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Newhouse Supports Governor’s Federal Emergency Declaration Request for Additional Resources to Fight Wildfires

August 20, 2015
Press Release

SUNNYSIDE – Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA) sent a letter to President Obama supporting Governor Inslee’s request for a federal Emergency Declaration to secure additional resources to help cover the cost of wildfires burning in the state.

“Last year, Washington endured the worst fire in the state’s recorded history,” wrote Congressman Newhouse. “The Carlton Complex fire burned over 350,000 acres, numerous structures, and more than 300 homes in the counties of Okanogan and Chelan – receiving a major disaster declaration on August 11, 2014. Now the region is once again reeling from wildfire tragedy and we mourn the three firefighters that fell in the line of duty while battling the Twisp Fire in Okanogan County.”

Congressman Newhouse continued in the letter:

“Our communities in Central and Eastern Washington are resolute, resilient, and have come together during this difficult time to confront the many challenges facing them. However, help is needed as the current fires will only worsen what is already a perilous situation, with more and more homes being evacuated, families being displaced, and severe economic hardship expected in the aftermath.”

The federal assistance provided by an emergency declaration would make aid available to the State of Washington, non-profit organizations, and the impacted counties of Asotin, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Klickitat, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Skamania, and Yakima, as well as other eligible local jurisdictions. Additionally, there would be direct assistance from federal agencies and federal support for emergency protective measures and response efforts.

See below to read the entire text of the letter:

August 20, 2015
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I write today in support of the request for a Federal Emergency Declaration, submitted by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee on August 19, 2015, under the provisions of Section Emergency citation (501) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR §§ Emergency citation (206.35). This declaration would provide vital assistance to the eleven counties and four tribes currently affected or threatened by the devastating wildfires in Washington State. The people of Washington, who are once again enduring another catastrophic wildlife season, are in need of all the assistance that can be provided.

Last year, Washington endured the worst fire in the state’s recorded history. The Carlton Complex fire burned over 350,000 acres, numerous structures, and more than 300 homes in the counties of Okanogan and Chelan – receiving a major disaster declaration on August 11, 2014. Now the region is once again reeling from wildfire tragedy and we mourn the three firefighters that fell in the line of duty while battling the Twisp Fire in Okanogan County.

The current situation in Washington State is dire and the tragic loss of life is a sober reminder of the dangerous conditions facing many of our residents. On June 26, 2015, a State of Emergency was declared for all thirty-nine counties in Washington as we experienced extreme drought conditions and temperatures across the State. Already, more than fifty homes, sixty structures, and over 235,000 acres of land have been destroyed; while another 3,600 homes remain threatened and many families are displaced and in shelters. With the region expecting increased winds and low humidity in the coming days it is highly likely that these numbers will unfortunately rise.

The federal assistance provided by an emergency declaration would make aid available to the State of Washington, non-profit organizations, and the impacted counties of Asotin, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Klickitat, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Skamania, and Yakima, as well as other eligible local jurisdictions. Additionally, there would be direct assistance from federal agencies and federal support for emergency protective measures and response efforts, which will be critical in the days and weeks ahead.

Our communities in Central and Eastern Washington are resolute, resilient, and have come together during this difficult time to confront the many challenges facing them. However, help is needed as the current fires will only worsen what is already a perilous situation, with more and more homes being evacuated, families being displaced, and severe economic hardship expected in the aftermath.

Many of the current fires are the result of lightning strikes that occurred on August 6, 2015, when a low pressure system moved into the region. The National Weather Service outlook for the next several days shows that similar conditions are likely and that weather with extreme and high fire danger should be expected. This will only intensify the current crisis and increase the number of threatened communities, homes, and businesses in Central and Eastern Washington.

Due to the severity of the situation and the high probability of additional fire threats, I respectfully request a favorable response to the State of Washington’s request for a Federal Emergency Declaration.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter and consideration of this request.

Sincerely,



Dan Newhouse
Member of Congress

CC:
Secretary Jeh Johnson
Department of Homeland Security
301 7th Street SW
Washington, DC 20528

Administrator William Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20472

Regional Administrator Ken Murphy
Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 10
Bothell, WA 98102