Gov. Lujan Grisham secures extension of federal disaster declaration
SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced on Monday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has granted her request to extend the duration of New Mexico’s disaster declaration as monsoon season floods continue to impact New Mexicans in wildfire burn scar areas.
The extension comes after Gov. Lujan Grisham directly requested that President Joe Biden direct FEMA to extend the duration of the state’s disaster declaration, reiterating a request initially made by the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in early July. The Presidential Disaster Declaration for New Mexico counties affected by wildfires was originally granted in May for a duration of 90 days – the state requested an extension due to the continued expending of resources to fight fire, mitigate flood impacts in post-fire debris flows, and maintain response capability during the ongoing wildfire and monsoon seasons. The disaster declaration will now be in effect through September 6, 2022.
The governor has also requested that FEMA continue to cover 100% of the total eligible costs under the now-extended duration of the disaster declaration – that request is outstanding. New Mexicans impacted by wildfires or flooding, mudflow, and debris flow damage in burn scar areas can apply for assistance through September 6, 2022 by registering with FEMA at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362).
Gov. Lujan Grisham has also requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture provide funds to New Mexico ranchers, farmers, and landowners impacted by wildfires, including those fires caused by federal planned burns.
In a direct letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Gov. Lujan Grisham requested that the federal department provide funds to New Mexico producers and landowners to purchase feed and complete infrastructure repairs, noting that the areas impacted by the federally-caused Hermit’s Peak and Calf Canyon fires include over 341,000 acres home to over 6,000 head of livestock and thousands of acres of managed forest land used for grazing.
“While USDA has disaster programs available, these programs are taking far too long to access and will not cover 100 percent of producer and landowner losses,” the governor writes. “These producers and landowners cannot and should not be required to fill gaps in federal support with loan programs and pay interest on loans they did not require until the federally-caused fire.”
Gov. Lujan Grisham continues: “It is critical that USDA fulfill the commitments made to our communities, including our farmers and ranchers, to cover one hundred percent of the costs to make these producers and landowners whole. This may include providing resources for several years as the burn scars in impacted areas are rehabilitated.”
The governor’s request to the USDA is the latest aspect of her continued efforts to secure federal relief and support for New Mexicans in the wake of the two largest fires in New Mexico history. Last week the governor secured both the addition of flooding impacts to the state’s federal disaster declaration as well as the launch of additional housing assistance for New Mexicans affected by wildfires. In addition to seeking 100% federal cost coverage for the extended period, the state has remaining outstanding requests to the federal government regarding adding Los Alamos and Sandoval counties to the state’s disaster declaration, as well as the retroactive extension of the use of Non-Congregate Sheltering and expediting the removal of debris and hazardous waste.
See the governor’s letter to Sec. Vilsack here.