Farmington — The Navajo Nation has been added to a federal disaster declaration because of flooding it sustained this past summer that breached earthen dams and damaged communities.
The declaration makes the tribe eligible to apply for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Public Assistance Grant Program.
The Public Assistance Grant Program provides assistance to state, tribal and local governments as well as certain types of private nonprofit organizations by reimbursing applicants for expenses incurred during emergency situations.
Under a cost-sharing formula, FEMA reimburses 75 percent of the total costs, while the applicant pays the remaining 25 percent.
Both the tribe and Sierra County, located in southwestern New Mexico, were added to the disaster declaration signed Sept. 30 by President Barack Obama.
"Adding Sierra County and the Navajo Nation to the disaster declaration means assistance is now available to help with eligible costs for repairs," said Federal Coordinating Officer Nancy Casper in a press release.
Severe monsoon weather hit the Navajo Nation in August and September causing flooding to communities and roads.
The Navajo Nation Commission on Emergency Management declared a state of emergency for the reservation on Aug. 21.
According to the commission's resolution, 21 chapters in Arizona, 26 chapters in New Mexico and six chapters in Utah sustained damage from the flooding.
Approximately 50 earthen dams located on tribal lands breached due to torrential rainfall, causing erosion and damaging some communities.
During the monsoon weather, the Navajo Nation Department of Emergency Management received assistance from county and state emergency departments along with the Red Cross, the Hopi Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The tribe's Department of Emergency Management could not be reached for comment Monday.
Bernalillo, Colfax, Luna, Sandoval and Socorro counties and the Cochiti, Kewa, San Felipe and Sandia Pueblos were previously included in the declaration after these areas were affected by severe storms and flooding in July.
Amendments made in January to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act made it possible for federally recognized tribes to apply for and receive major disaster declarations and federal emergency aid.
In March, the Navajo Nation signed an agreement with FEMA to receive federal emergency funds to cover the cost of repairing water lines that were frozen or damaged when low temperatures impacted the reservation for several weeks earlier in the year.