RENO - President Bush declared part of northern Nevada a national disaster area yesterday, making federal relief available to hundreds of people whose homes were swamped by a weekend levee rupture.
Bush signed the declaration as building inspectors went door to door in Fernley to assess the millions of dollars in damage caused by a break in a century-old irrigation canal early Saturday.
The declaration makes available federal assistance, including grants for temporary housing and home repairs, the White House said. It also can be used to make low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and entails other programs to help individuals and business owners recover.
Cleanup efforts were ongoing yesterday even as flood waters continued to drain from Fernley, a fast-growing community 30 miles east of Reno. City Manager Gary A. Bacock said water in the hardest-hit areas was down to curb high - a big improvement but little consolation to residents who awoke early Saturday to find water gushing into their homes.
The canal is owned by the US Bureau of Reclamation but managed by the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District.