Newsom OES Director Joins Rep. Kiley in Asking President Biden To Make Good on His Promise of Disaster Relief to Grizzly Flats

Today, Congressman Kevin Kiley (R-CA) sent a letter to President Biden demanding that the President finally fulfill his promise of disaster relief to victims of the 2021 Caldor Fire. The timeline of events is as follows:

  • August 17th, 2021: The Caldor Fire devastated the town of Grizzly Flats, destroying 785 homes.
  • September 12th, 2021: President Biden issues a Major Disaster Declaration that neglects to include Individual Assistance for Grizzly Flats residents.  
  • September 13th, 2021: After surveying damage with Governor Newsom, President Biden pledged “we’re going to take care of them…there’s a lot we can do, and it starts off being a federal responsibility, in my view.” 
  • October 8th, 2021: El Dorado County denied individual assistance.
  • February 2023: Rep. Kiley speaks to President Biden personally at the White House. The President expresses concern that his promise has gone unfulfilled, and asks Kiley to follow up with White House staff.
  • May 10th, 2023: Rep. Kiley meets with the President’s National Security Staff on Disasters at Kiley’s office on Capitol Hill. At that meeting, the President’s staff repeatedly implores Kiley to consult with Nancy Ward, the Director of the California Office of Emergency Services, for an explanation as to why Grizzly Flats residents were not eligible for Individual Assistance. Director Ward was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom and previously served in the Obama Administration.
  • May 31st, 2023: As suggested, Kiley speaks with Director Nancy Ward. However, rather than affirm the White House staff’s position, she directly contradicts it and agrees with Rep. Kiley that the President wrongfully denied the people of Grizzly Flats the assistance they deserved.
  • July 13th, 2023: In a letter to Rep. Kiley, Director Ward notes that Grizzly Flats was “nearly decimated” by the Caldor Fire and sets forth four separate factors counseling in favor of Individual Assistance. Director Ward concludes: “by overturning FEMA’s denial of the State’s appeal, the President still has the opportunity to assist those impacted by the 2021 Caldor Fire.”

“When I came to Congress, I promised the people of Grizzly Flats that I would do everything in my power to secure federal aid necessary to rebuild the community. In the immediate aftermath of the fire, President Biden made a commitment to help the people who lost everything. He has broken that promise, withholding aid that was granted to victims of much less devastating fires. Earlier this year, the President personally told me he wanted to rectify the situation, yet he has failed to follow through. Meanwhile, the people of Grizzly Flats continue to suffer, living in tents or RVs, and many have sold their properties as they are unable to rebuild. 

“With a stroke of his pen, the President can correct this injustice. It is well past time for him to do so.” – Congressman Kiley

Click here to view Rep. Kiley’s letter to the President.

Click here to view Nancy Ward’s letter to Rep. Kiley.

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