Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is asking the federal government to declare much of the Mid-Columbia a disaster area and help with costs from damage left by winter storms.
If President Trump gives approval, the winter storms would be the fifth major disaster declared in the state in less than two years.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s public assistance program might help some jurisdictions pay for emergency response costs, debris removal and permanent repairs to damaged public infrastructure, according to information from Inslee’s office.
Benton, Franklin, Adams, Grant, Walla Walla and Columbia counties are among 15 counties that would be included in the major disaster declaration.
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“Cleaning up and repairing damages will take months to years, and our local communities will benefit greatly from federal assistance,” Inslee said.
Much of the damage identified in a joint state and federal damage assessment in late March was to roads.
The freeze-thaw cycle caused significant damage to foundations, pavement and drainage systems to local and state roads, according to the governor’s office. Flooding also damaged roads.
Among the winter impacts in the Mid-Columbia were load restrictions on county roads in Adams, Benton and Franklin counties to prevent further damage, and temporary repairs to allow farm equipment to reach fields to prepare for spring planting.
Downtown Connell flooded because of heavy snow melt runoff that breached a levee, according to the governor’s office.
Damage to irrigation infrastructure also caused a later start to water delivery than usual by some irrigation districts.
Inslee also requested that the 15 counties be eligible for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. Local jurisdictions would be required to share costs for projects to prevent damage from disasters.