N.M. Congressional Delegation Calls On President Biden To Grant State Request To Expand, Extend Assistance Under Disaster Declaration

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), and Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.) are calling on President Joe Biden to approve a request from Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to include flooding impacts in New Mexico’s disaster declaration for counties affected by wildfires and extend the duration of the state’s disaster declaration with 100% federal cost coverage.

In a letter to President Biden, the lawmakers write “Due to the urgency and severe needs of this crisis, we urge you to approve the State of New Mexico’s requests as quickly as possible. It is imperative that the federal government provides full support to New Mexican communities to recover from the devastating wildfires.”

The New Mexico Congressional Delegation is requesting that the Biden administration approve the state’s request to:

  • waive 100% of total eligible costs for the entire disaster period under DR-4652-NM;
  • extend the duration of New Mexico’s disaster declaration;
  • include coverage of flooding impacts in the disaster declaration;
  • amend the major disaster declaration to include Los Alamos and Sandoval counties as designated disaster areas; and
  • approve direct temporary housing assistance for residents displaced by the disaster.

The New Mexico Congressional Delegation was successful in their previous call for FEMA to cover 100% of costs for emergency protective work and debris removal under the declaration. This request goes further by urging FEMA to cover 100% of the total eligible costs under the declaration for the entire disaster period. 

Read the full text of the letter below or by clicking here.

Dear President Biden,

Thank you for issuing a major disaster declaration as a result of the ongoing wildfires burning in New Mexico since April 5, 2022. While federal assistance has significantly aided our communities, the State of New Mexico needs the federal government’s full support to recover from the devastation of the wildfires. As such, we write in support of the State’s request for the federal government to 1) waive 100% of total eligible costs for the entire disaster period under DR-4652-NM; 2) extend the duration of New Mexico’s disaster declaration; 3) include coverage of flooding impacts in the disaster declaration; 4) amend the major disaster declaration to include Los Alamos and Sandoval counties as designated disaster areas; and 5) approve direct temporary housing assistance for residents displaced by the disaster.

Since April 5, 2022, wildfires related to DR-4652-NM have burned over 340,000 acres, forced thousands of New Mexicans to evacuate their homes and businesses, caused multiple fatalities, and destroyed over 900 structures – many in which residents and families had lived for generations. Much of the destruction has occurred in rural, high, and persistent poverty rate communities that simply cannot afford to take on the economic strain imposed by the wildfires. Given the severity and life and death nature of this crisis, we urge you to act without delay and approve the State of New Mexico’s request to provide 100 percent coverage of federal assistance for the entire disaster period and extend the duration of the disaster declaration beyond the initially approved 90 day period.

Additionally, New Mexico communities affected by the disaster are now facing potentially exacerbated risks of flooding and post fire debris flows. New Mexico’s monsoon season, which occurs from June through September on an annual basis has already led to flash floods and substantial precipitation events, including in the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon burn scar and the McBride burn scar in Lincoln County. The same communities that continue to recover from the initial impact of the disaster are now threatened by worsening monsoon rains and facing the potential for even more catastrophic damages. For these reasons, we urge you to approve the State of New Mexico’s request to include flooding impacts in the disaster declaration. 

The State of New Mexico has also submitted requests to FEMA amend the major disaster declaration to include Los Alamos and Sandoval counties as designated disaster areas, and to provide temporary housing assistance to homeowners or renters to rent a temporary place to live if their home is unlivable due to the disaster. Due to the urgency and severe needs of this crisis, we urge you to approve the State of New Mexico’s requests as quickly as possible. It is imperative that the federal government provides full support to New Mexican communities to recover from the devastating wildfires.

Thank you for your consideration to this important request.

Sincerely,