 58 counties, and total repairs could top $1 billion, according to authorities.

The estimated cost is likely to change as teams of local, state and federal officials continue damage assessments over the next several weeks, according to Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and President Joe Biden toured communities impacted by recent storms and meet with first responders leading recovery efforts on the weekend.

“Over the past weeks, Californians have endured some of the deadliest and most destructive storms in recent memory, but our strength, resilience, and instinct to help in times of crisis has never faltered,” Newsom said. “I am grateful for the President’s commitment to helping California recover.”

Biden’s visit began with an aerial tour on Marine One, surveying damage across Santa Clara County and Santa Cruz County. Following the tour, they visited businesses in Capitola that were impacted by the recent winter storms and met with first responders at Seacliff State Beach.

Biden on Saturday approved an Expedited Major Disaster Declaration, ordering federal aid to be provided to recovery efforts in areas of California that were affected by the storms. All 58 counties are able to access hazard mitigation assistance, meaning the federal aid can be given to state and local governments and specific nonprofits to reduce risk to life and property.

Federal assistance will reimburse local and state governments for 75% of the cost to repair infrastructure and other necessities.

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