Lawmakers Ask President Biden To Act On Washington Wildfire Relief After Trump Refused
Washington’s U.S. senators say they’ve asked President Joe Biden to approve a major disaster declaration for eastern Washington towns that were burned by wildfires last fall. Those include the Whitman County town of Malden, which lost about 80% of its homes.
Then-President Trump never responded to two disaster applications from Gov. Jay Inslee. The Spokesman-Review previously reported that Trump held up the aid over his spat with Inslee, an outspoken critic.
That, say Malden leaders, has kept their recovery effort in limbo. It has kept them from accessing other forms of aid. Many of the burned homes were uninsured or underinsured.
Separately, eastern Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers sent her own letter to Biden on Friday over the issue.
“I am writing to bring your immediate attention to the devastation experienced by communities in Eastern Washington during the 2020 wildfire season and to seek your help in approving a major disaster declaration that will provide relief for the residents of Malden and Pine City in Whitman County, Washington,” the letter said.
With the change in administration, senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell hope the state’s application will receive a more sympathetic ear.
Malden Mayor Dan Harwood, speaking at a legislative hearing in Olympia on Friday, said the residents of his town and nearby Pine City have suffered enough.
“No one lost their lives then, but three weeks later, we started losing folks to the stress of losing their homes. We lost an 86-year-old lady. She lost the fight of her life. She’d given up because they’d lost their home,” he said.
In their letter, Murray and Cantwell ask the president to act quickly to grant the disaster request.
NWPB’s Scott Leadingham contributed to this story.
Last year, former President Trump refused to approve a routine disaster declaration for Malden because he was feuding with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat. So that federal aid didn’t start arriving until after President Biden took office and he finally signed the order. Continue Reading Federal Aid Arrived For Devastated Washington Town. It May Not Be Enough For This Fire Season
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved disaster relief requests for nine eastern Washington counties and two Native tribes impacted by summer wildfires. That includes aid for the Whitman County towns of Malden and Pine City, which burned during a Labor Day wildfire that was fanned by high winds. Continue Reading President Biden Approves Federal Aid For Eastern Washington Fires Following Months Of Requests
COVID-related aid and police reform will be two of the major issues before the Washington legislature when it convenes next month. But newly-reelected Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz hopes legislators will also consider dedicating more funding for wildfire and forest health projects. Continue Reading Washington Lands Commissioner Works To Engage Lawmakers On Fire Funding Ahead Of Session