FEMA offers disaster assistance to help Calif. counties pay winter storm costs

The federal government has made disaster assistance available to help Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial, Calaveras and Siskiyou counties pay for costs stemming from severe winter storms January and February.

The funding is available to state and local governments and some private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and repair or replacement of facilities damaged by storms from Jan. 17 to Feb. 6, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.

The statement was headlined "President Declares Major Disaster For California." Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger requested the disaster declaration in early February.

"This action by President Obama will get assistance where it's needed most," Schwarzenegger said Monday. "It will also help reduce a significant portion of the financial burden the storms have placed on communities throughout California."

The FEMA announcement specifies "public assistance" is available for emergency work in six California counties. The agency noted "individual assistance" is not part of the disaster declaration.

Under Obama's declaration, assistance for state and affected local governments can include payment of 75 percent of eligible costs for: