President Donald Trump approved a declaration of a state of emergency in California on Friday, ordering federal assistance in response to multiple wildfires that broken out since December 4 and continue to cause massive damage in the state.
This declaration allows the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “to coordinate all disaster relief efforts,” according to a White House statement on the declaration.
The statement continued:
This action will help alleviate the hardship and suffering that the emergency may inflict on the local population, and provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.
FEMA now has the authority to “identify, mobilize, and provide, at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.”
“Emergency protective measures, limited to direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding,” according to the statement.
Mark Armstrong has been named federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations for the fire-ravaged areas.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) released a statement about Trump’s decision:
I applaud the Trump Administration’s swift approval of the state’s emergency declaration request. As our fellow citizens and first responders continue to fight these tragic fires and take the first steps to recover and rebuild I will work with federal, state, and local officials to ensure federal resources are available and provided for our neighbors in need.
At least ten fires are specifically identified on a CalFire map of southern California. Some of those have been partially contained, while most have not.
Footage shared from the scene of the Lilac fire, near Murrieta in San Diego County, showed airplanes performing daring maneuvers to drop fire retardant on the flames.
Updates, including evacuations, can be found on the CalFire incident information webpage.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.