Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both D-CA) today urged President Obama to declare Imperial County a federal disaster area – a designation that will make the county eligible for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Imperial County was hit by a devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake earlier this month that damaged homes, businesses, schools, a hospital, water infrastructure, roads and more. As a result of the disaster, costs for the state of California are expected to exceed $90 million.

A federal disaster designation could make the county eligible for assistance such as unemployment benefits for those who are out of work due to the earthquake and federal grants for seismic retrofitting of buildings, bridges and other infrastructure.

Last week, Senators Boxer and Feinstein also wrote Small Business Administrator Karen Mills and urged her to declare Imperial County a disaster area – a designation that will make residents and businesses eligible for low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Disaster loans from the SBA can help residents repair their homes and assist businesses that need to rebuild and restock.

The full text of Senator Boxer and Senator Feinstein’s to President Obama is below:

April 19, 2010

The Honorable Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC    20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write in strong support of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s request that you declare Imperial County, California, a major federal disaster area, which will provide much-needed assistance to our state. We also strongly support the Governor’s request for statewide Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Unemployment Assistance for Imperial County.
On April 4th, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake rocked Imperial County, California, wreaking havoc on the communities in the county, and causing the destruction of homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals. The earthquake damaged roads and highways, critical water storage and wastewater facilities, disrupted telephone communications, and broke water mains. As a result of the disaster, costs for the state are expected to exceed $90 million.

California has already been working with local governments, California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA), U.S. Small Business Administration (U.S. SBA), the Imperial County Sheriff, Calexico Police Department, El Centro Police Department, U.S. Border Patrol, and other federal agencies to assess the extensive damage from this earthquake and to begin the long-term clean-up and reconstruction efforts. With state resources stretched thin, additional federal assistance is essential to repairing, rebuilding, and safeguarding our communities from any possible future loss of life.

On April 5th, 2010, Imperial County declared a local emergency followed by the Governor declaring a State of Emergency for the county. The severe damages in the region make clear that a federal disaster declaration is vital to helping our state recover from this earthquake.

In the wake of this unprecedented disaster, we stand ready to assist you in expediting resources and support to these impacted communities in California, and appreciate your consideration of this request.


Barbara Boxer                                                             Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator                                                 United States Senator