SANTA FE, N.M. ( Associated Press) — A New Mexico congressional delegation is urging the U.S. government to change proposed rules for processing damage claims from a historic wildfire initiated by forest managers.
The delegation sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Thursday as the federal agency prepares to close public comments on the rules. The delegation noted that in contrast to a prosperous part of New Mexico that was devastated by government-initiated wildfires in 2000, this area of northern New Mexico is more rural, has higher rates of poverty, and Spanish speakers. has a high percentage of ,
The delegation noted that many residents are recovering from the emotional, financial and physical damage caused by the Hermit Mountain and Calf Canyon fires and that post-fire flooding has become a serious concern for mountain regions.
“By providing comprehensive guidance and connecting claimants early in the process, FEMA can ensure that applicants have the resources they need to help them quickly and accurately assess damages and proceed as authorized by Congress.” necessary repairs to be made to receive compensation.” Wrote the delegation.
The US Congress has so far approved nearly $4 billion for victims of the 2022 fires, and state officials acknowledge the recovery process will be long and challenging.
The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office has also called for changes to the proposed rules. Then-Attorney General Hector Balderas, whose term expired in December, expressed concern about the extent of the damages, the lack of a clear appeals process, and the lack of people to lead the team overseeing the application process.
In their letter, federal senators Ben Ray Lujan and Martin Heinrich and members of the lower house Teresa Leger Fernandez, Melanie Stansbury and Gabe Vasquez highlighted the factors that determine compensation for the replacement of destroyed trees and other green areas before they can be valued. to 25%. Fire. He pointed out that this does not take into account the amount of damage or the effort required to repair the damage.
Their letter reads, “It is critical that sufficient resources are devoted to restoring the environment and livelihoods of those affected.”