Waterfall fire neighborhoods declared disaster area

The federal government declared a major disaster in the state of Nevada and promised Carson City up to $2.6 million Friday to help recover from the effects of last month's Waterfall fire.

"We're glad to hear it," Mayor Ray Masayko said. "We were worried about the time on this. It was supposed to happen quicker. I just got the good news today."

The state requested the federal assistance in July, when Carson City declared a state of emergency following the fire.

The president's declaration Friday ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts only in the area damaged by the Waterfall fire. The request for federal funds for areas affected by the Andrew fire will be handled by Washoe County, Masayko said.

Now $2.6 million is available to the city as reimbursement for money the city has already begun spending out of the utility and general funds for watershed repair, pipeline repair and reseeding.

City Engineer Larry Werner said the city has spent approximately $100,000 on watershed recovery related to the Waterfall fire.

Masayko estimated state and local expenditures for Waterfall fire recovery work could exceed $5 million.

The federal government will pay for 75 percent of the costs of recovery, while 25 percent of the costs to local and state agencies will not be reimbursed.

Masayko said the city's immediate concern is stabilization of the watershed's damaged soil, while restoration work such as reseeding will take longer to implement.

"That can go on for years," Masayko said. "There are spots out there right now where the ash is 10 inches deep and the soil is diluted. Run-off of debris or flooding is a significant concern."

A report last month by the Burned Area Emergency Response Team outlined repairs necessary to restore the local watershed.

Repairs include road repair, installation of more than 3,500 log erosion barriers, removal of 113 hazardous trees in the urbane interface, protection of critical water pipelines that feed Virginia City and Carson City in Vicee Canyon and along Lakeview Road and reseeding of 5,264 acres.

Werner said the disaster funding allotted by the federal government is flexible and could increase if the need presents itself.

Contact Robyn Moormeister at rmoormeister@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1215.


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