The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Caltrans two separate grants to help pay for damages caused by natural disasters that swept through the San Gabriel Valley and foothill communities.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, announced that the first of two grants will award $1,278,152 to help pay for repairs to roads damaged in the 2011 windstorm. The second grant will award Caltrans $1,905,326 to repair roads damaged during the 2009 Station Fire.
Still, Schiff said the funding will come up short for the amount of assistance needed.
"The Department of Transportation has awarded funds to Caltrans to help the state pay for some of the damage done to our roads and highways during our fires and windstorm,” said Schiff in a written statement. “And while this help is critical, Southern California will not receive anywhere near the level of federal assistance needed, because the formula FEMA uses makes it extremely difficult for communities in large population counties and states to reach the threshold needed to qualify for federal aid. I introduced legislation in the last Congress to try to fix this problem, and will be doing so once again in the days ahead."
The 2011 windstorm knocked out power to more than 400,000 homes and businesses in the San Gabriel Valley and caused tens of millions of dollars in damages.
In August 2009, the Station Fire torched 150,000 acres and destroyed almost 90 homes. Two firefighters were killed while fighting the blaze.
Since then, Schiff has called for reforms and funding to better respond to natural disasters, including pressing the Forest Service to end its policy against night flights and asking the Department of Transportation for more funds for community rebuilding.
“We must hold the federal government’s feet to the fire, and make sure that they follow through on their promise to do everything possible to make sure another fire like this does not happen ever again, like instituting nighttime helicopter flights and changing crucial procedures,” Schiff said of the Station Fire.