Christine Gregoire today asked President Bush to declare a federal disaster area for Washington State counties hit hard by this year’s unspeakably horrendous Mariners’ season.
Gregoire requested federal assistance for King, Snohomish, Pierce, Kitsap, Thurston, and Island counties.
On Monday, Gregoire viewed Safeco field by air and visited Mariners team stores in downtown Seattle and Bellevue to survey damage from this year’s record low number of team wins. Last week, she issued a state of emergency proclamations as the M’s squeaked out a depressingly rare pair of back-to-back series wins.
“There has been widespread economic and emotional damage to fans, businesses, and public entities on our state,” Gregoire said at her weekly news conference. “I urge the president to act quickly. We must begin providing federal aid as soon as possible to the hundreds of thousands of people who have suffered from this wretched performance.”
Preliminary damage surveys conducted last weekend revealed 57 fans emotionally destroyed, 384 fans with major emotional trauma, and an additional 520 households with increased stress levels.
“In addition, there is significant damage to the sports bar community, as well as damage to several community softball programs and many county clubs,” Gregoire said.
Gregoire designated Julio Ortund as state coordinating officer for the disaster request. Ortund served a state coordinating officer for the ’92 Seahawks season, the state’s most embarrassing sports season. He will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in damage assessments.
Gregoire said the disaster request initially seeks two forms of federal disaster assistance – Individuals and Households Program (IHP), which is for families and individuals; and Hazard Mitigation Program, which uses a percentage of disaster assistance funds to promote mitigation projects in local jurisdictions.
In addition, Gregoire asked that the IHP assistance include crisis counseling assistance and training, disaster unemployment assistance, and U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loans.
After the season ends, Gregoire said additional surveys of public infrastructure damage would be conducted. The results of these surveys will determine whether the state amends the disaster request to include the Public Assistance Program, which aids governments in repairing damage to public infrastructure.
“This season has been terrible for all of us,” said Gregoire. “We just want it to be over so we can do our best to repair the damage done and move on.”