Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

President Orders End to FEMA Money for California Wildfire Recovery

President Orders End to FEMA Money for California Wildfire Recovery

President Donald Trump has again tweeted his dislike for the way forest management is handled and says he has called on FEMA to stop sending money to California to offer assistance to those affected by wildfires. An email sent to them generated this automated reply: "Due to the federal funding hiatus, we are not able to respond to general press queries".

The Republican congressman who represents the Camp Fire region, Doug LaMalfa, said he shares Trump's "great frustration with California's choking regulations" but pushed back on the president over the timing of his tweet.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on the intent of the president's tweet.

Fire control is not Mr Trump's only grievance with the Golden State, which voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Mr Newsom in November.

"Disasters and recovery are no time for politics", Newsom added in a subsequent tweet.

Just last week, FEMA extended the deadline for wildfire survivors to apply for disaster assistance, including grants to help homeowners and renters find temporary housing, among other needs.

California's Democratic politicians blasted Trump for his threat. Their request was not considered a year ago and the new Congress has not taken up a disaster aid package. Guidelines for the way federal dollars flow after the president declares a national disaster, like he did after devastating wildfires in California this year, are outlined in the Stafford Act, said Rafael Lemaitre, the former director of public affairs for FEMA under the Obama administration.

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Writing on Twitter, Pelosi blasted Trump, saying his "threat insults the memory of scores of Americans who perished in wildfires past year & thousands more who lost their homes".

Amid a partial government shutdown that is headed into its third week with no end in sight, President Trump threatened to cut off federal funding for California - now recovering from its deadliest wildfire in history.

In November, the deadliest USA wildfire in a century leveled the California town of Paradise, killing 86 people and destroying about 14,000 homes. Jerry Brown, D, and then-Gov. -elect Gavin Newsom, D, and appeared moved when talking about the lives lost. Although he blames the onslaught on forest mismanagement exclusively, it's actually a much more complicated issue - weather, climate change, human-building, and mismanagement are all to blame.

Mr Trump's threat to withhold Federal Emergency Management Agency funds from recent wildfire survivors drew a swift rebuke from California Senator Kamala Harris. He also announced a partnership with the governors of OR and Washington, two other fire-prone states.

Macdonald said he does not understand President Trump's logic when it comes to federal funding in the state. "If the president were serious about addressing wildfire, he would recommit the United States to reducing harmful emissions rather than attacking wildfire victims and referring to climate change as a hoax".

The first order gives state agencies permission to consult with private firms and academic institutions about employing the best, most sustainable technology to fight forest fires.

This article was written by Amy B Wang and Katie Mettler, reporters for The Washington Post.

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