Saturday, 13 April 2024

Congressional Delegation asks president for disaster declaration

NORTH COAST – With much of California still under siege from fires in wildlands and near homes, California' s Congressional Delegation is asking the president for help.

The 28 members of Congress – including Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson – sent the letter to President George W. Bush on Friday, seeking a disaster declaration for the state.

“This is a disaster of major scope and consequence,” the delegation wrote.

The letter states that more than 8,000 lightning strikes and record-low rainfall led to an estimated 1,088 fires burning in 30 counties throughout California, with 265,000 acres burned, 284 homes lost or damaged, and thousands of people evacuated.

The “overwhelming” number of fires has stretched state and local resources to the limit, the letter stated.

All of the state's firefighting resources are battling the blazes, yet 15 percent of the fires still don't have even a single firefighter working on them. “This is not due to negligence – our fire agencies have had to make the hard choices to abandon some fires in order to battle others,” the members of Congress wrote.

More lightning strikes and more fires also could be on the way, they stated.

The delegation asked the president to make an emergency declaration under the Stafford Act in order to provide “the essential federal resources” needed to save the homes, property and – potentially – the lives of state residents.

On Friday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office reported that he, too, had sent a letter to President Bush requesting a state of emergency for California.

On Thursday Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Mendocino and Shasta counties. He's made similar declarations for five other counties as well – Butte, Monterey, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Trinity.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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