President Obama declares wildfire disaster

OKANOGAN — The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced today that federal disaster aid will be available to state, tribal and local governments affected by wildfires from July 9 to Aug. 5.

The disaster declaration by President Barack Obama means the federal government will pay at least 75 percent of the eligible costs incurred by state, county, city and the Colville Confederated Tribes in the effort to fight the Carlton Complex fires. Certain non-profit organizations are also eligible.

“This is great news,” said Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers, who requested the disaster relief.

“Getting the federal assistance is huge.”

Rogers said in his department alone, the federal aid will help pay for things like overtime of his deputies, and extra hours on his vehicles.

He said in just 12 days of July, his officers put in between $35,000 and $40,000 worth of overtime. That’s about one-quarter of the overtime budgeted for the year.

Several other government entities, including the Okanogan County Health District, public works department, public utilities and local cities, will also benefit from the declaration, he said.

Rogers said a separate application was made for federal assistance to individuals who lost homes, buildings and infrastructure like fencing. No decision has been made on that assistance.


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