Cantwell Statement on Presidential Disaster Declaration for Areas Affected By Wildfires

Senator: Declaration means ‘much-needed relief for communities suffering though the worst wildfire season in Washington state history’

SEATTLE – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s approval of disaster assistance to the governments of Okanogan County and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation to help cover costs from fighting wildfires and replacing or repairing fire-damaged infrastructure.

“This declaration means much-needed relief for communities that are suffering through the worst wildfire season in Washington state history,” Cantwell said. “I’d like to thank Secretary Johnson and President Obama for their quick review of the state’s request to reimburse local governments for the costs of wildfire response. Last week, I met with residents, first responders, local officials and business owners in Pateros, Twisp, Okanogan and other communities.  I saw and heard how these wildfires have destroyed hundreds of homes, affected farmland, knocked out power and water, and caused immense economic damage during a time this region usually bustles with tourists. I will remain in contact with federal, state and local officials to ensure these communities get the assistance they need.”‎

Cantwell signed a letter with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Reps. Doc Hastings (R-WA-04) and Dave Reichert (R-WA-08) urging President Obama to quickly approve the governor’s request for federal disaster aid. On August 7, Cantwell attended a roundtable in Wenatchee with first responders, businesses and community leaders about the effects of this year’s wildfires and what resources are needed to help communities in Chelan and Douglas Counties recover.

On August 4, Cantwell and Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA-04) joined Pateros Mayor Pro-tem George Brady for a tour areas affected by the wildfire.  They also traveled to Alta Lake to survey damage and meet with residents who lost homes and property. They also visited the Omak Fire Camp at the Okanogan Fairgrounds to be briefed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Washington state Department of Natural Resources. They were joined by Okanogan County commissioners and Okanogan Public Utility District commissioners. On Sunday, Cantwell visited a fire camp in Okanogan and met with local officials in Twisp.