The White House will not send California aid against wildfire damage.
Since last month, wildfires have been raging across California. While firefighters have been working to contain the blaze as best as they can, the fire has claimed the lives of thirty-one people and completely destroyed at least 9,200 buildings. Local meteorologists have been forecasting especially dry weather in the near future, which has stoked concerns that more fires may crop up. In an effort to battle this disaster, California Governor Gavin Newsom has solicited help from the White House for a Major Presidential Disaster Declaration, which would provide financial aid to the state. This request has, unfortunately, been denied.
Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, confirmed today that California’s request for federal aid had been denied by the Trump Administration. “The state plans to appeal the decision and believes we have a strong case that California’s request meets the federal requirements for approval. Meantime, Cal OES continues to aggressively pursue other available avenues for reimbursement/support to help individuals and communities impacted by these fires rebuild and recover,” Ferguson said.
When questioned why the aid was denied, deputy press secretary Judd Deere explained that California’s request was not backed up by relevant data, and that the White House had already sent aid to the state. “This summer, President Trump quickly approved wildfire relief for the State of California that was supported by damage estimates. In fact, this week the President made additional disaster assistance available to California by authorizing an increase in the level of Federal funding to 100% for debris removal and emergency protective measures undertaken as a result of the wildfires, beginning August 14, 2020, and continuing,” Deere wrote in a statement.
“The more recent and separate California submission was not supported by the relevant data that States must provide for approval and the President concurred with the FEMA Administrator’s recommendation,” Judd explained, adding that according to local damage assessments, the fires should not have been severe enough to exceed California’s capacity to fight them.