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Obama denies Arizona's request for federal disaster relief funds

Obama denies Arizona's request for federal disaster relief funds

By Rikki Mitchell. CREATED Aug 9, 2013

PHOENIX (KGUN9-TV) - Governor Brewer's Office says they received word late Friday that the Obama Administration denied the state's request for a federal Major Disaster Declaration in response to the Yarnell Hill Fire.

Nineteen firefighters died June 30 while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire. The fire burned 109 structures and homes in the small town.

Governor Brewer issued this statement: 

"I am deeply troubled by the Obama Administration's decision to deny much-needed recovery assistance in the wake of Arizona's deadliest wildfire. This designation would have provided critical aid to citizens most impacted by the fire.

 "The State of Arizona continues to mourn this tragedy, which took the lives of nineteen of our bravest first responders. While no amount of federal assistance could ever ease the pain of such an extraordinary loss, it would have provided significant financial relief to Yarnell and Peeples Valley. Local residents are under enough emotional stress as they work to pick up the pieces and put their communities back together. Wondering how or if they will recover their losses should be the last of their worries.

"In the days after the fire, I appreciated the call I received from President Obama, during which he pledged to support our state during its time of great need. I was even more encouraged when Vice President Biden reiterated that commitment at the memorial service for the fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots. With today's denial of the state's request, Arizonans are left questioning what help they were willing to give.

"I was hopeful the federal government would recognize the exceptionally devastating circumstances surrounding this tragedy, and support Arizona's request.

"The State will review its options regarding an appeal of this misguided decision. We will continue to do everything in our power to assist in that effort. Rest assured, that is a pledge that will not be broken."

Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake also released a statement Friday saying:

"We are disappointed that FEMA denied the Governor's disaster declaration request for the Yarnell Hill Fire. The people of Yarnell waited a full month to receive word that federal assistance is not coming. It is a shame that FEMA couldn't find it within their mission to help rebuild their homes and lives.

We will discuss this matter with the Governor and begin exploring with her options for appealing this decision."

Rikki Mitchell

Rikki Mitchell

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Rikki Mitchell is a proud University of Arizona grad and joined the KGUN9 team after graduation. Rikki reports as a video journalist for the evening and weekend newscasts.