Eighty-six Americans lost their lives last year in the Camp Fire, the largest and deadliest wildfire in California’s modern history. More than 11,000 people lived through the blaze but saw their homes destroyed. On Wednesday, President Donald Trump threatened to cut off relief for survivors and communities affected by that blaze, amid an ongoing political standoff with high-ranking California politicians.
“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money,” he said on Twitter. “It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”
It was not immediately clear whether Trump had actually stopped the funds from flowing. Neither the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) nor the Department of Homeland Security responded to repeated press calls on Wednesday. “Due to the federal funding hiatus, we are not able to respond to general press queries,” said an automated email reply from FEMA staff.
But if Trump does tamper with emergency relief, there is little doubt that Californians will feel the bite. FEMA has already approved almost $49 million in assistance for more than 6,600 individual projects across the state. And until Trump sent his tweet, that number seemed certain to grow. Many residents have yet to apply for aid, since FEMA’s deadline for new grant requests is January 31.