President OKs more federal aid to Rim Fire areas

Chalk up a victory for Gov. Jerry Brown: It looks as if his appeal to President Obama for more federal aid to parts of Tuolumne County that were devastated by the Rim Fire has borne fruit.

The president today declared a major disaster exists in California and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area that was affected by the epic blaze from Aug. 17 through Oct. 24. This federal funding will be available to aid state and local governments and certain private nonprofits on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and repair or replacement of damaged facilities.

Brown first sought such a declaration on Oct. 8, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied his request on Nov. 4, so the governor appealed on Dec. 3 with new damage estimates and details. It’s now estimated that the fire caused more than $54 million in damages.

“This is welcome news for those impacted by this devastating wildfire, and I’m thankful for FEMA’s careful reconsideration of the Governor’s request,” Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said in a news release. “Even though the fire is out, the impacts to the local economy, environment and region haven’t gone away. We look forward to FEMA’s assistance in the important recovery work that has been underway since October.”

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.