President Obama declared a major disaster in the State of California, after the recent winter storms wreaked havoc in the state, paving the way for federal emergency funds to be made available to local agencies.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to California to supplement tribal, state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe winter storms, flooding, and debris and mud flows during the period of Dec. 17, 2010, to Jan. 4, 2011.

Federal funding is available in the counties of Inyo, Kern, Kings, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Tulare.

Sandy Coachman has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.  Coachman said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

As a result, the state will cover 75 percent of the eligible costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges, utilities, buildings, schools, recreational areas and similar publicly owned property.

The state will also pay 75 percent of the eligible costs for removing debris from public areas and for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state and local governments.