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Bipartisan delegation of CA leaders send Biden a letter urging approval of major disaster declaration for Tropical Storm Hilary

Damage from Tropical Storm Hilary on Dillon Road and Little Morongo in Desert Hot Springs (8/20/23)
Damage from Tropical Storm Hilary on Dillon Road and Little Morongo in Desert Hot Springs (8/20/23)

A bipartisan delegation of California leaders sent President Joe Biden a letter urging him to approve a major disaster declaration over Tropical Storm Hilary.

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom sent a request to Biden for a major disaster declaration, requesting public assistance for Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Siskiyou, and Ventura.

The delegation, which includes local Congressmen Ken Calvert and Raul Ruiz and U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Diane Feinstein, is urging Biden to approve that request.

"... the severity and intensity of this storm require additional federal coordinational and resources to effectively support the ongoing recovery efforts," reads the letter.

In addition to Senators Feinstein and Padilla and Representatives Calvert and Ruiz, the letter is also signed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.-20), Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.-11), and all 52 members representing the state in the House of Representatives: Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-18), Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.-33), Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.-44), Ami Bera (D-Calif.-06), Julia Brownley (D-Calif.-26), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.-24), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.-29), Judy Chu (D-Calif.- 28), J. Luis Correa (D-Calif.-46), Jim Costa (D-Calif.-21), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.-10), John Duarte (R-Calif.-13), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.-16), John Garamendi (D-Calif.-08), Mike Garcia (R-Calif.-27), Robert Garcia (D-Calif.-42), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.-34), Josh Harder (D-Calif.-09), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.-02), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.-48), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.-51), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.-37), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.-17), Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.-03), Young Kim (R-Calif.-40), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.-01), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.-12), Mike Levin (D-Calif.-49), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.-36), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.-07), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.-05), Kevin Mullin (D-Calif.-15), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.-31), Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.-23), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.-19), Scott Peters (D-Calif.-50), Katie Porter (D-Calif.-47), Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.-25), Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.-38), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.-30), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.-32), Michelle Steel (R-Calif.-45), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.-14), Mark Takano (D-Calif.-39), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.-04), Norma Torres (D-Calif.-35), David Valadao (R-Calif.-22), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.-52), and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.-43).

“Residents, small businesses, and farmers throughout the Coachella Valley and beyond continue to recover from Tropical Storm Hilary and are in need of federal disaster assistance,” said Rep. Calvert. “My colleagues and I are hopeful that the Biden Administration will act quickly on California’s disaster declaration request so that federal resources are made available to those in need. I appreciate the support of all of my colleagues throughout California in this effort.”

According to Newsom, Riverside County reported damages in the estimated amount of $128,835,835. The damage was widespread throughout the Coachella Valley.

Several neighborhoods across the region suffered major flooding. The Panorama Park neighborhood in Cathedral City was buried in mud and residents continue to clean up their homes weeks later. Residents voiced their frustations with the response to the aftermath of the storm Wednesday during a city council meeting.

The tropical storm also damaged major roadways and bridges, including N Indian Canyon at the Whitewater Wash, which will be shut down for months.

County officials reported that rainfall rates approached a 50-year storm for the Coachella Valley floor areas and in excess to a 1,000 year event in some mountain canyon areas.

On Aug. 25, county had compiled a list of storm damage reported. At the time, the county estimated more than $126 million in damages, however, that has gone up in three weeks since the report was released. Officials had noted that the numbers were subject to change as additional damages are discovered.

Damage categories include (not a complete listing)*:

Crews made repairs on damaged Pierson Blvd bridge
  • $16,628,417 – Individual Assistance (Private Property)
  • $6,151,905 – Debris Removal
  • $3,417,077 – Emergency Protective Measures

Residents and businesses can report damages via an online form at or by calling 2-1-1.

Greater Palm Springs Realtors has a fund available to help homeowners and renters affected by the local declared emergency disasters in the wake of Tropical Storm Hilary. Anyone in Palm Springs, Cathedral City or Desert Hot Springs whose housing was impacted by the 2023 storm may be eligible for financial assistance up to $2,500.

To apply for disaster relief assistance, please visit

County officials said property owners who incurred damage from Tropical Storm Hilary of $10,000 or more can file a claim for disaster property tax relief with Riverside County. Property owners must file the form with the Riverside County Assessor's office within a year from the date of the damaged or destroyed property in order to qualify for the tax relief.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage on the aftermath of Tropical Storm Hilary.

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Jesus Reyes


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