Declaration opens door for relief

Double Spring Flat was full of slushy water on Saturday.

Double Spring Flat was full of slushy water on Saturday.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

With emergencies being declared across Western Nevada due to last weekend’s flooding, resources are pouring into Douglas and surrounding counties.

Declaring an emergency starts the process that allows the state to spend money in support of local and tribal governments.

“It tells the federal government that we are not in normal operations, signaling that we may need additional assistance,” Nevada Emergency Manager Dave Fogerson said on Tuesday. “It has worked well for us in this regard in that FEMA, US Health and Human Services, and the US Army Corps of Engineers have sent representatives to our Nevada Operations Center to support our needs.”

Fogerson said Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Health and Human Services and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are represented at the Nevada Operations Center.

Thousands of feet of HESCO barriers and 100,000 sandbags have been supplied to the state through the Corps of Engineers.

“That enables us to supply local and tribal governments with essential flood-fighting supplies,” he said.

Fogerson said a declaration alerts residents of potentially dangerous situations.

“More importantly to me, it signals to the public that something is going on,” he said. “We all struggle to gain public awareness for emergencies. When we issue a declaration, it shows we are not business as usual.”

Fogerson said the declarations paid off in sandbagging and other preparedness efforts across the state.

“Eureka is probably the hardest hit with flooding: evacuations, sheltering, flood fighting, cattle isolation, etc.,” he said. “The declaration process is part of that public messaging that the state is leaning forward to assist while highlighting our public messaging of preparedness.”

Thanks to the declaration, emergency managers are able to assess damages.

“Floods are especially detrimental to our roadways,” he said. “If Nevada has more than $5 million in public infrastructure damage, we can request assistance from the U.S. government to provide partial reimbursable grant funding to local and tribal governments for repairs.”

Should the state hit the threshold, the federal government would pay 75 percent of costs.

“If we do meet this threshold and are granted the additional assistance, we also receive hazard mitigation funding,” he said. “This enables us to not just repair the infrastructure but add additional dollars to reduce future reoccurrence of the event.”

Getting relief for private property is more difficult.

“To receive what is known as individual assistance, we must suffer fairly significant damage to homes and businesses,” he said.

That’s not something that Fogerson thinks has ever happened.

“It’s a two-edged sword that we don’t experience that level of damage from our incidents but also don’t receive that aid for our residents,” he said. “We are working hard with the Small Business Administration and the US Department of Agriculture for low interest rate loans and other programs to support private property and business, including ranching and farming, who suffered losses in the flood.”

Fogerson said the goal is to have local governments take the lead in planning, preparing, responding, and recovering from incidents.


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