President Trump reversed course today and approved a major disaster declaration for California wildfires after a call with Gov. Gavin Newsom.
A disaster declaration provides federal support and funding for damages and rebuilding. It also enlists the support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In a Sept. 28 request, the Democratic governor asked for a declaration following six new fires across the state that had by then consumed 2 million acres, killed three people and scorched nearly 1,000 homes.
Trump had previously granted such an earlier request from Newsom when the state's historic wildfire season began in August.
But the White House initially denied the more recent request.
In a statement this morning, White House spokesman Judd Deere said there were deficiencies in California's application, including that it lacked "relevant data" (Greenwire, Oct. 16).
The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services disputed that characterization and said they would appeal the decision.
California is in the midst of its worst wildfire season in known history. More than 4.1 million acres have burned.
In its recent application, the state estimated that the damages from only the six fires at issue would cost more than $346 million, including infrastructure repairs exceeding $229 million.
Newsom also emphasized that the fires and COVID-19 pandemic have devastated the state's finances, creating a $54.3 billion deficit.