Lawmakers say total disaster costs are expected to top $1 billion
WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Oregon’s entire congressional delegation said Tuesday it is urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assume 100 percent of the cost share for debris removal and emergency protective measures from the wildfires that ripped through the state this year.
The letter to FEMA from Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Reps. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Greg Walden, Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader comes in support of a similar state cost-share request.
“As you saw when you toured the state with us earlier this year, wildfires have utterly decimated communities across Oregon,” the lawmakers wrote. “Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Emergency Management predict that total disaster costs will ultimately total more than $1 billion — a burden the state will be unable to shoulder in light of ongoing pandemic-related responses.”
The letter noted the damage assessment from the 2020 fire season in Oregon now exceeds the regulatory threshold for FEMA to support an increased federal cost share from 75 percent to 100 percent, and also that FEMA has regularly increased its cost share in past disasters.
“FEMA has authorized 90% cost share in more than 20 disasters since January 2017, including wildfires, and 100% cost share in 22 disasters during the same period,” the lawmakers wrote. “Indeed, the administration recently amended the Major Disaster Declaration for California to authorize 100% percent cost share for debris removal and emergency protective measures.”
A copy of the full letter is here.