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Governor signs disaster assistance order
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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took the next step in assisting drought decimated areas of the Central Valley by activating the California Disaster Assistance Act.

On June 19, Schwarzenegger issued Executive Order S-11-09 to activate the act and also waive the one-week waiting for unemployment insurance.
This executive order will provide local governments and non-profit agencies with temporary assistance to supply food and other aid to those who are impacted by the drought. This money would go, for example, towards food banks and other organizations that provide temporary assistance to those impacted directly by drought conditions.

In addition, the governor set a July 15 deadline for the California Emergency Management Agency, Department of Social Services, Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and California Department of Food and Agriculture to provide adequate nutrition for California residents who can not afford food as a result of the drought conditions.

“California’s Central Valley is our nation’s agricultural engine and unemployment here is devastating the economy and hurting the people of California. These are dire circumstances — no water means no work — and no work means people cannot feed their families,” Schwarzenegger said.

The Governor declared a state of emergency for nine Central Valley counties, including Stanislaus County, on June 12, 2008. He extended that state of emergency proclamation to include all of the state of California in February because “drought conditions continued and the impacts were well beyond the Central Valley.”

Also on June 19, the Governor requested a federal disaster declaration for Fresno County from President Barack Obama. As of press time on Thursday, the Governor’s press office said that the request has not been answered. If the request is answered, it could possibly provide federal aid to Fresno County, which is responsible for 15 percent of the state agricultural production.

“I am specifically requesting Unemployment Assistance, Food Commodities, Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training, Legal Services, and any other Stafford Act programs that may be deemed appropriate for those who have lost employment and income as a result of the drought,” Schwarzenegger wrote in his letter to President Obama on June 19.

In addition to securing aid for drought impacted areas, Governor Schwarzenegger suspended the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance for those who are unemployed as a specific result of the drought conditions. This suspension applies to those who apply for unemployment between June 19 and Nov. 1, who are otherwise eligible for California unemployment benefits.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.