BOISE -- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has denied a second request from Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for millions of dollars in federal funding to help repair collapsed buildings and other destruction in five counties hit hard by snowstorms this winter.
"After a thorough review of all the information contained in your initial request and appeal, we reaffirm our original findings that the impact from this event is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration," FEMA Acting Administrator Robert Fenton wrote in a Tuesday letter to the governor.
Otter had asked the agency to reconsider after Idaho's original bid for the federal money was denied in March He said in a Wednesday press release he was frustrated by FEMA's decision.
"The window is closed for this particular effort to get federal help addressing snow-related destruction and preventing additional damage statewide," he said. "But we have one Presidential Disaster Declaration approved and another pending, so we're exploring every opportunity to help our communities address their most serious recovery needs."
Severe snowstorms wreaked havoc around the state, causing an estimated $30 million in structural damage to roads and bridges. In many areas, the weight of snow piled on roofs caused homes, stores, and other buildings to buckle and collapse.
Otter had asked FEMA to approve federal assistance to help the state fix destruction in Ada, Canyon, Custer, Payette and Washington counties from snowstorms between Dec. 22, 2016, and Jan. 19, 2017.
"Our disappointment that FEMA has denied our request does not impact the State's efforts. We will continue to work closely with the counties affected," Brad Richy, deputy chief of the Idaho Office of Emergency Management, said in a press release. "This appeal was an important continuation of our efforts to work on behalf of the counties, to ensure that every available resource has been pursued fully."
The disaster declaration signed by President Donald Trump opens up money in response to flooding between Feb. 5 and March 3 in Cassia, Franklin, Gooding, Jefferson, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, Twin Falls and Washington counties. A second request to the president for funding for Bonner, Boundary, Clearwater, Idaho, Kootenai, Latah, Shoshone and Valley counties remains pending.
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