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Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States - California Federal Disaster Assistance

Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-1) today sent a letter urging President Obama to provide California with federal disaster assistance following last month's devastating tsunami, which destroyed the harbor in Crescent City, significantly damaged the harbor in Fort Bragg, and caused over $48 million in estimated damages statewide. Earlier today, Governor Jerry Brown officially requested a federal disaster declaration to provide emergency assistance to the state. The funding would be used to repair and rebuild harbors and other damaged infrastructure, and to safeguard coastal communities from future losses.

"Last month's tsunami caused significant damage to infrastructure up and down California's coast," said Rep. Thompson. "Without assistance, I am extremely concerned that recovery efforts in affected communities, including those I represent, will languish. That's why my colleagues and I are strongly urging the president to support Governor Brown's request for a federal disaster declaration to help get local communities back on their feet."

Signers of Congressman Thompson's letter include Reps. Sam Farr (CA-17), Anna Eshoo (CA-14), Lois Capps (CA-23), Laura Richardson (CA-37), George Miller (CA-7), Joe Baca (CA-43), Zoe Lofgren (CA-16), Jackie Speier (CA-12), John Garamendi (CA-10), Doris Matsui (CA-5), Jerry McNerney (CA-11), Susan Davis (CA-53), Michael Honda (CA-15), Pete Stark (CA-13), Barbara Lee (CA-9), Karen Bass (CA-33), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34), Adam Schiff (CA-29), Lynn Woolsey (CA-6), Grace Napolitano (CA-38), Judy Chu (CA-32), and Bob Filner (CA-51). The full text of the letter is available below:

"Dear Mr. President,

"We write to you today in strong support of the State of California's request for a disaster declaration in order to provide much-needed assistance to our state for damages resulting from the recent tsunami.

"On March 11, 2011, California was struck by a tsunami generated by a massive earthquake off the coast of Japan. The tsunami's heavy surge and wave activity overwhelmed California's coastal areas, causing significant destruction. The harbors in both Santa Cruz and Crescent City have been destroyed, with additional damages in the counties of San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Mendocino, and Humboldt. Statewide Preliminary Damage Assessment findings estimate economic damages to be $48,147,938. Over 150 vessels have been damaged, and over 30 vessels have sunk. Additionally, oil sheens have been reported, and the sunken vessels continue to pose the threat of substantial hazardous releases, as well as navigational dangers, that would exacerbate the economic devastation.

"California state authorities are working with local governments and the United States Coast Guard and have taken a proactive and timely response. Efforts to secure loose vessels, remove debris and sunken vessels, assess damages, and monitor coastal areas for oil sheens are fully underway. However, additional federal assistance is necessary to repair and rebuild harbors and other damaged infrastructure, as well as to safeguard our communities from future losses.

"On March 11, 2011, the Governor declared a State of Emergency for Del Norte, Humboldt, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz counties, and this was followed by a State of Emergency declaration for Mendocino and San Luis Obispo counties on March 16, 2011. Many of us have had the opportunity to view the damage in our districts first-hand, and it is clear that a federal disaster declaration is vital to helping our state recover from the tsunami damage.

"Therefore, we strongly support the State of California's request for federal disaster assistance. We appreciate your consideration of this request, and we stand ready to assist you in expediting support and resources to the impacted communities throughout California."

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