POLITICS

Trump Approves Major Disaster Declaration For California As Deadly Wildfires Rage On

Days earlier, the president had blamed California for the fires and threatened to cut off federal funding.

President Donald Trump has approved a major disaster declaration for California, unlocking funds and other resources from federal agencies to help the tens of thousands of people affected by the deadly wildfires raging in the state. 

“Wanted to respond quickly in order to alleviate some of the incredible suffering going on,” Trump wrote in a Monday tweet. “I am with you all the way.” 

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) had requested the declaration on Sunday as the record-breaking Camp fire incinerated swaths of Butte County in Northern California and the Woolsey and Hill fires continued to burn in Southern California.

At least 42 people have died in the blazes. 

In his request to Trump, Brown described the “extraordinary” devastation the fires have wreaked. “We know tens of thousands of residents will be displaced and many will be left homeless,” he wrote in his letter to the president.

A major disaster declaration will help Californians hurt by the fires get access to additional federal resources, including housing, unemployment assistance and crisis counseling. The declaration will also help state and local governments with their ongoing emergency and recovery efforts.

Brown’s request had come a day after Trump posted a Twitter message in which he blamed the wildfires on California’s “gross mismanagement of the forests” and threatened to cut off federal funding to the state.

The president’s assessment was lambasted by state officials and fire experts as “uninformed” and “dangerously wrong.” The governor’s office dismissed the president’s tweet as “inane.”   

The fires, experts pointed out, have been fueled by dry conditions and extreme winds, and the conditions have been exacerbated by climate change.

Additionally, most of the lands affected by the wildfires were managed by the federal government. The Woolsey fire did not start on forested land.

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