Destruction from the Almeda Fire is shown in Phoenix.

Why is Oregon getting a worse deal from the Federal Emergency Management Agency than California? FEMA authorized 100% cost share for debris removal and emergency protective measures for the wildfires in California. In Oregon, we didn’t get that. Why not?

We asked FEMA. FEMA carefully explained the federal cost share regulations.

Generally, the federal cost share for such disaster expenses is 75%. That’s under what is called the Stafford Act. The president or Congress can, though, adjust that rate.

Perhaps that is the answer to our question right there — President Trump likes California more?

Waivers of the federal cost share have become more common after the 2005 Gulf storm season. FEMA has authorized 90% cost share in 20 disasters since January 2017.

For instance, in 2019 FEMA Administrator Brock Long authorized shifting the cost share of the 2018 California wildfires from 75% to 90%. FEMA also authorized 100% cost share in 22 disasters since the beginning of 2017, including this year’s California wildfires.

Oregon’s congressional delegation recently wrote a letter to FEMA, requesting 100% cost share for Oregon’s 2020 wildfires. They pointed out the threshold for FEMA to support an increased cost share has been passed:

The damage in Oregon was greater than $149 per capita. So if California got 100%, why not Oregon?

This is not an answer, but there has actually been an effort in Congress to pass a bill changing the federal cost share for all emergencies and disasters in 2020. It would make them all not less than 90% federal.

That was the FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020, H.R. 8266. COVID-19 cost share would have also gone to 100 %. Of course, such changes don’t come without a price.

The Congressional Budget Office did not have a cost estimate as of earlier this week. The bill is still in the House.

Come on President Trump. We know you have other things on your mind these days, but could you tell Oregonians why they don’t deserve as much help as California?

(1) comment


It would have helped the reader if you reviled what the cost share amount for Oregon was.

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