Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham arrives by helicopter Wednesday in Jemez Springs. Photo by Glen Thamert
FROM THE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday submitted a request to President Joe Biden and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for New Mexico as a result of widespread wildfire activity across the state. Gov. Lujan Grisham has declared states of emergency under her authority in Colfax, Lincoln, Mora, Sandoval, San Miguel, and Valencia counties due to wind-fueled wildfire activity.
“The state has aggressively pursued a Presidential Disaster Declaration for New Mexico, using every available tool and technology to document the damage that we know New Mexico communities have sustained and are still experiencing in order to expedite the process,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “I am laser focused on getting New Mexicans the disaster relief they need and deserve, and I am confident that FEMA and the President will grant our request.”
While requesting a Presidential Disaster Declaration is typically a lengthy process that often only begins weeks after the conclusion of a natural disaster, the governor and state officials have been working diligently with federal authorities to expedite the filing process for a Presidential Disaster Declaration, using science and data to show how these fires were so dramatically affected and increased by a statewide windstorm in order to more rapidly meet the required financial threshold for damage and enable federal assistance to be available to New Mexicans more quickly.
The governor’s request for a disaster declaration includes both Individual Assistance and Public Assistance for New Mexicans and local governments affected by wildfires.
Relief requested by the governor in the form of Individual Assistance includes:
- Housing Assistance
- Crisis Counseling
- Disaster Unemployment
- Disaster Case Management
- Disaster Legal Services
- Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
- Child Care Assistance
- SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The state’s request for Public Assistance from FEMA includes Category A, debris removal, and Category B, Emergency Protective Measures, in addition to a request for Direct Federal Assistance. The FEMA Public Assistance Program provides supplemental grants to state, tribal, territorial, and local governments, as well as certain types of private non-profits, to quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies. Categories A and B are categorized as emergency work that must be completed within six months.
Upon declaration being granted, FEMA will deploy staff to New Mexico to administer the federal assistance programs and support assistance delivery. The application process for New Mexicans eligible for Individual Assistance through FEMA will open following the expected approval of the governor’s request for a disaster application, at which time the state will advise New Mexicans in affected counties how to apply for federal relief. Affected New Mexicans are strongly urged to wait to submit claims for Individual Assistance to FEMA until the disaster declaration is approved in order to ensure they are properly classified under an approved disaster declaration.
Gov. Lujan Grisham has also requested Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grant funding for the state to implement additional actions the reduced or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from future disasters.