SLO County estimates storm damage at more than $100 million

January 24, 2023

Flooding off K Street in Santa Margarita, storm damage


San Luis Obispo County officials estimate repairs totaling more than $100 million are needed following the recent storms.

Currently, officials estimate the countywide cost of repairs at $106 million, of which $41 million is related to residential property damage. Thus far, 584 SLO County residents have requested financial assistance.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is providing disaster relief funds. Residents must file applications for federal relief aid by March 16.

FEMA provides funding for repairs, personal property loss, temporary lodging, medical and transportation. Though highly unusual, the maximum provided a resident is $40,000.

On Tuesday, SLO County, in partnership with FEMA and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), opened a disaster recovery center at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Memorial Building. The center will operate daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Residents who suffered storm-related damage can visit the center to receive information about federal assistance and disaster loans and to update their applications.

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It would be interesting to know how much of the $100 million was a product of the cost savings deferred maintenance. Some may say that negligence would cancel the eligibility for disaster relief money to avoid disaster relief dollars from becoming the new maintenance budget.

I would love to see a story done on how much damage was done because our local creeks and rivers were left overgrown with brush and other debris….

The City of San Luis Obispo learned that hard lesson in the 1969 and 1973 floods. They initiated a vegetation thinning and debris removal program after the ’73 storm when the Marsh Street bridge was transformed into a dam by natural & man-made debris (including a refrigerator) and flooded Higuera Street all the way down to Elks Lane and beyond. I don’t know if the program was continued. Apparently, it is a lesson that must be re-learned every couple of decades.