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FEMA asked to declare extreme heat, smoke as major disasters
Triple digits continue

This past week, amid triple digit heat and continuing wildfire-fighting efforts across the state, Representative Josh Harder (CA-9) called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to use all available resources to respond to the threats of extreme heat and wildfire smoke.

“Extreme heat and wildfire smoke keep getting worse year after year, and it’s time FEMA and other federal agencies start taking this seriously,” said Rep. Harder. “We’ve seen day after day of triple-digit temperatures, and it seems like there’s a new wildfire every few hours. If disaster strikes, the federal government needs to step in to help our families stay safe and rebuild.”

In a letter to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, Harder outlined specific changes to FEMA programs to better mitigate the risks and help families recover from the damages of extreme heat and wildfire smoke. Specifically, he lays out changes to existing programs, including:

Public Assistance should be available to cover the cost of emergency actions including the cost of cooling centers, food, water, masks and air purification equipment and medical care.

Individual Assistance should be available for extreme heat and wildfire smoke emergencies through existing avenues:

The Other Needs Assistance program to cover housing costs and other expenses, the Individuals and Households Program to cover the costs of AC units and fans, and the Home Repair Assistance and Personal Property Assistance program to cover costs associated with repairing and replacing ventilation systems, AC units, and fans.

Building Resilient Infrastructure in Communities should also be used to cover planning and project costs, including cooling centers and long-term building projects that mitigate extreme heat.

Already having been under an ongoing ‘Excessive Heat Warning’ from the beginning of July, the region continues to have heat watches and warnings extended. Escalon city officials on Monday morning, July 8, issued another extension, with the current excessive heat warning now remaining in effect until 8 p.m. Friday, July 12.

Dangerously hot conditions are expected with high temperatures of 105 to 111 forecast during the week. With overnight lows dropping only into the upper 60s and in some areas just the lower 80s, there will be limited overnight relief.

The National Weather Service has issued the extended excessive heat warning for the Northern San Joaquin Valley and Southern Sacramento Valley.

Residents are again reminded to stay hydrated, limit time outdoors and stay in a cool environment as ways to beat the heat.