San Joaquin County residents and businesses can apply for federal disaster relief following a series of damaging storms that hit California earlier this month and late last year.

“This is the news we have been waiting to receive,” Tiffany Heyer, director of the county’s Office of Emergency Services, said in a news release last week. “Individuals who have experienced storm damage caused by flooding, wind, and other storm related causes may now qualify for much needed Individual Assistance.”

The Central and Sacramento valleys saw record-breaking rain starting in December, with deadly storms continuing into the New Year that brought wide-spread flooding, power outages, downed trees and road closures. 

At least 22 deaths throughout the state have been attributed to the storms, claiming more lives than California’s previous two wildfire seasons combined, according to reporting from the Los Angeles Times.

Last week, SJ County was added to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s major disaster declaration for California, joining Sacramento, Merced and Santa Cruz counties, which were given the designation a few days earlier. County officials say this paved the way for residents and local businesses to apply for storm-damage financial aid and other services.

“There’s a whole range of things that people can qualify for now with this individual assistance,” Heyer told Stocktonia. 

For example, Heyer says assistance is available for those who’ve lost their homes entirely, were off work or even saw their refrigerated food spoil due to power outages. Loans are also available through the U.S. Small Business Administration for both private individuals and businesses to replace damaged property, she said. (Visit the SBA website here)

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What kind of aid an applicant gets will be tailored to their needs, Heyer said. The county is also seeking reimbursement from the state and federal government for emergency response costs accrued during the storms.

“We know that we have as a county, with all of our cities, special districts, all of that, we’re around 19 million in damages,” Heyer said.

Residents and business owners can apply for “Individual Assistance” at DisasterAssistance.gov, through the FEMA mobile app or by calling 1-800-621-3362, the county says. 

Before applying for aid applicants should take photos of the damage to homes and belongings, make a list of damaged or lost items and, If individuals have insurance, make a claim with their insurance company.

More information on the process can be found here

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