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Congressmembers Garamendi, Thompson and Huffman Send Formal Request to President Trump for Major Disaster Declaration

August 7, 2018
Press Release


August 7, 2018

Contact:           GARAMENDI: Dante Atkins (202) 225-1880
                        THOMPSON: Alex Macfarlane (202) 225-3311
                        HUFFMAN:  Ben Miller (202) 225-5161

Congressmembers Garamendi, Thompson and Huffman Send Formal Request to President Trump for Major Disaster Declaration

LAKE COUNTY, CA—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Davis, Fairfield, Yuba City), together with neighboring Representatives Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman, sent a letter to President Trump supporting Governor Brown’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for Lake, Napa, and Mendocino Counties in response to the Steele and Mendocino Complex Fires. If approved, the Major Disaster Declaration will provide federal resources to facilitate firefighting and recovery efforts, which will be badly needed to recover from what is now the largest wildfire in California history.

“As these fires continue to rage across California, my thoughts go out to all the families who have lost loved ones, their homes, and their jobs,” Garamendi said. “I have been traveling through Lake County observing the fire damage and firefighting operations, and I am constantly amazed by the bravery of our incredible first responders, evacuation center volunteers, and local residents who have confronted this disaster together.

“This is the fifth major fire in Lake County over the last three years. Families throughout the community have faced the ultimate hardship but continue to persevere and keep their heads held high. I spoke with an evacuee at Lower Lake High School last week as she tried to gather any information available on the status of her home. ‘I just came back from the hospital and they told me the news,’ she told me. I asked if she was okay and she replied, ‘Yes, but in three months I’ll have triplets — not twins.’ She got up with a hearty laugh, a big smile and said, ‘Yep I’ll be okay,’ as she walked off to the evening meal without knowing if her home was safe.

“That unbreakable spirit can be witnessed in every firefighter, evacuee, and evacuation center volunteer in the community. It’s truly inspiring, and I have been moved by the acts of heroism I have witnessed here this week.

“I will do everything in my power to provide proper support and relief for the victims of the California Wildfires, and I implore the President to grant swift approval of our request for a Major Disaster Declaration.”

The full letter from Representatives Garamendi, Huffman and Thompson is available here, and the text is below. The letter was also signed by 22 other members of the California delegation, including Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), and Representatives Ken Calvert (CA-42), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Ed Royce (CA-39), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Judy Chu (CA-27), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Scott Peters (CA-52), Raul Ruiz (CA-36), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Norma Torres (CA-35), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34).

August 7, 2018

The President

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Today, we write in support of the State of California’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance and Public Assistance as a result of the devastating wildfires in Lake, Mendocino, and Napa Counties.

California has experienced an unusual amount of wildfire activity—with 16 wildfires burning simultaneously throughout the state. These fires have been exacerbated by the weather, which is exceptionally hot and dry. Daytime highs and nighttime lows have averaged 10 degrees above normal and drought conditions prevail. We appreciate your swift approval of a Major Disaster Declaration for Shasta County for the Carr Fire, as well as of Fire Management Assistance Grants, to help our state fight these devastating fires.  As you know, the Carr Fire that began its devastating impact in Shasta County has also crossed into Trinity County, where mandatory evacuation orders were issued and additional assistance may be required.

On July 27, 2018, the River and Ranch Fires ignited in Mendocino County and quickly crossed into Lake County. These two fires, collectively known as the Mendocino Complex Fire, subsequently exploded in size, threatening highly populated areas within Lake County. They have scorched more than 270,000 acres and forced the entire population of Upper Lake and the City of Lakeport to evacuate. The Mendocino Complex Fire continues to grow at an alarming rate, and is now the largest fire in our state’s history. It is only 30 percent contained.

In addition, on the evening of July 28, 2018, the Steele Fire ignited in Napa County. Though smaller in size than the Carr or Mendocino Complex Fires, the Steele Fire has already been extremely destructive. Residents were forced to flee with almost no prior notice, as the fire destroyed homes soon after ignition.

These catastrophic fires are a disaster of major scope and consequence. Therefore, we strongly support the State of California’s request for a major disaster declaration for these communities. We appreciate your consideration of this request and stand ready to assist you in expediting support and resources to the communities afflicted by this terrible tragedy.