August 2, 2007

Needles gets emergency aid for flooding recovery

San Bernardino Sun
Gina Tenorio, Staff Writer

NEEDLES - As the city continues to repair and recover from a July 25 monsoonal storm, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services announced it will provide financial assistance.

"Even the little guy gets noticed," City Council member Rebecca Valentine said.

The announcement of the approved state funds was made Wednesday.

Henry Renteria, Governor's Office of Emergency Services director, has approved the grant and the city now is entitled to up to 75 percent of the cost of repairs, according to a San Bernardino County news release.

An exact amount was not immediately disclosed.

In all, the city suffered an estimated total of $356,500 in damages, City Council member Robert M. Smith said.

Needles is accustomed to annual monsoon-like conditions that creep in from Arizona and Nevada, bringing heavy winds and rainfall.

But the July 25 storm hit the small border city, which lists its population density as 198 per square mile, with mud, debris flows and flooding over a period of about four hours.

"We lost 22 utility poles," Valentine said. "To larger communities that may not sound like a lot, but to us, that's a lot."

A stretch of Highway 95 between the 40 Freeway and West Park Road was submerged for several hours, according to San Bernardino County sheriff's officials.

Drivers were trapped in a number of vehicles stuck in mud and high water, sheriff's officials said.
The city was left without power and utilities for hours.

This is the second time the city has applied for emergency funds, Valentine said.

She said she did not recall when the last time was, but said the city had received funds some years before.

"We're just a small community. Our budget is $20 million or something like that," she said. "When we take that big a hit like this, it's a lot of money."