Author: Nicole

Gov. Gavin Newsom signs state of emergency bill to help state recover from natural disasters

Gov. Gavin Newsom signs state of emergency bill to help state recover from natural disasters

Newsom signs state of emergency to support California communities recovering from wildfires, flooding and catastrophic storms

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed a state of emergency bill allowing authorities to better respond to natural-disaster events.

The bill, a measure of his administration, was prompted by wildfires in California last year that killed dozens of and destroyed more than 150,000 structures, and was passed by the Legislature in response to that disaster.

Newsom said at a press conference Wednesday that he is concerned about the effect of climate change on wildfire hazards, and added that he has taken a special interest in wildfires due to his father. Newsom said his father called him on a Sunday afternoon and asked him to call in the National Guard to help fight the fires.

“My father was right,” Newsom said, and his state of emergency does more than respond to weather-related emergencies. It also allows authorities to better respond to any type of disaster, including those caused by earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters, Newsom said.

“If you were to take a look at the state of emergency bill, you see that it would give the governor or the state of California the power to deploy resources, as he has, to protect lives and property,” State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, said at the press conference. “The resources could be used in a wide variety of natural disasters.”

The new disaster declaration allows California to tap into its disaster recovery fund.

“Because of this declaration, any federal agencies or any state agencies can submit a request for financial assistance without the approval of the federal or state government having to go through the cumbersome process the feds have had to go through to get federal assistance,” Wolk said.

While California and its state officials are still figuring out how to use the money to help the state’s largest-ever natural disaster, California has already received more than $700 million from federal assistance and other sources in the aftermath of the wildfires.

Newsom said the state has received $100 million in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, $120 million of which came from the federal government.

There is a long way to go to rebuild California and its communities from the damage caused by the wildfires, and that is why this bill is so valuable, Newsom said.

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