Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Guardian view on federal response to California wildfires: A long road | Editorial

Sure, federal funding for fighting catastrophic fires could use some tweaking. There were plenty of missteps in the response to the Carr fire in Shasta County, California, earlier this month. But the primary reason, it seems, for sending some $2.6m to Shasta and the towns surrounding it was not for fighting the fire but for getting FEMA to make a $220m “delivery” of assistance funds to Shasta.

According to the Shasta Guardian, that’s right: the actual $220m will be used to support relief for people whose homes were reduced to rubble in the Carr fire. A county official said that the county cabinet discussed the possibility of sending the money after the Carr fire started and settled on this plan.

Be sensitive about how you write this.

It looks like a lot of money for responding to a very minor fire. The Guardian reports that the federal government actually paid about $22.2m to the state of California for firefighting against the Carr fire. The $220m comes to about $1,350 per person impacted by the fire. In comparison, according to the National Fire Protection Association, the average household income in Shasta County in 2017 was just $52,478.

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