CALIFORNIA—President Donald Trump has reversed a previous decision, and has approved California’s application for disaster relief programs. In late September, California had requested the government for disaster relief funds to help fight fires and clean up damages from six destructive fires that have scorched thousands of acres across the state.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the approval in a statement on October 17 “Just got off the phone with President Trump who has approved our Major Disaster Declaration request. Grateful for his quick response,” Newsom said.
On September 28, Governor Newsom asked the Trump Administration for disaster relief in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Siskiyou counties. On October 15, Trump had announced that he denied the state’s request, saying that the application did not meet the criteria for disaster relief. It still remains unclear on what caused the decision to be reversed. A spokesman with the California governor’s Office of Emergency services announced in a statement that even without the reversal, the state would have appealed the denial anyways, as officials believed the state had a strong and urgent case.
Republic state Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno explained that the state needs funds to repair damage as quickly as possible in order to prevent more problems:
“We’re going to see rain pretty soon, snow pretty soon. If we don’t get into those areas quickly we’re going to miss this window and we’re going to end up seeing mudslides where this toxic debris goes into the San Joaquin River watershed,” Patterson said during an online news briefing.
Newsom has not specified exactly how much federal aid the state needs, because damage is still being assessed. The application was also submitted while the fires were still burning, which made it difficult to estimate total final damage. However, it is estimated that the Creek Fire alone resulted in $200 million worth of damage.