Congressman Ruiz Tours Desert Storm Damage; Fed Help Won’t Be Immediate; Riverside County Assesses Storm Damage At $126M

Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-25) released the following statement after taking an aerial tour of I-10 and Bob Hope, Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, Coachella, Mecca, Desert Shores, and Salton City to assess the damages caused by Tropical Storm Hilary:

“After seeing first-hand the significant damages caused by Tropical Storm Hilary, it is evident that our communities were impacted the most by the storm and need immediate access to federal and state funding to help them recover and rebuild,” said Dr. Ruiz. “I continue to urge President Biden to make a Major Disaster Declaration for Southern California and release the necessary federal funds for our communities.”


A major disaster declaration provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work.

The requirements for a major disaster declaration are:

  • Confirmation that the Governor or Tribal Chief Executive has taken appropriate action under State or Tribal law and directed execution of the State or Tribal emergency plan;
  • An estimate of the amount and severity of damage to the public and private sector;
  • A description of the State and local or Indian tribal government efforts and resources utilized to alleviate the disaster;
  • Preliminary estimates of the type and amount of Stafford Act assistance needed; and
  • Certification by the Governor or Tribal Chief Executive that the State and local governments or Indian tribal government will comply with all applicable cost sharing requirements.


Tropical Storm Hilary Damage Assessment from Riverside County:

The damage left from Tropical Storm Hilary is currently estimated more than $126 million throughout all Riverside County. 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.

Damage estimates from cities and unincorporated areas continue to be compiled by the County of Riverside Emergency Management Department. The County of Riverside will seek assistance from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) for disaster recovery.

“Hurricane Hilary has caused upwards of $100 million in damage throughout Riverside County, with the most impact on the Coachella Valley, and this number may grow as we continue to assess the damage,” said Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez.  “This tropical storm was real, our agencies and communities prepared for it and took it seriously, and we pre-positioned equipment and resources in the Coachella Valley. This is a natural disaster that caused significant damage to the 10 Freeway, to county roadways and to most of our Coachella Valley cities.  We urge all valley cities to report their damages to the Riverside County Emergency Management Department, so that we can seek the necessary resources and assistance to help our communities recover. For the safety of drivers and the crews who are out restoring roads, we ask the community to respect the safety guidance and road closures.”

Historically, the February 14, 2019 storm was among the most costly in Riverside County history. Damages from that storm exceeded $73 million.

Damage categories include (not a complete listing)*:

  • $82,772,375 – Roads and Bridges
  • $25,783,000 – Water Control Facilities
  • $16,628,417 – Individual Assistance (Private Property)
  • $6,151,905 – Debris Removal
  • $3,417,077 – Emergency Protective Measures

* All numbers are subject to change as additional damages are discovered.

“This is truly a devastating disaster,” noted Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton. “But for all the damage, it’s important to note that early on we encouraged residents to prepare. Residents took our warnings seriously and we had no reported loss of life. We have a lot of work to do to recover from Hilary, but minimizing loss of life is what is most important.”

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



Aerial View of Tropical Storm Hilary damage Aug 24th 2023

Photo from the Office of Congressman Raul Ruiz