ALBUQUERQUE, NM ( Associated Press) — U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday authorized an increase in funding for debris removal and other emergency measures as a result of a historic wildfire season in New Mexico, partly to begin with federal Stems wrongly by forest managers. set burn.
The additional funding comes through a revised disaster declaration signed by the president that calls for increasing direct federal aid to 100% of total qualified costs for 90 days following the declaration.
The wildfires still smoldering in the Rocky Mountain foothills of northern New Mexico this spring became the largest in the US after two planned government burns in April to reduce the risk of wildfires.
The US Forest Service acknowledged in a recent report that managers underestimated how dry things have become in the Southwest. Modeling and training need to be improved in the last two decades and taking into account the extreme conditions.
Thousands of residents have been displaced by the fire, hundreds of homes have been destroyed and now officials are warning of a flood after the fire.
Burns have been hit by rain in both New Mexico and neighboring Arizona in recent days as the southwest region sees a strong start to the monsoon season.
Scott Stern, a meteorologist assigned to major fires in New Mexico, said Monday that parts of the fire received 3 inches (7.62 cm) of rain over the past three days – which spans more than 533 square miles (1380 sq mi) . kilometer) Sangre de Cristo mountain range.
Stern said runoff is more likely now that soil is saturated and vegetation is moist.
“We really can’t do much with more moisture at this point in time,” he said during a briefing. “The good thing so far on the event that we have a fairly long period of humidity and it’s always good to keep (relative humidity) high, which really helps us in terms of fuel conditions.”
The federal government has been heavily criticized for causing the largest wildfire in New Mexico, with some residents saying they have been whisked through a bureaucratic maze as they seek reimbursement for their losses.
Biden swore during a visit earlier this month That the federal government would cover the full cost of emergency response and debris removal, a responsibility previously shared with the state government.
So far, more than $3.5 million in aid has been approved for housing and other needs for residents, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The agency is also considering disaster requests for several other states from Minnesota to Tennessee due to wildfires, tornadoes and flooding since late April.
Scientists and government officials have warned of more severe weather as the world continues to warm. In the United States, there have been 20 weather or climate disasters in the past year, with more than $1 billion in damages annually.According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In southwestern New Mexico, half an inch of rain has fallen each day, halting efforts to rehabilitate fire lines around a massive fire that has burned through the rugged Black Range.
Parts of northern Arizona, where a series of wildfires burned homes and forced evacuations in recent months, saw flooding over the weekend as storms brought rain, hail and wind. The National Weather Service reported that some roads in the Flagstaff area were closed as creeks were filled with storm surge.