Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Federal Disaster Assistance Agreement Signing
November 11, 2003

Thank you General Lowenberg. Good morning everyone.

A few weeks ago, torrential rains and record water levels in our rivers and streams inflicted severe damage in more than a dozen counties in our state.

Homes were lost. Businesses destroyed. Farms damaged.

I witnessed the destruction firsthand in a tour of Skagit County. But I also witnessed heroic displays of teamwork, unity and cooperation. Neighbors helping neighbors. Strangers helping strangers. Signs of hope amid despair.

Today, we offer more hope, and financial help, to the people of Skagit County and the other 14 counties severely impacted by last month’s floods.

We’re here today to sign the agreement to formally begin federal disaster assistance to the victims of the devastating floods and establish the conditions of federal assistance. These residents are in dire need of help.

I sent a letter to the president on Oct. 28, as soon as our initial disaster assessments were completed, asking for federal assistance to help these communities rebuild. I am pleased with the president’s quick response, directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to offer federal disaster aid to 15 counties in the state of Washington.

This agreement that we sign today will help speed the recovery of the thousands of flooding victims across the state. Soon, we will be opening Disaster Recovery Centers in several of the counties that were hit the hardest, including Skagit and Snohomish counties.

Our request sought two forms of federal disaster assistance. The first is for the people: individual households, businesses and farmers – offering grants and low-interest loans for temporary housing, home repairs and replacement of personal property as well as low-interest loans to businesses and farmers.

The second form of assistance we requested is for the Hazard and Mitigation Program.
This allows for a percentage of disaster assistance funds to promote mitigation projects in local jurisdictions. This is designed to help towns like Hamilton in the Skagit Valley - to ensure that the type of devastation the town suffered last month doesn’t happen there again.

We’re expecting to complete our survey of public infrastructure damage soon, and should have a recommendation for the required public assistance within the week.

Our state suffered greatly in these floods. We will rebuild. Today, we’re taking a big step in that direction. Offering help – and hope –to those who need it most.

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