As California seeks additional federal aid as it recovers from the record-breaking wildfire season that continues to grip the state, the Trump administration has reportedly denied California’s request for disaster relief funds, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The decision was handed down either late Wednesday or early Thursday after the request was submitted on Sept. 28. The aid is sought to be allocated toward cleaning up debris leftover from recent wildfires like the El Dorado, Creek and Bobcat fires.
Brian Ferguson, the deputy director of crisis communication and media relations for the California governor’s Office of Emergency Services, couldn’t provide a reason behind the White House’s rejection.
Previously, in January, Trump said he may withhold aid to California unless he got assurances the funding will be allocated properly.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has frequently declared states of emergency to release state funds to supply additional resources to fight the flames.
If a major disaster declaration were to be approved, the federal government would help by providing a bevy of resources and assistance programs to the public infrastructure of the state, which would cover funding for emergency and permanent work. The declaration is a part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Amid delegating resources to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, the state needs supplemental funding, with California facing an approximate $54.3-billion deficit.
The proposal submitted by Newsom on behalf of California did not include a specific requested sum, given that the real cost of the damage may not be known for a significant amount of time afterwards.
“The true cost won’t be known for months or years afterward,” Ferguson told the Times. “What the state is looking for is the highest level of federal support, which requires the highest bars be cleared. But we feel our case for those requirements has been met.”
He also said that projected amounts of funding could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The 2020 wildfire season for California — which is still ongoing — saw a record number of incidents and acres burned. The August Complex Fire made history by being the first single fire to burn more than 1 million acres, and a total of 31 lives have been lost, according to Cal Fire.
So far, more than 4 million acres have been scorched after 8,486 incidents, causing destruction or damage to 9,247 structures. Eight fires are still burning in California, including the dangerous August Complex Fire.
The Times reports that Newsom estimated the cost of damages to these properties amounts to about $264,289,200.
Ferguson concluded by saying that he hopes FEMA will approve the decision anyway.