Last year the PIA Western Alliance state of New Mexico saw the worst wildfire in its history caused by a “controlled” burn done by the U.S. Forest Service. It forced thousands of residents in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range to flee from their homes as it burned over 530 square miles.
Compensation for the damages has been slow coming.
And now the U.S. Forest Service admits to mismanaging another fire in New Mexico — also late last year — that burned out of control near Los Alamos. Both fires have caused the department to reevaluate how it does prescribed — or, as they also call them, controlled — burns.
Environmentalists say both fires will impact the state for generations to come.
Generations or not, many people in the state are hurting because of the fires, and while Congress has stepped in and put close to $4 billion into a pot to help victims become whole, the process has been too slow and the complaints keep piling up.
Claims office director, Angela Gladwell says she has 90 people on her staff and more will soon be joining her office. She said, so far, over 1,600 loss notices have been filed and her office is now processing about $50 million in claims.
Gladwell says it will take five to six years before it’s all said and done. “We’re excited because this funding will begin to provide some much needed relief to our claimants who have been patiently waiting for an opportunity to start recovering,” Gladwell said.
Her office is also working with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Flooding is a big concern because of the destruction of trees and other plants. Plus, the summer rainy season is here. The claims office will be paying for five-years of flood insurance for claimants wanting such insurance.
To date 350 requests have been made, and a lot of them have already been approved.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham — a Democrat — has been involved in pushing the Biden administration forward. Even though payments are now flowing, the governor’s spokeswoman Caroline Sweeney says the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — who is managing the payments — needs to move faster.
“While we’re glad to see these funds finally start flowing, the federal government has a long way to go to meet its commitment to make impacted New Mexicans whole,” Sweeney said.
In the meantime, Congress is putting pressure on the Forest Service to do a better job managing wildfires.
Source link: Insurance Business America — https://bit.ly/3DMfBwn