ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - It’s the first sign of help from the feds after New Mexico's devastating September storms.
The president has declared the Santa Clara Pueblo a disaster area, clearing the way for Federal Emergency Management Agency dollars to start pouring in. Now, the question is “What about the rest of the state?”
The governor and top state officials say don't worry, help for the rest of the state is on the way.
“We certainly want to make sure the paperwork in this process for reimbursement is done as fast as possible,” Gov. Susana Martinez said.
It happened fast for the Santa Clara Pueblo, one of the areas hit hardest by September floodwaters.
Tribal roads washed away, and culverts were torn open. But the pueblo certainly wasn't the only area of New Mexico hit hard.
State officials say there's a reason why Santa Clara was the first to get the disaster declaration.
“Since Hurricane Sandy happened, FEMA made an exception where local tribal governments could apply for assistance on their own,” Estevan Lujan with New Mexico’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said.
For the rest of the state, getting help from FEMA is still a work in progress.
They have a team of 100 people back on the ground in Santa Fe preparing to fan out across the state and see the damage for themselves. A lot of the work involves filling out paperwork and assessing damage, figuring out how much aid is needed.
“It’s not about the dollars that’s going to keep us from moving forward,” Martinez said. “It’s just once it’s done, we need to be reimbursed.”
As New Mexico cities and towns wait on reimbursement, Martinez said repairs are already in full swing. The state has already given out about $750,000 to help communities rebuild.
“We started to repair the public infrastructure, the roads and bridges,” Martinez said. “We didn't skip a beat in the state of New Mexico.”
But the total cost of repair may approach $100 million. New Mexico's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management says it takes about s months for the federal money to get into the hands of those who need it.
If approved, communities applying for federal aid will receive about 75 percent of actual damage costs.
The federal government shutdown delayed things a bit, but FEMA says they don't expect any more delays as they cover the state.
A note for homeowners affected by the floods: Homeland Security says the state didn't have enough houses damaged to qualify for federal aid. That means home or flood insurance will have to cover the costs.
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