ARLINGTON — Gov. Jay Inslee today expressed appreciation for President Obama’s decision to declare the Oso-area mudslide a major disaster, clearing the way for federal assistance ranging from money to pay for temporary housing, home repairs, the replacement of household items and unemployment benefits.
In a brief meeting with the media after landing in Arlington, Inslee said, “Having said we’re very pleased about this federal declaration, it is important for people to realize that this does not, unfortunately, allow people to be whole. The federal designation is helpful, but it is not going to replace everything that these families have lost.”
The death toll from the March 22 mudslide has reached 30, with another 15 declared missing and believed lost in the slide.
“This is helpful,” Inslee said of the disaster declaration, “but we’re still going to have a lot of holes in the fabric of this community that we all are going to need to pull together on to solve and we’ll be very active in that.”
The declaration also means low-cost loans of up to $200,000 from the Small Business Administration will be available for primary residences, and $40,000 for lost personal property. Small businesses can qualify for up to $2 million in loans.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also will provide counseling, help with income taxes and legal advice.
Those needing help can register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).