During the Valentine’s Day storm, Riverside County announced a state of emergency which means all of the money that’s being used to make repairs in cities across the county, could be reimbursed in the future.
Agencies have been assessing the repairs this week to determine if they will cover them, and by how much.
“Right now, what we’re doing is trying to estimate the work, complete the repairs and get the roads back to the community and motoring public,” Terri Kasinga, a representative of Caltrans, said.
Caltrans is working alongside federal agencies to make the assessments for state highways including Highway 111, Highway 74 and Highway 243.
“Initially, the funding is coming from the state and we work with the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) to get reimbursement on that funding for the repair,” Kasinga said.
Federal agencies and Caltrans checked out the damage first-hand on Friday, she said.
“As we go along, we keep finding additional damages,” Kasinga said. “Then, things continue to keep flipping out since other rains we’ve had since Valentine’s Day.”
The damage repairs on Highway 111 costed $3.5 million. The combined projected total for repairs on Highway 74 and Highway 243 is $8 million, Kasinga said.
Coachella Valley city roads are facing a similar situation to the state highways but they get funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.
Chris Parman, the communications manager for Cathedral City, said, “the Riverside County office of emergency services declared a disaster for not only Cathedral City but Palm Springs and other cities within the valley.”
Parman said the county sent their estimate of the cost of the flooding to the governor. Then, the governor approved it for the county and sent it to FEMA for a final federal approval. That approval is pending.
In a press release, Riverside County said the total cost of the floods top out at around $50 million.
Projected repair costs:
-Cathedral City: $2.1 million
-Palm Springs: $1.9 million
If these cities are not reimbursed by FEMA, the repair costs will likely be taken out of their general fund account which are funded by taxpayers, Parman said.
“It’s generally funds that are allocated to police, fire, all of those other expenses,” Parman said.
Kasinga said if the state highways don’t receive funding, they won’t be able to better the roads in order to prevent future damage. Funding decisions will be made in the next few weeks.
According to Parman, Cathedral Canyon will open part of the road by Monday or Tuesday to let cars through. Starting this summer, a new bridge will be built over the wash. The project will cost $22 million and will be funded by outside agencies.