Petition to Biden pleads for FEMA assistance for Caldor Fire victims

Thomas Frey
Mountain Democrat

More than 700 people have signed a petition that will be sent to President Joe Biden, pleading with him to grant Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance money to the people of Grizzly Flat who lost their homes in the Caldor Fire last year.

On social media El Dorado County officials shared a link to its iPetitions online campaign Monday, asking residents to join the effort.

“Nearly 40% of these families did not have homeowners insurance or were underinsured for a catastrophic event like the Caldor Fire due to the exorbitant cost of fire insurance in our region,” reads the petition, which can be found at

The Caldor Fire forced more than 50,000 people to evacuate their homes and destroyed more than 1,000 structures, most of which were homes. Many families with children and senior citizens are now homeless, notes the petition.

“I know first hand how desperate the neighbors in Grizzly Flat are,” states El Dorado County Supervisor Wendy Thomas in a comment on the iPetition webpage. “The entire community was destroyed … They have nothing to rebuild their lives and we need you to overturn FEMA’s decision and provide individual assistance.”

On Sept. 2 Biden authorized FEMA funds to California to supplement response efforts due to the emergency conditions.

Less than two weeks later Biden visited the area and met with El Dorado County Chief Administrative Officer Don Ashton, where he told him people affected by the fire would receive FEMA individual assistance, according to the petition.

But in October El Dorado County officials found out they were denied that individual assistance.

The denial letter sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom explained that while damage to infrastructure was “significant,” FEMA officials determined impacts on residents and households were “not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of individual assistance.”

FEMA decisions have been overturned in the past. The petition notes that FEMA also denied assistance to the victims of the 2018 Camp Fire before that decision was overturned by then President Donald Trump.

“We believe El Dorado County deserves no less than the assistance provided to other areas that so desperately needed help,” states the petition.

Owners of cabins built on U.S. Forest Service land are also being denied funds needed for post-fire cleanup. Fire cleanups on Forest Service lands have previously been paid for using federal funds but owners of cabins burned by the Caldor Fire “will be paying more than $50,000 to clean up a site that has no guarantee of being allowed to re-build, regardless of their insurance coverage,” the petition continues.

The petition closes by pointing out that individual assistance was granted to the people affected by hurricanes in Kentucky and the fires in Colorado and that El Dorado County humbly asks for the same assistance.

“You are our last hope — the only person who can help relieve the pain of the survivors of this terrible and tragic event,” the petition concludes.

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