The presidential action Wednesday makes federal money available for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help residents and business owners recover, the declaration states.
“In California and the Southwest, conditions were dry during the past week with strong winds observed across the region,” it said. “The windy, dry conditions exacerbated fire-weather conditions in Arizona and New Mexico where several large early-season wildfires are currently impacting the region.”
New Mexico saw the largest increase in the two worst categories of drought — extreme and exceptional — adding to the worst designations more than 14,000 square miles, an area about twice the size of New Jersey. April’s fire weather conditions were the worst in the state in more than a decade, even ahead of its typically most active wildfire months of May, June and July, Miller said.
Disaster order could help watershed recovery
“I have 6,000 people evacuated,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Tuesday. “I have families who don’t know what the next day looks like. I have families who are trying to navigate their children, their own health care resources, figure out their livelihoods, and they’re in every single little community.”
A presidential disaster declaration would unlock resources “for watershed recovery, restoration of all of those wildlands and personal direct financial reparation and assistance before the fire is out,” she said.
Under the order, officials and nonprofits also are eligible for help paying for emergency measures, including evacuation shelters, and hazard mitigation statewide, the declaration states. People in Colfax, Lincoln, Mora, San Miguel and Valencia counties can apply.
The Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire has destroyed 172 homes in Mora and San Miguel counties, officials said Tuesday. The area includes the New Mexico city of Las Vegas, about 85 miles northeast of Albuquerque.
It is “a long-term event,” officials in the two counties said. “We don’t anticipate having ‘control’ of this fire any time soon.”
CNN’s Gregory Lemos, Theresa Waldrop, Nikki Carvajal and Monique Smith contributed to this report