Roughly two months after the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved an initial proclamation of a local emergency, the Board unanimously voted Tuesday, May 9, for an extension until at least June 27.
Recent landslides at the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens and one in Laguna Niguel prompted Fifth District Supervisor Katrina Foley to request a continuation of the state of emergency, first issued on March 14, for another 60 days and every 60 days thereafter until the proclamation is ended.
Foley said in a media release that the extension will help allocate funding to impacted cities, property owners and businesses.
“As we speak, the earth is moving from under us,” said Foley. “Additional weather-related events grow increasingly unpredictable.”
The county has estimated that coastal flooding, erosion and more events in Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and a separate March 15 landslide in San Clemente have cumulatively incurred $16.2 million in public property damages and $10.2 million for private properties.
Officials have yet to determine the cost of damages the landslides at Casa Romantica and in Laguna Niguel caused.
Michelle Anderson, director of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Emergency Management Division, took questions from Foley during Tuesday’s meeting.
Anderson said the county remains in negotiations with the governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency regarding the county’s emergency status.
She added that county officials wanted FEMA to add Orange County to its DR-4699-CA list, a disaster declaration of California entities impacted by the recent string of heavy winter storms that have caused flooding, landslides and mudslides.
According to Anderson, 22 counties are receiving public assistance and 11 are receiving individual assistance.
Public assistance refers to FEMA reimbursing local governments for their spending on emergency response actions and construction costs. Individual assistance involves homeowners and business owners getting help to recover financially from natural disasters.
Anderson said that continuing the emergency would allow Cal OES and FEMA to tour the impacted locations and speak with respective owners about the costs required to fix each issue.
Orange County would need to meet a threshold of $4.44 per capita in damage assessments to be eligible for FEMA assistance, which also considers factors such as damage to historical or cultural structures in determining how to allocate resources.
Additionally, although county proclamations cover all cities within its borders, Anderson recommended cities issue their own emergency declarations.
“It’s a way that they can document what their needs are on a formal basis,” she said.