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

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Office of Sen. Ben Ray Luján
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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.

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