Immensely destructive SEEMS
Immensely destructive SEEMS
woefully inadequate to describe the scope of devastation from this fall’s set of catastrophic wildfires that have scorched more than 1.3 Million acres of the california landscape and sabotaged the lives of hundreds of thousands of golden state residents.
This week’s collection of raging blazes in Southern California alone cover more than a quarter of a million acres, with 9,000 firefighters combating the flames, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
They come on the heels of more than 250 fires in October and November that flared up across Northern California, causing more than $9.4 billion in damage and killing at least 44 people.
For those in the vortex of the conflagrations, the fires rage as a natural disaster on par with the destruction and mayhem wrought by some of this nation’s most ferocious hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and other climatological calamities.
Yet, the federal response has been far less than robust, many have rightly argued.
For example, it took a full week before the Trump administration finally responded last Friday with a federal disaster declaration for the affected California counties and their hundreds of thousands of displaced residents.
And last month, despite pleas from Democratic congressional representatives from California, the administration of President Donald J. Trump did not include one red cent for wildfire recovery in its $44 million federal disaster-aid package for victims of this year’s calamitous hits from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
‘’It’s appalling the White House is choosing to ignore the victims of California’s wildfires. The latest disaster supplemental request is a completely inadequate response to all of the recent natural disasters, but it’s particularly egregious that no money was included to help Californians rebuild,” Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris said in a shared statement.
The criticism mirrors that heard in late summer over the Republican administration’s inadequate and anemic response to the victims of Hurriane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Cynics would argue that both responses share a singularly similar trait. California and Puerto Rico are deep blue areas where Trump and other Republicans wield low levels of popular support.
In California, for example, Hillary Clinton won 62 percent of the state’s vote in 2016, the highest margin of victory for a Democrat candidate since Franklin D. Roosevelt won in a landslide there in 1936.
In those and other cases, there is no room for the politicization of disaster response. Hurricanes, tornadoes and yes, wildfires, do not discriminate on the basis of political allegiances.
We hope the administration’s tardy declaration of disaster and its relief package for victims of the ongoing blazes in California last week represents a turning point.
It should signal that federal relief and disaster-response agencies will no longer give even the appearance of using political loyalty tests as a prerequisite for fast, compassionate and adequate relief for those caught in the crosshairs of calamitous natural destruction.