Nov 12 2018
Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris (both D-Calif.) today called on President Trump to declare California’s wildfires a major disaster and make federal resources immediately available to communities affected by the catastrophic wildfires.
“Due to the catastrophic nature of these wildfires and in order to help the affected communities and individuals rebuild as soon as possible, we ask that you expedite the declaration without the need for complete preliminary damage assessments and make federal assistance available under Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, including Individual and Public Assistance,” the senators wrote.
Full text of the letter follows:
November 12, 2018
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We strongly support California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s request for a Major Disaster declaration on November 11, 2018, for the State of California in response to the devastating wildfires burning in Butte, Los Angeles, and Ventura counties. Due to the catastrophic nature of these wildfires and in order to help the affected communities and individuals rebuild as soon as possible, we ask that you expedite the declaration without the need for complete preliminary damage assessments and make federal assistance available under Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act), including Individual and Public Assistance.
The Camp Fire in Butte County, which ignited on November 8, 2018, is now the most destructive wildfire in California history and has tragically already claimed at least 29 lives. The wildfire has burned over 113,000 acres and destroyed nearly 7,000 structures, including nearly the entire community of Paradise. For the more than 26,000 people who call Paradise home, the road to recovery will be long and we must provide the necessary federal assistance to help them rebuild their lives.
The Hill and Woolsey Fires also ignited on November 8, 2018, just a few miles apart from each other along the border of Ventura and Los Angeles counties. The impacted region includes the community of Thousand Oaks, which is also dealing with the tragic mass shooting that took place the day before the fires erupted. Together, the fires have burned more than 96,000 acres and have tragically already claimed two lives. The fires are located in a heavily populated area and roughly 230,000 people have been evacuated in the area and over 50,000 structures are at risk. Gusty winds and dry air continue to make conditions on the ground unpredictable and dangerous.
Governor Brown has determined that the severity of the wildfires is beyond the State’s capabilities, and we appreciate your swift response in issuing a Major Disaster declaration. We urge you to direct federal agencies to begin disbursing individual and public assistance as soon as possible. Thank you for your consideration of this urgent request.
United States Senator
Kamala D. Harris
United States Senator