Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday afternoon that after he spoke with President Donald Trump by phone, the president reversed his administration's decision and had approved an emergency disaster declaration for California after several wildfires burned more than a million acres and destroyed hundreds of structures since August.
"Just got off phone with @realDonaldTrump who has approved our Major Disaster Declaration request. Grateful for his quick response."
Thanks to the recent recession that had been sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, California was about to face a $54.3 billion projected deficit after previously projecting a nearly $6 billion surplus. In his request to the federal government, Newsom cited the state's waning economy as the reason for requesting federal aid.
On Thursday, the Trump administration rejected California's request for a disaster declaration after six enormous wildfires - including the largest in state history - burned more than a million acres across the state and destroyed hundreds of structures.
"The request for a Major Presidential Disaster Declaration for early September fires has been denied by the federal administration," Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson for the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, told CNN Thursday.
A disaster declaration from the federal government frees up money that can be used to cost-share for damage, cleanup and rebuilding areas affected by the wildfires. The declaration would also activate other programs that are led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. One state official told the L.A. Times that the amount of aid California would need following this year's fires wouldn't be known for some time and could easily reach in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The request came following a brutal fire season (that's still not over with yet), that included the Bobcat fire, San Bernardino County’s El Dorado fire, and the Creek fire. The largest fire in state history, the August Complex Fire, began on Aug. 16 and has burned more than 1 million acres since then. That fire is only 77% percent contained.
Previously, President Trump has threatened to withhold federal aid money from California, unless state officials got "their act together" which Trump stated was "unlikely."
Officials say that plan to appeal the Trump administration's decision. No specific reason for the denial was released by administration officials.
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