Tester, Baucus to FEMA: When Montana calls, provide assistance quickly

Agency and state officials will conduct damage assessment on Monday

(BOZEMAN, Mont.) – Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus are calling on FEMA to be ready to help Montanans recover from this summer’s destructive wildfires.

FEMA and state officials will conduct a preliminary damage assessment on Monday of the Ash Creek Fire.  The fire, which is now completely contained, burned 250,000 acres and destroyed numerous homes and properties east of Lame Deer.

Once the preliminary assessment is complete, state officials will decide whether to request federal disaster assistance from FEMA.  If the state moves forward as expected, Tester and Baucus are making sure the agency is ready to help Montanans in their time of need.

“Should the damage exceed the ability of the State of Montana to fund the recovery, we expect that the state will request federal disaster assistance,” Tester and Baucus wrote FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.  “We urge FEMA to move quickly and grant a presidential disaster declaration if needed.”

Tester and Baucus told Fugate that the fires raging across southeastern Montana have burned more than 300,000 acres and caused extensive losses to telephone and electricity services.  They have also destroyed property on local farms and ranches, worsening the impact of the region’s drought.

Tester and Baucus announced earlier this week that they successfully cut through red tape to help Montana’s farmers and ranchers cope with drought and wildfires by more easily accessing emergency disaster assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Only a state’s governor can request federal disaster assistance from FEMA.  Federal assistance can include added personnel, equipment, housing and technical assistance, and low-interest loans.

Tester’s and Baucus’ letter to FEMA Administrator Fugate is available online HERE.