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article imageWhite House rejects California's request for disaster-relief aid

By Karen Graham     Oct 16, 2020 in Politics
Sacramento - The Trump administration rejected California's request for disaster-relief funds to help it recover from some of the worst wildfires in the state's history.
California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, formally submitted a letter to the White House on September 28, asking for a major disaster declaration, said Brian Ferguson, with the governor’s Office of Emergency Services. On Thursday, Ferguson was not able to explain why the request was denied, according to Bakersfield Now.
The governor's 30-page disaster funds request did not ask for a specific amount, but detailed the wildfire incidents, including Los Angeles County’s Bobcat fire, San Bernardino County’s El Dorado fire, and the Creek fire, one of the largest in the state that continues to burn in Fresno and Madera counties.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said Friday that California’s request “was not supported by the relevant data” needed for approval and that President Donald Trump agreed with a recommendation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator.
Docked boats burn on Lake Berryessa during the LNU Lightning Complex fire in Napa  California on Aug...
Docked boats burn on Lake Berryessa during the LNU Lightning Complex fire in Napa, California on August 19, 2020
“The state plans to appeal the decision and believes we have a strong case that California’s request meets the federal requirements for approval,” Ferguson said in an email to The Associated Press on Friday.
It is very rare for disaster relief funds to be denied by the federal government, and this may not be a good time for the Trump administration to be making people angry. The funds allow the state and federal governments to share costs for damage, cleanup, and rebuilding. They also activate relief programs led by FEMA.
And Newsom has previously praised the Trump administration for approving aid related to the fires and California's struggles with the coronavirus pandemic. Besides tweeting that California would be appealing the decision, the governor also appeared to aim a tweet at the president – writing simply “18 days,” the length of time left until Election Day.
Even though no new fires were reported on Friday, the weather service is warning of dangerously hot, dry and gusty conditions that can fan fires that are expected to remain in effect until the evening.
This has been a disastrous fire season for California, with more than 8,500 blazes burning more than 6,400 square miles (16,000 square kilometers) since the start of the year. Thirty-one people have died and some 9,200 buildings have been destroyed.
More about California, Wildfires, disaster relief funds, Climate change, federal requirements
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