Biden says the United States will pay for the New Mexico wildfire recovery

SANTA FAY, NM, June 11 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden said on Saturday that the U.S. government would fund New Mexico’s full-scale wildfire operation, speaking from Santa Fe amid outrage over the survivors of a fire started by federal officials.

“We have a responsibility to help the state recover,” Biden told select officials and emergency responders at an afternoon conference in the New Mexico capital, where he reviewed efforts to combat the largest fire in the southwestern state in recorded history.

“Today I announce that it will cover 100% of federal spending,” the president said, although he said the previous day that some funds needed congressional approval.

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He said he saw the perimeter of the burned area “astonishingly” while flying to Santa Fe, adding that “we will respond and recover for you until my time is up.”

“It looks like a scene from the moon,” Biden said.

A senior executive, speaking anonymously, said Biden’s pledge was to approve 100% funding over the next 90 days for garbage disposal and emergency safety measures.

Shortly before he was expected to meet families who had lost their homes, Biden told staff at the Emergency Operations Center that he would support any congressional bill that would allow people to fully rebuild.

Driven by drought and wind, the fire has destroyed hundreds of homes in the mountains northeast of Santa Fe since two recommended burns were out of control by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in April. read more

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Air Force One circled around the fire damage in New Mexico, allowing Biden to see the burning forest and smoke from the sky before he landed and congratulating Governor Michael Lujan Grisham and other elected officials on his call for additional financial assistance from the federal government. .

Local officials told Pita that they did not have enough evidence to predict the weather or help the affected residents.

“Our citizens are tired and angry and fearful about the future they face,” said David Dye, secretary of the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

‘It was man-made’

The fire forced thousands of residents to evacuate Indo-Hispano farming villages, which have more than double the national poverty rate. The fire has raised these vulnerable economies where residents cut firewood and grow straw.

“It was not a natural disaster, it was man-made by a government agency,” said Ella Arelano, whose family lost hundreds of acres of forest around the village of Holman. “It’s a mess, a big mess, and it will take generations to recover from it.”

More than 320,000 acres (129,500 hectares) of mountains have been eroded by the Hermits Peak Golf Canyon – an area the size of Los Angeles – giving communities the opportunity to prepare for landslides, ash flows and flooding in areas that give them the same water absorption as wildlife. Asphalt.

So far, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided more than $ 3 million to more than 900 families. But the $ 40,000 FEMA pays for destroyed homes is sometimes not enough to cover the loss of burned farm equipment near homes, which can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per home.

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Another fire is burning in southwestern New Mexico, the second largest in state history, and climate change is intensifying the fire, threatening to engulf firefighters and eventually destroying most of the forest in the southwestern United States.

Investigators found that fires controlled by the Forest Service jumped out of bounds on April 6 to start the Hermits Peak fire. On April 19 the USFS Golf Canyon fire was caused by a pile of burnt trees and branches. On April 22 the two fires merged.

To prevent the spread of fire, land managers sometimes use controlled fires to cut down small trees, shrubs and other materials that can fuel wildfires. The Forest Service has called for a nationwide moratorium on implementation while reviewing practices. read more

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Reported by Andrew Hay in Davos, New Mexico and Trevor Hannigat in Santa Fe; Written by Michael Martina; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Jonathan Odyssey

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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