STORMS hit as PH waits for aid

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Port Hueneme–The City Council was updated on local flood and storm emergencies declared on December 21, as the region faced another storm on Sunday, February 5.

Some aid is available through the State of California, but Federal Aid is still missing.

City Manager James Vega said it’s sad that before referring to a storm, they have to identify which date since there have been so many.

“This focuses on December 21, where we saw a lot of local impacts,” he said. “We want to let the Council and the community know that we are still working on that, and as I run into people, one of the immediate questions is, are we forgetting about them? We aren’t, and we’re still working to try and help with the recovery and advocating for our community.”

He said four recent items warrant attention, including the City’s partnership with the Ventura County Community Foundation to launch a fundraiser to help flood victims.

“We launched that fundraiser about 10 days ago, and now we’re working to get some pretty significant donations through that fundraiser,” he said. “We’re now working with the Ventura County Community Foundation, who is helping to coordinate that fundraiser with The City of Oxnard and ourselves to work out the process and how we’re going to deal with distributing some of the assistance we are getting.”

He said they’re currently working on that, and there will be more information coming about how to sign up.

“There will be help from that fundraising coming up shortly,” Vega said. “That is our effort to try to start filling the gap that we’re still seeing from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) not declaring the December 21 storm a Federal emergency yet and not providing funding directly to residents, which, in reality, what’s needed, and we’re still continuing to advocate for. While we’re going through that process and waiting for all those decisions, we wanted to start working on things locally.”

He said the City continues to advocate with County, State, and Federal agencies for more assistance to help residents. “One result, from us advocating and also from the storm the following week that hit San Diego, is the State and Governor Newsom has declared a California State of Emergency that was retroactive and included our local storm,” he said. “That was a positive that opened up some more relief, like utilities, Southern California Edison, which has relief available to residents when it’s a state of emergency but would otherwise not be able to provide relief. It’s helping to get more programs and assistance out. The State still doesn’t have any direct (FEMA) funding for residents. It’s a step, but it hasn’t gotten us to the point where FEMA or the State will give funding to residents impacted.”

Vega said the feeling was that FEMA was going to decline giving assistance, but he’s hoping that, similar to what the governor did, because there are more storms and more people impacted, he’s hoping with the storms over the weekend that FEMA will declare a State of Emergency.

“That’s something we’re still pushing for, but in the meantime, the State has opened up additional resources,” he said.

This article was originally published by the Tri-County Sentry.

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