Valley News -

By Kim Harris
Managing Editor 

LE declares local emergency


Last updated 1/31/2019 at 5:57pm

Lake Elsinore City Council approved a resolution proclaiming the existence of a local emergency due to the after effects of the Holy Fire being felt by the city and its residents.

“The city has changed with the Holy Fire and now the mudslides, the rain is going to continue,” Ricky Santiago, Lake Elsinore Public Works superintendent and emergency services coordinator, said. “The practice is typically when a disaster happens, we would proclaim a local emergency and then do a resolution proclaiming a disaster.”

Santiago said the county is seeking funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and California Disaster Assistance act to recover the costs associated with the blaze which was started Aug. 6, 2018, by alleged arsonist Forrest Gordon Clark and charred 23,136 acres.

“What they are trying to do is recuperate the funds,” Santiago said adding that for the county to be able to put in a claim for funds, the city first had to declare a local emergency.

Santiago said that as the rains continue, so would the mudslides.

“With that being brought to the council, we will already be ready and able to submit those costs to the county,” he said.

The declaration covers anything that has to do with the Holy Fire and the Holy Flood, all the way down to the lake, where the debris is ending up.

“We don’t know yet what is happening to our fishery, so we are encompassing everything that is happening with the rain and the mud and debris flow.”

Mayor Pro Tem Brian Tisdale pointed out that declaring the local emergency was the only way the city and county could get reimbursement.

To date the city has spent about $400,000 due to the fire and subsequent flooding, Santiago said. The number including county expenses is much higher, at $4.5 million.

“The important part is when the hills come down, the cost could go up extensively,” Tisdale said. “Every time we have an event, you are putting up K-rails. That costs money. We have to clean out drainages after each event, it is just ongoing.”

Tisdale said it was important for the public to know the reason the city was declaring the emergency, was to protect the city’s interests and get reimbursement down the road.

The motion passed unanimously.

The city will continually renew the declaration every two weeks until the debris flows stop, and the vegetation affected by the fire grows back.

Kim Harris can be reached by email at [email protected]


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