EUGENE, Ore. – Sen. Ron Wyden said Wednesday he will pressure the Federal Emergency Management Agency for answers after an Oregon Public Broadcasting report revealed more than half of applications for wildfire assistance in the state were denied.
According to the report, about 14,000 Oregonians were denied aid after the devastating wildfires in 2020.
While the high rates of denial are on par with previous natural disasters, Wyden said the situation deserves more scrutiny.
I’m pushing FEMA on these numbers to ensure every legal claim is counted so Oregonians get this much-needed assistance to get back on their feet. I won’t rest until Oregonians get the answers and the help they need. https://t.co/pTG04JSGsZ
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) February 17, 2021
“We all understand the need to prevent fraud, and FEMA has been concerned about that,” Wyden said. “But that (number) sounds way, way high."
Just last month, FEMA reversed course and granted a request for direct housing assistance for victims of the Holiday Farm Fire, only after intervention by Wyden, Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Peter DeFazio.
“I am concerned this pattern of making it harder than it certainly ought to be … is something that ought to be addressed,” Wyden said.