McMorris Rodgers, Cantwell Request Immediate Update from Biden Administration on Pending Wildfire Assistance

More Than 100 Days After Gray and Oregon Road Fires, FEMA Assistance Remains Undecided

Jan 22, 2024
Forestry
Press

Spokane, Wash. – Today, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) requested an immediate update from the Biden administration on the status of Governor Jay Inslee’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration following the Gray and Oregon Road fires in Spokane County.

In a letter to President Biden, the lawmakers ask whether or not communities impacted by the August wildfires – who have been waiting patiently for more than 100 days since Gov. Inslee’s October 4, 2023 request – can expect federal resources to aid in their recovery efforts. Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers and Senator Cantwell sent a letter to President Biden in support of the governor’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration in October of last year.

Below are excerpts from their letter:

“The Oregon and Gray Road fires burned more than 22,484 acres and destroyed over 710 structures, including 366 homes. That is more homes destroyed than any other fire in Washington state history, and led to more than 1,000 residents being displaced during the emergency event with many still lacking permanent housing. 

“Spokane County determined that critical recovery and infrastructure projects associated with the Oregon and Gray Road fires will cost the city approximately $63M dollars … In addition, many survivors are uninsured or underinsured and are still struggling to rebuild their homes. 

“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.

“The Greater Spokane Area is the largest urban wildlife interface in the state and is the 4th most at-risk community in the state for wildfires. The community needs to begin to rebuild and mitigate against future disasters now. That is why we are requesting an immediate update on when a determination on the Gray and Oregon Road Major Disaster Declaration request will be made. We also strongly urge you to approve the Major Disaster Declaration request to ensure Spokane County, and specifically the Medical Lake and Elk communities, can access the federal resources they urgently need to continue to respond to this tragedy.”

CLICK HERE to read the full letter.

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