After initially rejecting the request, the federal government Friday approved California’s bid for disaster relief funds to assist the response to wildfires statewide, including in Los Angeles and San Diego counties.
“Just got off the phone with President (Donald) Trump who has approved our major disaster declaration request,” Gov. Gavin Newsom announced early Friday afternoon. “Grateful for his quick response.”
The declaration frees up millions of dollars in federal relief funding for recovery efforts across the state, including in response to the Bobcat Fire in Los Angeles County, the Valley Fire in San Diego County and blazes in San Bernardino, Fresno, Madera, Mendocino and Siskiyou counties.
The federal government initially rejected the state’s request for a disaster declaration and accompanying relief funds. The Federal Emergency Management Agency determined that there were already sufficient local and federal resources in place to respond to the specific fires cited in the state’s request.
The denial highlighted the political animosity between the state and Trump, who has repeatedly assailed California’s forest-management and wildfire-preparation measures. The president last year suggested that the federal government withhold emergency funds from the state absent major policy changes, but he never followed through.
Emergency funding from FEMA can cover as much as 75% of local fire-response efforts.
According to the governor’s office, the presidential declaration “helps people in the impacted counties through eligibility for support including crisis counseling, housing and unemployment assistance and legal services.”
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