89.9 FM Live From The University Of New Mexico
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Relief funds are on their way to wildfire victims, but some say it's too late

Office of Sen. Ben Ray Luján
President Biden signed a Major Disaster Declaration for New Mexico following the Congressional Delegation’s call to do so as the state continues to battle historic wildfires. Senator Luján joined President Biden and Vice President Harris at the White House when the declaration was signed.

President Joe Biden has declared the U.S.’s largest wildfire in New Mexico as a disaster.

The declaration comes on the heels of firefighters successfully fighting back the flames from entering the city of Las Vegas––for now.

The emergency declaration allows FEMA to set-up disaster relief for governments and private citizens affected by the fires. That includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses.

Norma Avitia has been evacuated from her home in the small village of Guadalupita near the fire.

“I’m going to start crying right now," Avitia said. "I mean, I’ve seen grown men cry because they found out their house is burned.”

She says the funds will help, but she's worried about how long it might take to reach her bank account. That, and the money is coming too little, too late.

In a statement, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office said the approved request is for both public assistance for governments and organizations, including direct aid and debris removal, as well as for individuals. Individual Assistance grants can be used for food, housing, childcare, unemployment and counseling.

The fire has burned over 160,000 acres of land and is still just 20% contained.

A window of quiet and cooler weather has given fire officials a very small opportunity to reinforce the fire line of the Calf Canyon-Hermit’s peak fire before erratic winds and high temperatures return this weekend.

Apply for FEMA disaster assistance here.

Related Content
  • Projected to double in size in the coming days, the Calf Canyon/ Hermit’s Peak Fire continued to rage in northern New Mexico––threatening towns and villages and forcing thousands to flee. Now, erratic winds are pushing the flames closer to Mora and Las Vegas.
  • The Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak Fire in northeastern New Mexico remains the largest wildfire burning in the country. While forest officials say weaker winds Monday allowed firefighters to make progress on its containment, winds returned Tuesday afternoon and are forecast for Wednesday, as well. Source New Mexico’s Shaun Griswold was on the ground in Mora last week and has continued to follow the fire and the northern New Mexico residents impacted by it.
  • The Southwest’s fire season is lasting longer and getting worse, according to researchers. Fire officials do have a trick up their sleeve: prescribed or planned burns. The Los Alamos National Laboratory is creating a tool that uses physics and data modeling to predict how a prescribed burn might behave before it’s lit. But, in hot, dry weather it’s harder to keep them under control.