Major disaster declaration unlocks new funding for storm-impacted cities and residents

Jan 18, 2023

Cal OES released a fact sheet to help cities navigate the emergency disaster proclamation and funding process. Local emergencies must be proclaimed within 10 days of the incident if a city intends to request state/federal funding.

The White House issued a major disaster declaration over the holiday weekend. The new declaration unlocks more federal funding and assistance programs for California cities and residents, including funding for emergency and permanent work. Major disaster declarations are issued when the damage caused by a natural event is beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments to respond.

The declaration currently directs funding to individuals and local governments in the counties of Merced, Monterey, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. Additional counties may be included after federal, state, and local officials can safely assess the scope of damages.

According to the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), local governments should continue notifying Cal OES about any unmet needs. Local governments should also identify, by date, all damage and costs if they intend to pursue reimbursement via state or federal funding.

If a local government intends to request state or federal funding for the event, a local emergency must be proclaimed within 10 days of the incident. Local governments should consult with their legal counsel on when to proclaim or not proclaim a local emergency or a public health emergency.  

If a local jurisdiction proclaims a local emergency and requests state or federal funding, it should submit an Initial Damage Estimate to Cal OES within three business days. Cal OES will then coordinate a validation call and may schedule site visits to assess any damage.

For rain events, local governments can include prepositioning and/or emergency protective measures —such as sandbagging — that occurred one or two days prior to the rain event in the Initial Damage Estimate. Additional information about the proclamation process is available online.

The new declaration is one of the many new resources announced for impacted residents and businesses throughout the state. Taxpayers in most counties can file a deduction for a disaster loss either when filing an original or amended tax year 2022 tax return. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also provides automatic filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area.

Small business owners affected by flooding, power outages, and other storm-related hardships may request an additional three months to file their tax returns from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

Residents and businesses in the counties of Merced, Monterey, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz have access to additional resources, such as temporary housing and home repairs or lost-cost loans to cover uninsured property loss.

Additional information about disaster declarations is available on the CalOES’ emergency disaster fact sheet or the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website. For questions, please contact the Cal OES Disaster Analysis Unit.