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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

McMorris Rodgers, Cantwell request update from Biden administration on aid for Gray, Oregon Road wildfire victims

Damage from the Oregon Road fire is photographed from the air on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, near Elk, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

WASHINGTON – Two of Washington’s congressional delegation sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday asking for an update on potential aid for the victims of two wildfires that destroyed hundreds of Spokane County homes in August.

Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers seek an update on the status of Gov. Jay Inslee’s request made in October for federal assistance to help with recovery efforts. The lawmakers point to Spokane County’s estimate that recovery and infrastructure projects will cost the county about $63 million.

“In addition, many survivors are uninsured or underinsured and are still struggling to rebuild their homes,” Cantwell and McMorris Rodgers wrote. “Federal assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individual Assistance program would help tremendously with defraying the cost for these projects and expediting getting these individuals the resources they need.”

FEMA determines which disasters qualify for federal aid based on a calculation of the total cost of damage in relation to emergency funds that state and local governments have available, according to a guide on the agency’s website.

In principle, the process doesn’t involve a president, but former President Donald Trump personally intervened to block aid to victims of the 2020 wildfires in Malden and Pine City because he was angry with Inslee.