Cantwell Applauds Assistance for Washingtonians in Wake of Winter Storms

Cantwell, delegation members urged swift approval of a federal disaster declaration for 11 Washington counties

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded President Obama’s issuance today of a federal disaster declaration for 11 Washington state counties struggling to help overcome severe winter weather: Clallam, Grays Harbor, King, Klickitat, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, Skamania, Snohomish, Thurston, and Wahkiakum. Winter storms between January 14 and January 23 produced extensive freezing rain, snowfall and wind that created severe avalanches, flooding, landslides, and mudslides.

On February 28, Cantwell and members of the Washington delegation called for President Obama’s swift approval of the disaster declaration for Washington state. Also signing onto the letter were 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). Governor Chris Gregoire formally asked for the federal disaster designation on February 21.

“These severe winter storms caused extensive damage to Washingtonians’ property and community infrastructure,” Cantwell said. “We urged quick approval of this federal disaster designation so Washingtonians have the support they need to recover and rebuild. This support will go a long way to helping state and local officials continue to provide a strong disaster response and help communities get back on their feet.”

The National Weather Service reported that these storms dropped up to 19 inches of snow on parts of the Western Washington lowlands. 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 Washingtonians 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.