Fresno, California 2020-10-16 21:21:40 –
Initially, the government changed tune on Friday after saying that the federal government would not declare a catastrophe.
What does this mean for the recovery of California wildfires and what will happen next? Here’s what you need to know:
What is California seeking help for?
Governor Gavin Newsom called on the federal government to declare a major disaster on September 28. If this is approved, the state and federal governments can share the costs of damage, cleanup, and reconstruction. The Disaster Declaration also activates a relief program led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Assistance for this round was requested to the Creek Fires in Fresno and Madera County, the Bobcat Fire in Los Angeles County, the Oak Fire in Mendoshino County, the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County, the Valley Fire in San Diego County, and Slater. Fire in Siskiyu County.
In August, California secured federal assistance to help pay for several Lightning Complex fires in the lakes, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties. This made the Trump administration’s recent refusal even more surprising. The Associated Press reported that refusals to the disaster relief fund are rare, and many are wondering what went wrong.
Why did the Trump administration initially reject California’s request?
The Trump administration says it was because Governor Newsom did not provide a sufficiently accurate estimate of the damage. However, the fire is still burning, so the damage estimate has not yet been finalized.
The White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deer issued the following statement:
“This summer, President Trump swiftly approved a wildfire bailout in California, backed by estimated damage. In fact, this week, he approves raising the federal government’s funding level to 100%. This made additional disaster relief available in California. Debris removal and emergency safeguards implemented as a result of wildfires since August 14, 2020. Recent individual California submissions , Not supported by relevant data that the state must provide for approval, the President agreed with FEMA. Administrator Recommendation. “
Why did the Trump administration change its mind?
The reason for the change is not yet clear, but Congressman Tom McClintock (Republican) said Friday that the president was “promised to overturn FEMA’s decision to deny the request,” “the presidential disaster declaration is imminent. , Help is on the way. “
Congressman McCarthy @GOPLeader I just informed me that the president had promised to overturn FEMA’s decision to reject the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s request for a recent fire. The presidential disaster declaration is imminent and support is underway.
— Tom McClintock (@RepMcClintock) October 16, 2020
“We have just hung up with President Trump, who approved our request for a catastrophe declaration, and we are grateful for his prompt response,” Governor Newsom said in a statement Friday afternoon.
Why does California need help?
After the coronavirus pandemic turned a budget surplus into a $ 50 billion budget deficit, California is already in a very difficult financial situation. Fighting record-breaking wildfires, and trying to prevent them, is a costly endeavor. Without federal support, it’s not clear where the state will find the money on its budget.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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