PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Washington has asked FEMA and the Trump administration to declare a Major Disaster as wildfires continue burning across many counties in the state, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday.
Inslee said during a press briefing that he’s specifically asked FEMA to provide assistance for Whitman County, including shelter and other aid for those who have been displaced by the fires. The governor will also be requesting public assistance for additional counties in the coming weeks as conditions allow officials to carry out more assessments.
“I’m really hopeful the federal government will come through this time for Washingtonians who have lost so much,” Inslee said.
By Thursday, most of the wildfires in Washington had been contained, Inslee said. He thanked firefighters for their “heroic work.”
The governor was joined by mental and behavioral health providers and a student mental health advocate to discuss ways people can seek help during these challenging times.
“It’s a lot to take in and that’s tough,” said Inslee. “Mental health is physical health.”
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On Monday, Inslee said Washington passed 2,000 COVID-19 deaths while historic wildfires have burned more than 620,000 acres across the state.
Inslee discussed those numbers, current “oppressive” air quality and the effects of human-caused climate change in a press briefing on Monday.
Officials are confident in their ability to contain the current wildfires and protect communities, Inslee said. Washington has freed up some resources to help other states — including Oregon — with their fire fighting efforts.
“It’s not a lot, but it is a gesture: we’re all in this together,” said Inslee.