Thursday, February 10, 2011

Martinez okays $750K for recovery

After receiving disaster declarations from 13 local governments, Governor Susana Martinez signed an executive order on Wednesday night releasing up to $750,000 in state emergency funds for costs incurred during the statewide natural gas crisis.

“In order to facilitate the quickest possible recovery and reimbursement process for local governments, we have been responding to their requests and working with FEMA from day one to evaluate damages and follow necessary steps to make state and federal funds available," Governor Martinez said in a news release.

With the gas restored to most residents and businesses, the governor said her team is now focused on providing aid to local communities and preventing future outages.

Damage assessment teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began arriving in New Mexico yesterday to conduct a detailed accounting of the uninsured costs incurred by state and local entities including the extent of business losses, infrastructure damages, deployment of response resources, and impact on critical facilities.

Those teams efforts will aid work already being done by another FEMA representative, who has been in place at the State Emergency Operation Center in Santa Fe since Monday.

The Martinez Administration said it has been in contact with FEMA since the first day of the natural gas crisis, and the Governor anticipates that damages will rise to the level of a Presidential Disaster Declaration.

At that point FEMA will be authorized to reimburse state and local entities for costs associated with uninsured damages and response efforts during the state of emergency.

The governor’s office Thursday morning that 50+ National Guard troops remain in each of the communities of Taos and Espanola to continue their work with technicians to restore heat to homes where owners have been repeatedly found not to be home; crews are also helping with recovery efforts and safety checks throughout Taos and Espanola neighborhoods.

At least five other local governments are expected to file additional declarations.

Individuals may file a claim directly with the New Mexico Natural Gas Company online. Officials with the company said they have set up an expedited claim process.

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