Schiff, Chu urge Brown to apply for windstorm disaster assistance

Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and his colleague, Judy Chu, urged Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday to seek a federal disaster declaration for the area raked by the powerful windstorm that hit late last year.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has already rejected applications for assistance, saying the total damage caused by the overnight windstorm on Nov. 30 — estimated at $34 million — failed to meet the $50.3-million threshold.

The lawmakers are now urging Brown to seek a disaster declaration using a provision that takes “localized impacts” into consideration, thereby lowering the criteria.

In their letter to Brown, Schiff and Chu, a congresswoman from Monterey Park, said that the magnitude of the wind damage “is beyond the capability of local governments to handle on their own,” and strongly urged the governor to apply.

Seven San Gabriel Valley cities recently sent Brown a letter asking for state funding that would help defray the cost of windstorm damage sustained late last year.

The windstorm could now cost cities as much as $40 million, officials say.

In the letter sent on Friday — drafted by Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard and signed by the mayors of South Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge, San Marino, Arcadia, Sierra Madre and Temple City — city leaders lobbied Brown to authorize payments under the California Disaster Assistance Act.

“While still responding to the emergency and attempting to restore power, we were asked to provide a preliminary damage assessment when the full extent of the damage was not yet determined. Quite frankly, we underestimated the true impact in the immediate aftermath of the storm,” Bogaard wrote.

Cities had requested a time extension for damage estimates from the California Emergency Management Agency, but were denied, according to the coalition.

-- Jason Wells and Joe Piasecki, Times Community News

Twitter: @JoePiasecki

Photo: A tree crushed a home on Howard Street just west of Los Robles in Pasadena on Thursday, December 1, 2011. Winds caused damage throughout Pasadena. Credit: Raul Roa/Staff Photographer

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