In November 2018, California residents' lives were turned upside down when raging wildfires took over the Golden State. Since then, individuals have been trying to pick their lives back up and recover from the devastation. Well unfortunately, Trump is threatening to cut FEMA funds in California — despite the fact that the state was slammed by devastating and deadly wildfires only three months ago.
On Wednesday, Jan. 9, Politico reported that President Donald Trump may order that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) cut off funds for forest fire relief in California, which suffered devastating fires in November 2018. That day, Trump also took to Twitter to discuss the "billions of dollars" spent on forest fire relief in California, in which he blasted the state for "not having their act together." This isn't the first time Trump has blamed the Golden State for the wildfires, having stated on Nov. 10, 2018, that "gross mismanagement of the forests" were to blame for the devastation. It's unclear what prompted the tweet and declaration on Jan. 9, or if the president had in fact canceled the distribution of FEMA funds. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment about the president's intent regarding possibly cutting FEMA funds in California, but did not hear back in time for publication.
On Jan. 9 he wrote,
Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!
Elite Daily reached out FEMA for comment on Trump's threats, but as the United States enters the 19th day of the partial government shutdown, FEMA is not able to respond to direct press inquiries. However, according to an automated reply, disaster relief funds that "directly apply to the protection of human life or the protection of property" will continue throughout the shutdown.
Per a FEMA data tracker, the agency had approved over $48 million in federal aid for some 6,600 individuals and families affected by the fires, a sizable sum but not approaching "billions." It is unclear when the tracker was last updated as due to the government shutdown the site is not being actively managed. It is also unclear if the president has the authority to rescind FEMA funds which have been approved, per The Washington Post, as guidelines for distributing funding after a disaster are outlined by law in the Stafford Act.
The 2018 California wildfires started late Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, spreading across both the north and south ends of California. These 2018 wildfires marked the deadliest forest fires in California history, with both the Camp Fire and Woolsey Fires taking numerous days to be fully contained. Since the destruction started, thousands of individuals had been displaced from their homes, and according to a Dec. 1, 2018 report from the San Francisco Chronicle the death toll from the fires amounted to 88 and the number of people missing dropped to 25.
Following the fires, Trump visited California town Paradise, which was severely impacted by the Camp Fire. During his visit, Trump observed the damages inflicted by the fire, and expressed his sympathy to those impacted by this tragedy. He said,
To see what's happened here — nobody would have ever thought this could have happened. The federal government is behind you, we're all behind each other. This is very sad to see. As far as the lives are concerned, nobody knows quite yet. Right now we want to take care of the people that are so badly hurt, the families where they've lost — a lot of people have been lost.
Of course, there's been no final say on whether the funds from FEMA will be cut off in California. However, in the meantime, here's how you can help those impacted by the devastating wildfires.