Feds say no to individual assistance for victims of Washington wildfires; Inslee to appeal

Fire devastated the town of Pateros and other areas of  Okanogan County recently.

Fire devastated the town of Pateros and other areas of Okanogan County recently.

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday the federal government had denied the state’s request for individual emergency assistance to homeowners hurt by the central Washington fires. He said he would appeal the decision.

“Hundreds of individuals and families were dealt a significant blow by the state’s worst wildfire,” Inslee said in a news release. “These people are starting over. They need help with housing. They need help with basic necessities. The state is doing everything it can to ensure these families get the assistance they need to recover from the devastating fires, including federal assistance.”

The governor’s office said the assessed value of the destroyed properties in Okanogan County alone is estimated at more than $28 million. Combined, these fires have destroyed more than 300 homes, the office said.

The state has 30 days to file an appeal. During that time, teams from the state’s Emergency Management Department will return to central Washington to gather additional data to support the state’s request.

“We’re working w/ @fema to understand the reasoning & gathering more data to support our appeal,” Inslee tweeted later Tuesday.

Inslee’s “Major Disaster Declaration” request included requests for individual assistance as well as public assistance.

On Monday, the Obama administration approved Inslee’s request for public assistance for Okanogan County and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. The approval means federal reimbursement will be available for Okanogan County and the confederated Colville tribes for 75 percent of the costs of eligible expenses related to disaster-damaged facilities such as roads, bridges, and public utilities. Preliminary estimates show the fires caused approximately $35 million in infrastructure damages.





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