FEMA, the federal agency responsible for funding relief efforts after major disasters, has opted not to help the town of Yarnell after a devastating wildfire destroyed 100 homes and claimed the lives of 19 firefighters.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer requested the disaster relief assistance last month. FEMA responded by saying, "it has been determined that the damage to uninsured private residences from this event was not such severity and magnitude as to beyond the capabilities of the state [of Arizona]."
No funding means, at least for now, several families will not have immediate funding to clean-up and rebuild their homes that were destroyed.
"I lost everything," George Hunter said. "All but my car."
The fire reduced Hunter's Yarnell home to ash and dust. For him, the cleanup process has just begun, and moving forward he doesn't know how to come up with the funding to replace that home.
"There's a lot of mad people around here at the government," he said. "They're not being helped any."
The last time FEMA stepped up with federal funding for families affected by a wildfire in Arizona was in 2003. FEMA funded disaster relief for home and business owners in Pima County when the Aspen fire destroyed more than 300 buildings in the town of Summerhaven.
Homeowners in Yarnell are wondering what sets the two disasters apart when it comes to federal aid.
"There are many people that, well, I don't know how they could survive," Maria Louisa Wesson said.
Wesson is one of many in Yarnell with a home that was underinsured or uninsured.
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