Posts tagged: federal aid
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has issued a statewide disaster declaration due to wildfires, allowing Idaho National Guard troops to be mobilized to help fight fires burning across the state. The declaration, signed yesterday, is for the next 30 days, but notes that it could be extended. “There is an imminent threat to life and property as a result of wildfires within the state of Idaho,” the governor's declaration states. “Dry fuels, lightning, high winds and smoke have created this perilous situation.”
Rob Feeley, public affairs officer for the Idaho state Bureau of Homeland Security, said the declaration is allowing National Guard troops and equipment to be mobilized starting today. They're headed to the Trinity Ridge, Halstead and Mustang Complex fires, including ground transportation to help move supplies and personnel, traffic control crews, and standby helicopters for medical evacuation.
“This is because the fires around Idaho are having trouble securing the resources that they need to be able to fight the fires,” Feeley said, “because there are so many fires going on across the nation, across the western United States, that some of the things they need they just can't get, for example helicopters. Every helicopter that meets their safety inspection requirements is already contracted.”
Otter also signed a separate disaster declaration yesterday for Elmore County at that county's request, to allow the county to receive FEMA funds for structure protection at Pine and Featherville from the Trinity Ridge fire. The federal fire management assistance grant is for “when the situation is dire enough there are houses, businesses at risk,” Feeley said. The federal grant will pay 75 percent of the costs for structure protection there; the resources targeted on that fire now are for wildland firefighting. Several city fire departments from throughout the state of Idaho are now mobilizing and heading there to protect the towns.
The Western Governors Association sent a letter to congressional leaders today urging more and speedier federal aid for states hard-hit by wildfires this year, plus more aid for the states to cope with the fallout after the fires, from restoring wildlife habitat to protecting municipal water supplies from erosion.
“We recognize our request comes at a time when there is a broad bipartisan consensus that we must reduce the federal deficit,” the western governors wrote. “However, response and recovery from natural disasters should not require offsets elsewhere in the budget or come at the expense of ongoing forest restoration and wildfire prevention efforts.”
In addition to current WGA Chairman Gary Herbert, governor of Utah, and vice chair John Hickenlooper, governor of Colorado, the letter bears the signatures of both Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, the association's lead governors for forest health; you can read the full letter here.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) ― Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter's office is seeking federal assistance for victims of a southeastern Idaho range fire that destroyed 66 homes and 29 outbuildings. Otter on Tuesday toured ground charred by the now-notorious Charlotte Fire, which left a moonscape of concrete foundations and torched houses when it roared into life near Pocatello June 28. Otter says state, county and city officials are busy exploring options for financial help from Washington, D.C. The Republican governor, who normally eschews too much gratitude to the federal government, promised locals affected by the fire that he'd exhaust every opportunity to secure aid to help the community rebuild. Otter was particularly struck by the 1,040-acre fire's hit-or-miss nature, seemingly to destroy one house at whim while leaving another nearby standing and intact, with no damage.