But we can send money to Al Queda in Syria!!
Brewer: Federal assistance denied for Yarnell fire
Posted: Aug 09, 2013 7:57 PM CDTUpdated: Aug 09, 2013 11:11 PM CDTBy FOX 10 News - Staff Report

PHOENIX -Arizona, rejected by the feds. Friday night, we learned the request for federal money to help rebuild the town destroyed by fire was denied.

It's not the news the people of Yarnell wanted to hear. They are still reeling from the devastation left behind from the Yarnell Hill Fire.

And it was just a few days ago, Governor Jan Brewer personally asked President Obama to secure federal aid.

They were face to face on the tarmac at Sky Harbor. That was where she reminded the president about her request for federal funds. Specifically, to help the victims in Yarnell rebuild their homes. She got her answer. No!

We spoke to the governor by phone and she made it clear she wasn't happy with the decision.

"The fact of the matter is, when he called me, when the tragedy all happened up there, he said they would be there for us, do whatever they could and I took that to mean they're going to step up and do their job," said Brewer.

Governor Brewer says after the vice president came out for the funerals of the 19 firefighters killed, and the president promised to do what he could to help, pulling the plug on aid seems cruel.

"I'm sure when he was talking to me on the tarmac he probably knew then but didn't want to ruin his campaign-style speech… It is very disappointing and devastating news for the people of Yarnell."

But the people of Yarnell are hardly alone in being denied federal disaster aid. FEMA denied benefits to the town of West, Texas after a fertilizer plant explosion in April nearly leveled the town. FEMA later relented and provided money.
Assistance was also denied to victims of the black forest fire in Colorado Springs in June.

Governor Brewer may appeal.

"We will move forward and try to review all our options in regards to appealing this terrible decision that has been made."

We asked: "You were critical of his visit here and he was taking credit for the housing recovery. Do you think any of your critical comments may have pushed him in a direction to not help?"

"There are certain things that don't get political, they're for the best for the community, state, best for the country and I would like to believe that he would believe that also," said Brewer.

The governor is obviously not happy with the decision. What are the people of Yarnell saying tonight?

This was not unexpected. Residents say they were warned early on that FEMA aid would likely not be available. Of the 134 homes lost in Yarnell, 9 were uninsured primary residences.

The county emergency manager estimates the average uninsured person would have received $24,000 from FEMA to help rebuild.

In a letter to the governor, the FEMA administrator said "state, local communities and volunteer agencies were capable of helping uninsured homeowners."

A spokesperson for the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group says everyone who needed a place to stay has at least a temporary one now. The food banks have been open 5 days a week. We're told the United Way, Salvation Army and Yavapai Community Foundation has helped tremendously.

While there has been money donated through fundraisers, the spokesperson says numbers are still being totaled. She wouldn't say how much was raised but said it would not cover all the needs.

We spoke with Patty Cooper, who lost her 3 bedroom home where she lived with her 85-year-old father. The artist and musician said they moved in 30 days before the fire swept through.

"It was a natural disaster, why would they deny Arizona? My dad and I just bought that land and house May 8th and I moved him from Denver and everything. He was 85 years old, we paid cash for the land. I moved him June 1st and we just had not gotten insurance yet," says Cooper.

"I love this community, this community is awesome it's working really hard to fill in the gaps. Arizonans take care of Arizona."

There are also a number of under-insured that need help. The community is worried about the struggling water association and fire department, now that they say they've lost a third of the tax base.

Online: yarnellhillrecoverygroup.org

Statement by Jan Brewer

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.