Brewer appeals disaster denial for Yarnell fire - Dallas News |

Brewer appeals disaster denial for Yarnell fire


Governor Jan Brewer is refusing to take "no" for an answer. FEMA rejected her request for federal money to help homeowners after the Yarnell fire.

Wednesday, she appealed that decision in a letter to President Obama.

Everyone agrees the Yarnell Hill Fire was a terrible tragedy. But FEMA denied federal aid to homeowners because only nine homes were uninsured out of 108 that were destroyed.

The feds say the state can take care of people in need. But the governor says that's wrong.

FEMA says when it comes to property loss, the Yarnell Hill Fire did not qualify for a major disaster declaration like Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy.

And the state of Arizona can take care of people in need in Yarnell. But the governor says FEMA underestimated the damage.

"I think there are more houses, more structures that have been destroyed, we know that the water system is going to cost us a lot more money, we know that there are far more people underinsured than we originally had thought. We know there are people completely totally uninsured and given the dynamics of the rural area on which they live, it is a complete and total different perspective," said Brewer.

Congressman Paul Gosar, who represents the Yarnell area, said FEMA should look past its disaster requirements.

"I think that's what laws were built for, for exceptions to those rules -- the smaller application to a smaller community," said Rep. Paul Gosar, Arizona Republican.

FEMA issued this statement Wednesday afternoon: "The damage to uninsured private residences was not beyond the capabilities of State/Local Governments and voluntary agencies."

Although FEMA denied the aid request for people who lost their homes in the Yarnell fire, it has agreed to pay money to help defray the costs of fighting the fire.

But the governor is convinced the feds should do more.

"We believe, by the new facts we have in the letter, they need to review and reconsider their help and do their job, of which we were all pledged by the president and vice president when the disaster took place," said Brewer.

The appeal from the governor was sent to President Obama and FEMA regional administrator Nancy Ward in Oakland, California.

There is no indication whether there will be any response from FEMA beyond the short statement we received.

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