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Public Statements

Letter to Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency - Calling on FEMA to Provide Disaster Assistance to Montanans

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Big Sandy, MT

Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus are calling on FEMA to quickly provide federal disaster assistance to Montanans affected by the Ash Creek Fire.

In calling for prompt action, Tester and Baucus highlighted Montanans' heroic efforts to recover from the fire.

"Montanans rally together in times of emergency, and though state, tribal and community officials are doing everything they can, they simply cannot bear this burden alone," Tester and Baucus wrote FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "Public assistance for Rosebud and Powder River Counties, and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, is urgently needed to mitigate further damage, and to help our communities get back on their feet."

The Ash Creek Fire burned nearly 400 square miles and destroyed 40 structures, including 11 homes, across southeast Montana. Tester and Baucus said that damage to public infrastructure from the Ash Creek Fire is estimated to be more than $1.6 million.

Governor Brian Schweitzer formally requested federal assistance earlier this week for Powder River and Rosebud Counties, as well as the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

Tester and Baucus alerted FEMA earlier this month to the possibility of Montana submitting a disaster assistance request, saying FEMA must "move quickly and grant a presidential disaster declaration if needed."

FEMA and state officials conducted a preliminary damage assessment of the fire earlier this month. The assessment found widespread damage and loss of public and private property, including homes, farmland, electric utilities, and tribally owned facilities.

Montana's record-setting wildfires have burned more than 500,000 acres so far this year. Official wildfire season does not start until August 1.

Tester and Baucus recently secured emergency haying and grazing resources for farmers and ranchers recovering from drought and wildfire and cut through red tape to increase USDA disaster assistance.

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July 26, 2012

The Honorable W. Craig Fugate
Administrator
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20472

Dear Administrator Fugate:

We write in support of the State of Montana's request for disaster assistance as a result of the Ash Creek fire that caused extensive damage to public infrastructure throughout Rosebud and Powder River Counties, as well as the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

Though the state received additional firefighting resources for the Ash Creek fire through a Fire Management Assistance Grant, a recent Public Assistance Preliminary Damage Assessment indicates that these resources were not enough to prevent significant damage to public infrastructure. We appreciate your efforts and the work of FEMA's Region VIII office to send an assessment team to the state as promptly as you did. The team found widespread damage and loss of public and private property, including homes, farmland, electric utilities, and tribally-owned facilities.

The total amount in public assistance damages for Rosebud and Powder River Counties, and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation is estimated to be $1.62 million. This far exceeds the ability of our state and local governments to address the damages incurred, and to meet the urgent and ongoing needs of our communities.

Montanans rally together in times of emergency, and though state, tribal and community officials are doing everything they can, they simply cannot bear this burden alone. Public Assistance for Rosebud and Powder River Counties, and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, is urgently needed to mitigate further damage, and to help our communities get back on their feet.

Thank you very much for your attention to this request. We look forward to working with you on this important issue.

Sincerely,
(s)
Jon Tester and Max Baucus


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