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Press Release of Senator Cantwell

WA Delegation Calls for Swift Assistance to Washingtonians in the Wake of Winter Storms

In letter to President Obama, members urge approval of a federal disaster declaration for 11 Washington counties

Tuesday, February 28,2012


WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter sent today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and members of the Washington delegation called for President Obama to approve a request from Washington state to issue a federal disaster declaration for 11 counties struggling to overcome severe winter weather.

Governor Chris Gregoire formally asked for the designation on February 21. The move would provide additional aid to Clallam, Grays Harbor, King, Klickitat, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, Skamania, Snohomish, Thurston, and Wahkiakum counties. Winter storms between January 14 and January 23 produced extensive freezing rain, snowfall and wind that created severe avalanches, flooding, landslides, and mudslides.

The letter was also signed by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), U.S. Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA-01), U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA-02), U.S. Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA-06), U.S. Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA-07), and U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-WA-09).

“As a result of these weather events, 500,000 Washington state residents experienced power outages, road closures, and property damages, which has significantly impacted our state’s economy,” the members wrote in the letter sent today. “Our state government, counties and local communities are continuing to provide a strong disaster response through coordination of municipalities on all levels. However, we now urge you to act swiftly and approve this request for a federal disaster declaration.”

The National Weather Service has reported that these storms dropped up to 19 inches of snow on parts of the Western Washington lowlands. The Washington Cascades is also recorded as having received five to eight inches of snow. In an unprecedented move, the National Weather Service issued an ice storm warning for most of the Puget Sound and Southwestern Washington.

Cantwell has worked hard to protect Washington from severe weather events. Recently she announced that the U.S. Department of agriculture had approved emergency assistance for farmers suffering from losses due to extreme weather. She was also instrumental in making the state’s first coastal Doppler radar operational in time for the 2011 winter storm season. The new coastal Doppler radar is helping to close large gaps in data of storms approaching Washington’s coast and provides forecasters with a better idea of what wind speeds and rainfall will look like.

Full text of the letter sent today follows.

February 28, 2012

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We write to urge you to approve as quickly as possible the federal disaster declaration requested by Governor Christine Gregoire on February 21, 2012 for 11 counties in Washington State.

Between January 14, 2012, and January 23, 2012, the State of Washington was the recipient of unseasonably cold weather that moved from Western Canada into the Pacific Northwest, and remained in the region for several days.  Washington experienced significant freezing rain, snowfall, and wind during this weather event, which subsequently triggered severe avalanches, flooding, landslides, and mudslides.  The National Weather Service has reported that parts of Western Washington lowlands received up to 19 inches of snow, and the Washington Cascades received five to eight feet of snow.  The National Weather Service also issued an ice storm warning for much of the Puget Sound and southwestern Washington region, unprecedented for such a large area. 

As a result of these weather events, 500,000 Washington State residents experienced power outages, road closures, and property damage, which has significantly impacted our state’s economy.  Our state government, counties and local communities are continuing to provide a strong disaster response through coordination of municipalities on all levels.  However, we now urge you to act swiftly and approve this request for a federal disaster declaration for Clallam, Grays Harbor, King, Klickitat, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, Skamania, Snohomish, Thurston, and Wahkiakum Counties.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Senator Maria Cantwell

Senator Patty Murray

Congressman Jay Inslee

Congressman Norm Dicks

Congressman Jim McDermott

Congressman Adam Smith

Congressman Rick Larsen

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