Biden approves disaster assistance for California wildfires

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President Biden on Tuesday approved California’s request for a presidential declaration on major disasters, a move that provides federal assistance to four counties devastated by the Dixie and River fires.

The statement can provide grants for temporary housing, home repairs, low-cost loans to cover losses of uninsured property, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover, according to a White House press release.

Federal funding has also been made available to eligible state, tribal and local governments and certain private non-profit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protection measures in Lassen Counties, Nevada, Place and Plumas.

Eight counties in total were listed in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request on Monday, however his office said in a press release the next day that more flames – including the Caldor’s fire – could be added once the ongoing damage assessments have been completed.

“California appreciates President Biden’s early approval of our request and the ongoing work of our heroic firefighters and emergency responders to protect communities in Northern California,” Newsom said in a statement. .

To help bring evacuated residents back to their homes, the state has already started removing hazardous household waste from fires in several counties, the first step in returning damaged properties to their owners, the governor’s office said. Teams also assessed the damage so that the state could maximize its requests for federal aid.

California leaders are no strangers to asking the White House for help after disasters. Last fall, a similar request sent to the Trump administration was refused but quickly reversed after former President Donald J. Trump spoke with Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, and Representative Kevin McCarthy, a Republican and the House Minority Leader.

At least 11 large fires in California continue to strain the firefighting resources of the state and its residents. The Dixie fire, the second largest on record in California, burned 735,000 acres in the upstate, New York Times wildfire tracker says. It is 43 percent contained. The Caldor fire, near Sacramento, became the priority of firefighters and officials after burning over 120,000 acres in 10 days. Other fires, including the McFarland and Monument fires, also remain active.

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