Salt Lake City – The Utah Department of Emergency Management verified nearly $ 9 million in damage directly related to the September 8 storm that swept northern Utah, including more than $ 7 million spent on debris removal alone.
These numbers come from a joint preliminary damage assessment, or PDA, that the agency conducted with local officials, emergency managers, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The PDA is used to assess total damages and determine whether it meets the limits of a presidential disaster declaration, said Jana Wilkinson, director of mitigation and recovery in the Department of Emergency Management.
“It is important to note that the total damage verified by the personal digital assistant (PDA) is not the total damage or the cost of recovery for the disaster,” Wilkinson said in an email to KSL.com, only the amount that could have been reviewed and verified within 30 – A day after the disaster “to justify the request for a disaster declaration.” It will take some time before we know the full actual amount of damage and the costs of recovery.
According to Wilkinson, the state’s threshold for public compensation assistance is currently $ 4,284,022; But the state was able to verify $ 8,932,990 in damages “well above the threshold.”
This amount does not take into account damages covered by insurance or damage to private property, businesses, or homes, as it does not count towards the minimum.
“It was initially estimated that there could be up to $ 20 million in statewide compensation,” Wilkinson said.
It is important to note that the total damage verified by the PDA is not the total damage or recovery cost of the disaster, but rather the amount that could have been reviewed and verified within the 30-day period after the disaster. – Jana Wilkinson, Division Director, Mitigation and Recovery for Emergency Management
The $ 9 million figure was reached when local officials and emergency managers submitted “photos, bills, contracts, and damage estimates to show the damage.”
Wilkinson said there was “just over” $ 7 million in debris removal and the rest was split between “emergency protection measures and damage to roads, buildings and the utility system.”
Salt Lake, Davis, and Morgan Weber counties have met the damage limit that will be included in the disaster declaration application. According to the Emergency Management Department, Governor Gary Herbert requested a presidential disaster declaration on October 7; However, as of Friday, this request has not been approved.
The FEMA website says Utah has declared federal disasters this year for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Magna earthquake, Ether Hollow Fire, Veyo West Fire, Knolls Fire and Canal Fire.
It is estimated that the Magna 5.7 earthquake in March caused $ 70 million in damage to public infrastructure.
A spokesperson for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told KSL.com that the request to declare the storm disaster “is still in the identification stage”.
“This means that it is currently under study and there is no current timetable for taking a decision,” he said.
“Sometimes, it may take some time for a presidential announcement to come out, especially if it’s a smaller event,” Wilkinson said. “The earthquake earlier this year took six weeks from the request to the announcement. As the current election season continues, and other events across the country, only the biggest life-threatening events have been announced in recent weeks / months.”
Once the request reaches the president’s office, she said, the Department of Emergency Management and the Regional Office of the Federal Emergency Management “have no insight into whether or not the disaster request will be approved.”
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