Brown appeals FEMA denial of more Rim Fire aid

Gov. Jerry Brown has sent a letter to President Barack Obama appealing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denial of a major-disaster declaration for the Rim Fire that devastated a swath of the Sierra Nevada this year.

“The Rim Fire ultimately burned 402 square miles over a period of 69 days, encompassing more than 257,314 acres; causing significant impacts to the State and to the affected local jurisdictions of such severity and magnitude that recovery efforts remain beyond our capabilities,” Brown wrote in the letter.

“In the aftermath of the fire, the State and its communities face infrastructure damage, significant negative economic impact, as well as complex and multifaceted environmental damages,” he wrote. “The burned area created an enormous potential for catastrophic flooding and debris runoff from winter storms.”

Brown sought a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration – which would trigger the release of federal funds to help communities recover – on Oct. 8, after declaring states of emergency in Tuolumne, Mariposa and San Francisco counties, but FEMA denied his request Nov. 4. Current estimates of the damage caused by the fire, which began in August and continued burning throughout October, now top $54 million.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.