The Trump administration’s Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied California Governor Gavin Newsom’s request for disaster relief after fires have consumed more than a million acres in the state.
FEMA offered no comment for the decision. The state is expected to appeal.
The wildfires are the worst in the state’s history, as property damage is expected to exceed the $250 million estimates made last month. Some of the fires are still burning.
A major disaster declaration allows for cost-sharing for damage, cleanup and rebuilding between the state and federal government. It also activates federal programs led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
California did not ask for a specific dollar amount because damage estimates are not complete, Ferguson said.
“The true cost won’t be known for months or years afterward,” he said.
He added: “What the state is looking for is the highest level of federal support, which requires the highest bars be cleared. But we feel our case for those requirements has been met.”
Thousands of homes and businesses have been destroyed, many of them uninsured.
Newsom also said funds would go toward helping rebuild public infrastructure, miles of roads, parks, signs and fire shelters.
“Many of the counties impacted by these wildfires are still recovering from previous devastating wildfires, storms and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Newsom wrote.
He added, “Californians are exhausted.”
The state is expected to run a staggering $54 billion budget deficit largely due to the pandemic. The twin hits of the coronavirus and the massive wildfires mean the state is probably going to get some money from Washington. How much will be up to Trump.
Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the state’s political establishment. The mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco have personally criticized the president, and Governor Newsom has defied Washington on several occasions.
But is that any reason to take out your frustrations on ordinary people?
Donald Trump will lose the state of California in a landslide on November 3. It is a very liberal Democratic state that opposes his policies on everything from immigration to environmental issues.
But there are millions of Republicans in the state who would also be hurt if the feds deny California the disaster relief funds. What would be the point of that?
In fact, it’s petty and small of the president to carry on a personal vendetta against California to the point that innocent people are hurt. Using the power of the federal government to exact revenge on his political enemies may make him and his supporters feel good, but it’s not the American way and never has been.