President Biden on Thursday was set to tour the damage suffered in California following massive storms that ripped across 41 of the state’s 58 counties.
Biden planned to visit storm-damaged Capitola Pier in Santa Cruz County, where he would meet with business owners and residents. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and other state and local officials planned to accompany the President during his tour.
Biden also planned to meet with first responders at Seacliff State Park where he was set to deliver remarks on storm recovery efforts.
Three weeks of winter storms have dumped rain and snow on California starting in late December, cutting power to thousands, swamping roads, toppling trees, unleashing debris flows and triggering landslides.
In fact, between December 26 and January 17, the entire state of California averaged 11.47 inches of rain and snow, according to the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center. There were some reports of up to 15 feet of snow falling over the three-week period in the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada.
The most recent storm struck just this Monday. While it was relatively weak compared to earlier storms, the saturated ground raised risks of flooding and mudslides even so.
Ten days ago, Biden issued an emergency declaration for California, freeing up additional federal resources and allowing federal agencies to get involved immediately in helping state and local agencies coordinate with storm relief.
The White House said on Wednesday that already some 500 FEMA workers were on the ground in California. Hours ahead of Thursday’s visit, Biden raised the level of federal storm assistance available even higher.