PHOENIX -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Friday again denied Gov. Jan Brewer's request for a disaster declaration because of the Yarnell Hill fire that killed 19 firefighters in June and destroyed more than 100 homes.
FEMA spokesman Dan Watson in Washington said Brewer's appeal of the agency's Aug. 9 denial was rejected. FEMA has repeatedly said the damage to uninsured private homes was not so severe that state, local and volunteer agencies couldn't handle the problems, and that FEMA could not duplicate coverage for insured properties.
The Small Business Administration announced Friday it will begin offering low-interest loans to homeowners and businesses affected by the fire under its own disaster declaration. The loans could not be offered while the appeal was pending.
``To say that I'm tremendously disappointed with the decision of President Obama's administration to again deny Arizona's request for a federal disaster declaration would be an understatement,'' Brewer said in a statement. ``A declaration was reasonable and justified for the nation's deadliest fire in 80 years.''
Brewer had asked FEMA to provide individual assistance, disaster case management services, hazard mitigation and a federal team to rehabilitate the burned area.
She said when she appealed last week that the amount of uninsured damage had increased and FEMA didn't take into account the high number of poor and elderly residents in Yarnell when it denied the disaster declaration request. She also said the agency's denial increases the risk the town faces from flooding because the rehab team was part of the denial.
Arizona's nine House members and two U.S. senators sent a letter to FEMA last week requesting it reconsider its denial, and four attended Brewer's Sept. 4 news conference announcing the appeal.
FEMA regulations require it to consider many factors when reviewing a disaster aid request, including insurance coverage, recent multiple disasters and other available federal assistance programs.
Brewer has said nine of the 108 destroyed homes were uninsured and 17 were underinsured, but that number is likely to go up.
Yavapai County Emergency Management Coordinator Denny Foulk said last week that 11 of the homes were uninsured about 30 were underinsured. He placed a rough value on the uninsured homes at $1.1 million and the underinsured at $3 million.
The town's water system was also damaged, in some cases because firefighter use drained its pipes, and then they collapsed when heavy equipment drove above them. Basic repairs could cost about $1.2 million, replacing sections of water line $8 million, and a complete overhaul would be $15 million, Foulk said.
Paying for a complete rebuild of the water system and covering the uninsured losses is less than $20 million, but Brewer said the state should not have to use its hefty reserves to pay for the recovery.
The SBA said it will open a disaster loan outreach center next week in Yarnell to take applications for low-interest federal disaster loans. They'll be available to homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit organizations whose property was damaged or destroyed.
The SBA loan center will be at the Yarnell Community Presbyterian Church. It will be open from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday from Sept. 17 until Oct. 10. Homeowners can borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed structures and up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.
- Claims from Yarnell Hill Fire reach $662M
- Feds again tell Gov. Brewer no disaster relief
- Companies donate fire gear to Yarnell
- Prescott to take down informal memorial
- Legislators to discuss responder coverage
- Fire payments for crew covered most costs
- Pendant honors fallen fire crew
- Phoenix store donates $100K for families
- Legislators ask Obama to reconsider fire aid
- Planes called just before firefighter deaths
- Couple gets back wedding ring after fire
- Arrests in robbing of evacuated Yarnell home
- DPS paramedic reported firefighter deaths
- Pat McMahon: Back to business
- Yarnell residents return to burned homes
- McCain honors Hotshots inside US Senate (V)
- Brewer asks Obama to declare emergency
- Joe Biden speaks at Yarnell Hill memorial
- Rob Hunter: Remembering the Hotshots
- SR 89 near site of hotshots' deaths reopens
- Friends, family share stories of Hotshots
- Surviving hotshot reads prayer at service
- Yarnell Post Office reopens after wildfire
- McMahon: Misplaced outrage
- Wyo. Hotshots raise over $8K for AZ families
- Displaced Yarnell residents go home
- Fire crews: Answer to why is someone has to
- McMahon: Blackened tears
- Procession brings home fallen AZ firefighters
- Photo of flags on firemen creates controversy
- McCain: Deadly Ariz. wildfire highlights need
- Burns, breathing issues killed 19 firefighters
- Yarnell Fire destroys 129 structures
- Firefighter built, tried to protect crew
- Prescott holds vigil for fallen hotshot crew
- Candlelight vigil held in Phoenix for fallen
- Final Word: Firefighters' deaths rallying state
- Widow of firefighter shares memories (VID)
- Storms with lightning threaten Yarnell Fire
- Time-lapse footage of the Yarnell wildfire
- Hunter: Leaving everything behind
- Emergency shelters last chance for survival
- Fallen Prescott fire crew members ID'd
- Report: Two fallen firefighters from Calif.
- Firefighter: 'Doing best we can' after deaths
- Reporter: No surprise last-ditch effort failed
- Humane Society deployed to Yarnell Fire
- For hotshots, preparing a way of life
- American flag greets fallen Prescott crew
- Fallen fire crew worked front lines
- VIDEO: Hotshot memorial in Prescott
- AZ leaders tweet sympathy over Yarnell Fire
- Surviving crew member was moving truck
- Celebrities react to those affected in Yarnell
- VIDEO: Procession for fallen firefighters
- Obama: 'Heartbroken' over AZ firefighters
- VIDEO: Prescott hotshot memorial
- Firefighter's group statement on fallen crew
- Eyes on Education A view of Arizona's education system from all angles.