FEMA denies wildfire funds for California, Patterson asks Cal OES not to wait for the appeal


FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – Following the federal government’s announcement that it will not provide funds to California through the Major Disaster Declaration, Fresno-area Assemblymember Jim Patterson is asking Cal OES to offer its own support to areas ravaged by wildfire.

The request for funds under the Major Disaster Declaration was made for San Diego County (Valley Fire), San Bernardino County (El Dorado Fire), Fresno and Madera counties (Creek Fire), Mendocino County (Oak Fire), Los Angeles County (Bobcat Fire), and Siskiyou County (Slater Fire).

In a letter to the agency’s Director Mark Ghilarducci, Assemblymember Patterson writes that the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s Emergency Response Program should begin removing hazardous waste on fire-impacted properties in the Creek Fire disaster area.

Patterson describes what he calls a “nightmare scenario” where homeowners abandon their property because it is too costly to clean up, leaving hazardous waste such as burned-out cars and appliances behind.

A large number of my constituents living in the area had little or no insurance. The cost of hiring a contractor for waste removal can run upwards of $70,000. Those who are underinsured may only have part of the cleanup covered. Those without insurance would be responsible for the entire cost.

Assemblymember Jim Patterson

Patterson adds that as rain and snow are imminent, Cal OES must work quickly to stay ahead of potential mudslides and watersheds – and not lose time waiting for the results of an appeal to FEMA to secure disaster funding.

In a statement, Cal OES says it believes it has a strong case that the state’s request meets the requirements for approval.

Meantime, Cal OES continues to aggressively pursue other available avenues for reimbursement/support to help individuals and communities impacted by these fires rebuild and recover. 

Brian Ferguson, Deputy Director for Crisis Communication & Public Affairs

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