Gov. Jay Inslee today learned that President Obama has approved part of his request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the record-breaking wildfires that spread across Eastern Washington this summer.
The president’s declaration makes available the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance Program for infrastructure damage to eight counties and the Colville Tribe. The program helps offset costs these counties and state agencies incurred to provide emergency protective measures, as well as repair and replace some disaster-damaged facilities.
“I’m thankful to the president and his team for this assistance and support,” Inslee said. “Our state has faced more than our fair share of catastrophic disasters over the last year and they’ve taken a significant toll both emotionally and financially. This year alone – our state has spent more than $100 million just in firefighting costs. This financial assistance will help our state as we recover from these devastating events.”
Jurisdictions that FEMA determined qualify for the Public Assistance program include: Chelan, Ferry, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Whatcom, and Yakima Counties, as well as the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. FEMA did not approve Public Assistance for Asotin, Columbia, Douglas, Garfield, and the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the Spokane Tribe of Indians and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation.
FEMA has prepared more information to describe the help offered through the Public Assistance program.
FEMA is still considering Inslee’s request for its Individual Assistance program. That program provides help to families and businesses that suffered losses with things like rental assistance, home repairs and lost household goods. The fires destroyed 146 homes and damaged another 476. Nearly two-thirds were uninsured or underinsured.
Prior to the Public Assistance program, Washington received 12 Fire Management Assistance Grants to help defray 75 percent of eligible state and local fire suppression costs associated with the summer’s many fires. These grants are awarded to pay for suppression efforts that prevent a fire from turning into a major disaster.