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home : latest news : latest news September 30, 2016

9/17/2013 2:23:00 PM
FEMA turns down second request to help Yarnell

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Saying it just doesn't qualify, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has again rebuffed the request by Gov. Jan Brewer for a disaster declaration following the deadly Yarnell Hill Fire.

In a letter Friday to the governor, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said he reviewed the new information she submitted after his agency rejected her first request. But Fugate said nothing Brewer provided changes his mind.

"The impact from this event is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration,' he wrote.

Despite that decision, the U.S. Small Business Administration, in a separate announcement Friday, said it would offer disaster assistance to homeowners, renters and businesses affected by the blaze that claimed the lives of 19 firefighters. That comes in the form of low-interest loans of up to $200,000 to homeowners for repair or replacement of their property, $40,000 for residents for destroyed personal belongings, and $2 million for businesses to repair or replace damaged or destroyed buildings, machinery, equipment, inventory and other business assets.

Brewer, in a prepared statement about the FEMA decision, said the agency was off-base in its decision.

"A declaration was reasonable and justified for the nation's deadliest fire in 80 years,' she said.

But press aide Andrew Wilder sidestepped questions about whether the deaths, while tragic, was relevant to the issue -- and the fact that FEMA bases its decisions on the economic losses claimed in the request and the capability of state and local governments to deal with them.

Instead, Wilder said the fact that the losses were far smaller than something like Hurricane Sandy is irrelevant.

"Some things are on a larger scale, some things are on a smaller scale,' he said. And Wilders said the community, with "a lot of elderly, poorer folks,' was hard hit.

"Just because there were fewer of them than the Hurricane Sandy case doesn't take away from their needs,' he said.

And Wilder said it should not matter if the costs of blaze would not work a hardship on the state.

"We are taxpayers in Arizona,' he said, who send money to Washington.

"There is a program for this, for needs like this,' Wilder continued. "It is reasonable that Arizona reach out and request its share of assistance.'

Several members of the state's congressional delegation, from both parties, issued their own statements of disappointment.

Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican whose district includes Yarnell, called the FEMA decision "arbitrary and capricious.' And he took a slap at the Obama administration which sent Vice President Joe Biden to a memorial ceremony.

"It is beyond disappointing that once the TV cameras have left, the administration would turn its back on Yarnell and Peeples Valley,' Gosar said.

FEMA spokesman Dan Watson said the issue his agency looks at is the amount of damage to uninsured private residences -- what the governor's office put into the request for disaster designation. In this case, he said, that value "was not beyond the response and recovery capabilities' of government and voluntary agencies.

Gosar, asked about the legal limits on the ability of FEMA to issue a declaration based at least in part on the firefighter deaths, said he does not see that as a separate issue.

"The Yarnell fire is both a disaster and a tragedy, regardless of how FEMA labels it,' he said. "We will pick up the pieces without FEMA's help.'

Several other members of the delegation also focused in their statements on the deaths despite the restrictions on what FEMA can consider.

"This tragedy that took the lives of 19 brave Arizona men is clearly a disaster, regardless of how it is labeled by FEMA,' said Democratic Rep. Ron Barber.

"The administration's promises of support when this heartbreaking human tragedy first occurred seem to have been so quickly forgotten,' said Republican Rep. Trent Franks.

And Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick said the congressional delegation promised area residents they would do all they could to provide resources and support. "I am disappointed that the administration has not done the same,' she said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, September 23, 2013
Article comment by: MJ, MJ just go play Far and away

We have already heard all you have to say

Obama is evil with a liberal horde
really man that is old and bored

blah blah howling this
blah blah howling that

we get it you are not a fan
so really just go away man

nothing new or constructive to offer
just a pile of dust in the bottom of the coffer

try as you like to press the point
you are not the one to anoint

Flame on and enjoy the reply
you are just the apple of a liberals eye

please proceed we say
in the end you make our point anyway.

Posted: Monday, September 23, 2013
Article comment by: M J

Dear Leader barry's behind was not properly kissed .... so.... no money for you Az.
He is still waiting for one of you fine fine liberals to start kissing....
For you liberal volunteer behind kissers... think of it as being for the good of Az.

Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Article comment by: Doesnt buy into this nonsense at all

Maybe Jan Brewer should quit sticking her finger in the President's face. Since so many in this state seem to blame everything they don't like on Obama, it seems not riling his feathers might be a good step.

Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Article comment by: To clarify -

While there may have been funds sent to fight the fires the subject at hand is post fire event reconstruction, per the posted articles it seems that they have received the same treatment as the state of AZ in that respect.

Regardless- it is interesting to see how quickly the house of cards about personal responsibility flies out the window for some folks that seem to have a conservative/tea position most time until it is them that needs the help.

Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Article comment by: C. Glisson- please review -

Fema does seem to be more active on the recent flooding but per sources below- the actions seem to match those in AZ-

"In a letter to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, the FEMA Office of Response and Recovery wrote, “Based on our review of all of the information available, including the level of insurance coverage for the impacted homes, it has been determined that the impact in El Paso County is not of the severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of the Individuals and Household Program and Disaster Legal Services.” "

"Gov. John Hickenlooper, who applied for the presidential disaster declaration that a week ago awarded El Paso County many other types of aid, has 30 days to appeal the decision. In the meantime, El Paso County and those affected by the Black Forest fire can apply for FEMA public and private assistance grants to pay for damage to public infrastructure, as well as unemployment assistance."

"The federal disaster agency has denied individual financial assistance for residents affected by the Black Forest Fire in Colorado Springs."

Need more?

Just because this fine state happen to have a dwindling population of republicans that have chosen some... interesting representatives does not mean that we will give up and go away... time is on our side and that clock is ticking.

And yes- we do all know why there was no FEMA $... it did not meet the criteria. Pretty simple really. The age old theory of Occam's razor applies here, the simplest answer is most often the correct answer. The complicated conspiracy answer is not.


Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Article comment by: c glisson

Not administration/politics related -Where do you get your facts from? I just checked the FEMA website and they cant give the money out fast enough to Colorado. Fires, got money....Floods got money. Don't tell me blue state with Dem Gov. dont make a difference. It appears you don't like Gosar or Republicans. Have you ever thought about moving to Colorado? We all know why Yarnell didn't get FEMA money.

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: Not administration/politics related -

So one of the guys that voted against hurricane sandy aid says this...

"Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican whose district includes Yarnell, called the FEMA decision "arbitrary and capricious.' And he took a slap at the Obama administration which sent Vice President Joe Biden to a memorial ceremony.

"It is beyond disappointing that once the TV cameras have left, the administration would turn its back on Yarnell and Peeples Valley,' Gosar said."

Yep- that happened.

Ask colorado about it.. they are a 'blue' state with a dem. gov. and they did not qualify under FEMA either.

All of the republicans in the state need to stop crying about it and actually adhere to their mantra of small government rather than showboating to try and secure future votes by criticizing the administration.

Actually no- they should proceed to cry long and loud about not getting money from the feds. Then maybe all the independents that voted for small government will see that they were played like cheap fiddles and reconsider their position next time around.

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