The MALDEN Act: Helping Rural Communities Recover From Disaster

In 2020, the Babb Road Fire ripped through Malden and Pine City, destroying more than 80% of structures in both towns. I saw the destruction myself – the post office, town hall, and countless family homes all burned down. After the fire was put out, coordination between local officials and the federal government was slow, unclear, and inadequate. On top of that, our request for Individual Assistance was also denied, making the road to recovery much longer for the families who lost everything.

Now just 3 years later, the Gray and Oregon Road Fires burned through more than 20,000 acres in Spokane County. Once again, we saw a slow response from the federal government, and FEMA ultimately denied requests for both public and individual assistance because the damage was found to be below the required threshold.

These devastating examples are an unfortunate reminder that rural communities are often at a disadvantage when it comes to coordinating with the federal government to receive the resources they need after a disaster. In order to make sure no other town goes through what the people of Malden experienced, I believe the federal government must do more to make the process of receiving assistance easier. That’s why I teamed up with Senator Maria Cantwell to reintroduce the Making Aid for Local Disasters Equal Now (MALDEN) Act. 

The bill will help get the most effective resources on the ground in rural communities affected by a natural disaster as soon as possible by improving coordination between local emergency managers, state officials, and federal government agencies like FEMA. 

3 years ago – after the fires in Malden and Pine City – I introduced a similar version of this bill, but Democrats in the House rejected it. My hope is that this time will be different. I joined Bradley Warren on KHQ to talk about what this important bill means for our communities and the steps we can take to get it onto the president’s desk and signed into law. You can watch the interview here:

The bottom line is this: The MALDEN Act takes what we’ve learned from the devastating Babb, Gray, and Oregon Road Fires and turns it into action we can count on in the future. Rural communities are counting on us, and I won’t stop working until we deliver..

CLICK HERE to read the full bill text.
CLICK HERE for a one-pager on the MALDEN Act.

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