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SLO County supervisors declare state of emergency after storms slam region

Winds and rain hit San Luis Obispo County on Sunday, January, 22, 2017, knocking down trees and power lines.
Winds and rain hit San Luis Obispo County on Sunday, January, 22, 2017, knocking down trees and power lines. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

After weeks of storms created “conditions of extreme peril,” the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday declared a state of emergency.

Strong January storms have caused damage across the county, including road closures, floods, mudslides and power outages.

The board’s decision was made partially because local agencies are unable to respond to all storm-related damage themselves, according to a news release from the county Office of Emergency Services. By declaring the state of emergency, the county can streamline the approval process for receiving assistance from the state.

The county’s proclamation follows the state of emergency declared Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown, which included San Luis Obispo and 49 other counties — all but eight of California’s counties.

Heavy rains and winds caused trees to fall across Atascadero, including in Atascadero Lake Park, where there was some damage. A swollen Atascadero Creek filled low-lying areas and rushed through downtown on Sunday, January 22, 2017.

Damage estimates across California are in the “tens of millions of dollars,” according to the state’s declaration. Brown’s order directs the Department of Transportation to seek money from the Federal Highway Administration in order to repair highways and directs the state Office of Emergency Services to provide relief for local governments.

With both the local and state declarations, San Luis Obispo County can apply for disaster cost reimbursement — up to 75 percent — through the California Disaster Assistance Act — but assistance received through that program can only be used for damages related to “local government public agency infrastructure and related losses,” the release states.

Still, the county Office of Emergency Services asks residents to report their damage from the storm, so the information can be given to state and federal authorities to determine whether San Luis Obispo County qualifies for a federal disaster declaration that would provide aid to businesses and individual residents.

Residents can report damage to the county Office of Emergency Services by phone at 805-781-5020, through the “Contact Us” form at www.slocounty.ca.gov/oes or by mail to County OES, 1055 Monterey St., Room D430, San Luis Obispo, CA 93408.

Heavy rains on Thursday and Friday morning (January 19 and 20, 2017) pushed San Luis Obispo Creek over its banks and into roads, fields and even the playground along the Bob Jones Trail in Avila Beach.

The Sacramento Bee contributed to this story.

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