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Officials tour storm-ravaged San Gabriel area

December 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Power has been restored for almost everyone affected by last week's severe Southern California windstorm, except for about 20 homes in the San Gabriel Valley.

It's been more than a week since fierce winds tore through the Los Angeles Basin, causing devastation and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of customers.

State officials toured the communities suffering the most damage Friday. They are trying to determine whether the area should be declared a disaster zone.

More than a week after the winds blew through, trees are still down and homes still far from repaired.

California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) officials surveyed the hard-hit areas throughout the San Gabriel Valley Friday.

But Cal EMA Acting Secretary Mike Dayton is letting local communities know that there may not be much, if any, state funding available.

"We've got about $160 million in outstanding obligations and that is due to all previously declared disasters in California, so up and down the state," said Dayton. "Certainly we are looking towards federal assistance."

That means hope for disaster aid may now rest with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A FEMA team is slated to tour damaged areas of the San Gabriel Valley on Monday.

"These local residents have every right to expect us to look for as many funding sources as possible," said 49th District Assemblyman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park).

Much of the wind-damaged area falls within Eng's district. He says he'll accompany the FEMA team and press for federal emergency funds.

Chrisoula Papavasiliou's house was crushed by a falling pine tree during the windstorm. Her house was red-tagged, meaning it is unfit for habitation.

A 17-year-resident of Arcadia, Papavasiliou says her requests for service have been ignored by local and state government.

"I love Arcadia, but now, one time we need help and nobody came here to help us," said Papavasiliou.

"We need to do a better job," said Eng. "And we also know that disaster is not far away if you live in California."

FEMA officials could get a close look at the next potential problem: They'll be touring Monday, the day a storm is expected to hit. The fear is that all the debris from the last storm will clog storm drains and cause flooding.

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