Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has appealed the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to deny the state’s request for a federal disaster declaration in the wake of the Sept. 9 PG&E gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno.
The declaration would make federal funds available to the state, the city of San Bruno and individual victims to help pay for the multi-agency response to the explosion and fire, which destroyed 37 homes, killed eight people, injured more than 50 others and caused extensive damage to city infrastructure.
The governor had requested federal assistance on Sept. 15.
In the letter submitted to President Obama through FEMA Region IX Regional Administrator Nancy Ward on Wednesday, the governor states that the magnitude of the multi-agency response to the explosion and fire, and ongoing efforts to recover from it, are “beyond the capabilities of the state of California and its affected local governments.”
The letter further states that California’s $19 billion budget deficit makes federal assistance crucial in covering the cost of the state’s response to the emergency, estimated to be more than $15 million.
“Considering this deficit, $15 million represents a considerable exacerbation of the projected shortfalls,” the governor said.
“I strongly urge you to consider the information presented in this appeal and approve a major declaration for the severe conditions caused by the explosion and fires in San Bruno.”
FEMA has agreed to reimburse California for up to 75 percent of the costs of fighting the fire but no other costs.
Chris Cooney, Bay City News