McCain, Flake press for fed disaster declaration for Yarnell
U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake released this statement Friday regarding the announcement that the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied Gov. Jan Brewer's request for a federal disaster declaration for the Yarnell Hill Fire:
We are disappointed that FEMA denied the governor's disaster declaration request for the Yarnell Hill Fire. The people of Yarnell waited a full month to receive word that federal assistance is not coming. It is a shame that FEMA couldn't find it within their mission to help rebuild their homes and lives.
We will discuss this matter with the Governor and begin exploring with her options for appealing this decision.
McCain and Flake wrote to President Barack Obama repeating their request that he issue a federal disaster declaration for the Yarnell Hill Fire. The letter, as released by McCain's office:
Dear Mr. President:
One month ago today, the Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, requested a federal disaster declaration for the Yarnell Hill Fire in Yavapai County, Arizona. As you know, this was the wildfire that killed 19 wildland firefighters who sacrificed their lives defending this community. Despite the severity of this disaster and its impact on real families, the gears of the bureaucratic machine have seemingly ground to a halt while your administration evaluates the merits of the Governor's request. The time for such deliberation has ended; the people of Arizona deserve a response.
Given the thorough evaluation made by state emergency management officials and the national media's coverage of the historic scale of this natural disaster, we feel compelled to write this second correspondence demanding expedited consideration. Your delay is inexplicable and unacceptable.
A total of 109 homes were destroyed by the fire. This accounts for about 20 percent of all the homes in the unincorporated rural community of Yarnell, Arizona. While the families touched by this tragedy seek to recover, they now find themselves bracing for further destruction at the hands of Arizona's monsoons. In light of this pending exigency, we encourage you to give particularly prompt consideration to the Governor's specific request for a Burn Area Emergency Response team to prepare the community for post-wildfire flooding conditions.
As mentioned, we previously wrote asking that you consider this matter swiftly. On behalf of this community, we respectfully repeat our request today and ask for a response.
We once again reiterate the importance of you moving forward on this disaster declaration request.