Residents and businesses that have sustained any damage from the Dec. 22 storm should report the extent of those damages for at least two reasons.
First, there may be assistance available to them locally, said Ann Quilter, the disaster relief coordinator for the Laguna Relief and Resource Center. Second and perhaps more important, the total dollar amount of damage sustained could play a role in having a disaster declared, qualifying the city for relief funds at state and federal levels, she said.
Though such a declaration could provide financial relief to businesses and residents, the first relief funds are generally directed towards helping to pay for the city’s relief efforts, City Manager John Pietig said. There are no guarantees how much money might come in and what it might be tagged for. After the 2005 Bluebird landslide, a disaster fund was established, which now stands at $5.8 million. Even so, those funds are specifically earmarked for restoration of public utilities and infrastructure, and reimbursing expenses incurred in mobilizing disaster response. So fundraising efforts to assist residents and businesses are still very relevant.
While city officials have made appeals at the county, state and federal levels to have the Dec. 22 event declared a disaster deserving of federal assistance, no declaration has yet been made and no funds are yet forthcoming. But that can change. “We need information,” said Quilter, urging affected residents to submit damage statements so that updated figures can be supplied to relevant authorities.
Residents should include structural, contents and vehicle losses when estimating the value of damages and report that figure, using a flood information form found on the city’s website, to Donna Valenti, of the Laguna Relief and Resource Center, which is compiling the information. The form can be faxed to 949-494-6161. Valenti can be reached at 949-212-9155. Ann Quilter will also take reports at 949-494-4180 or 949-433-9801.