Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire victims to receive $1.4B extra in federal relief money

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico’s congressional delegation just secured another $1.4 billion in federal relief money for Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire victims.

Congresswoman Teresa Leger Gernandez estimates the first relief payments could start going out in March , but there’s no official timeline yet.

She says there’s still some organizing going on behind-the-scenes to make sure wildfire victims gets the money they’re owed — without any hassle.  

For now, she wants those folks to take comfort knowing there’s nearly $4 billion on the table to help rebuild after a historic disaster.

“Never before have we seen where a federally-government-started-fire has destroyed a whole forest,” said Fernandez. “It is historic. So we knew we needed more money for it.”

And New Mexico’s congressional delegation got it.

Fernandez says they got to work securing an extra $1.4 billion in federal relief almost immediately after President Biden approved the first $2.5 billion.

“We didn’t talk a lot about it, because we didn’t know whether we’d be able to pull it off. And we were able to pull it off!” Fernandez said. 

The nearly $4 billion relief fund will be used to compensate anyone and everyone affected by the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire, and Fernandez says just about everything is on the table.

“The Christmas trees that we are all buying, and we know that the Mora Christmas trees are the best,” said Fernandez. “The forest managers who lost those Christmas trees, they can apply for the loss of those Christmas trees, not just what you would have cut down today, but what you would have cut down next year in the following year.”

Fernandez says $140 million will be used to build a new water treatment plant in Las Vegas, and the delegation secured extra funding for reforestation projects.

Recent estimates put the total cost of recovery just under $6 billion. But Fernandez says they won’t know for sure until claims start coming in.

“This moment that we’re living in, in terms of Christmas, New Year, Hanukkah, is about reflection and about hope, and what your delegation is doing is trying to provide you with the hope in a future where you can prosper,” said Fernandez. 

Anyone affected by the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire can file a claim for compensation here.

Fernandez says people can file multiple claims over time as they catalog the damage.