Trump Reverses on Aid After Call With Governor

State requests for disaster relief are seldom turned down
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 16, 2020 1:33 PM CDT
Updated Oct 16, 2020 4:45 PM CDT
No Disaster Aid, Administration Tells California
Bikers ride Thursday through the Montclair district of Oakland, where power is turned off to try to prevent wildfires during the region's hot, windy weather.   (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

President Trump has reversed course and approved a previously rejected California application for disaster relief funds to clean up damage from six recent wildfires. Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement Friday that he had talked to Trump on the phone and that the president approved the major disaster declaration, the AP reports. The White House earlier said the Federal Emergency Management Agency rejected the request because it was not supported by the required data. Newsom, a Democrat, formally submitted a letter to the White House on Sept. 28 asking for a major disaster declaration, said Brian Ferguson of the governor's Office of Emergency Services. He said earlier Friday that the state planned to appeal the rejection. The New York Times called the denial a "rare move" for a disaster of this scope.

Federal major disaster declarations allow the state and federal governments to share costs for damage, cleanup, and rebuilding. They also activate relief programs led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Newsom had previously praised the Trump administration for approving aid related to the fires. No major new fires were reported early Friday, but warnings of dangerously hot, dry, and gusty conditions that can fan fires were expected to remain in effect until the evening. Nearly 9,000 firefighters remain on the lines of 21 fires. It has been a disastrous wildfire season in California, with more than 8,500 blazes burning more than 6,400 square miles since the start of the year. Thirty-one people have died, and some 9,200 buildings have been destroyed.

(More California wildfires stories.)

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