El Paso County to request federal aid for repairs after storms

KDBC
Saturday, September 21, 2013 - 11:49pm

After just days of rainfall in the Borderland, El Pasoans were left with heavy flooding in the streets, damage to their homes, and massive mudslides in areas like Socorro that buried cars.

"We believe that a disaster has happened, we believe that we need federal assistance. We are doing everything we can to exhaust our resources but we need the help," said County Judge Veronica Escobar.

Before county officials can request federal emergency funds, Judge Escobar would have to first declare a disaster, and only if the county can prove that the storms caused at least $2.8 million worth of damage to public property.

"There's no doubt that what occurred in the Valley, the amount of water it is that we got, the damage that was sustained, was undeniable a disaster," said County Commissioner, Vince Perez.

Representatives from areas hardest hit like El Paso, Socorro, and San Eli have been asked to report damages to their communities.

County leaders will collect and assess the reports at a meeting on Monday to determine if they meet the required amount to collect federal aid.

If the county is denied, there are other options available to help those in need.

"Taking inventory of all the damages is important because it still might make us eligible for grants down the road," said Perez.

County officials want to try and help families who have lost personal property as well.

"When we talked with the Red Cross, the Red Cross was clear that they will do everything they can to assist the families for as long as they can, but after that, it's time for the community to step in," said Judge Escobar.

She said she will also ask the county for $80,000 to help displaced families with temporary housing during Monday's meeting, as well.

County officials are also enlisting the help of VOAD - or Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to fundraise money for families affected by the storm and to help with clean-up efforts.

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