NM delegation seeks more federal funding for wildfire relief

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s congressional delegation says the state may need more wildfire relief, even after Congress passed $4 billion in relief last year.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development this month, the delegation expressed concern about three wildfires in the state that happened in 2022.

They pointed to the McBride Fire in Ruidoso and the Nogal Fire in Lincoln County.

FEMA won’t cover those fires. The federal government didn’t cause those fires, unlike the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire in northern New Mexico.

“Each of those communities deserves and needs help,” said Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez. “That’s what the CDBG, this Community Development Block Grant, is intended to do. It is to help with economic development, help with long-term planning.”

Congress approved that grant in December. The grant will go toward rebuilding the area and filling a financial gap.

In May, U.S. lawmakers wrote a letter concerned about FEMA’s delays in fulfilling claims.

Now, Congresswoman Leger Fernandez said they want HUD and FEMA to work closely together to provide as much help as possible.

State officials said they may need millions, or even billions, to address infrastructure and housing impacted by wildfires.

“We don’t know whether we are going to be able to find other pots of money to satisfy it. That’s why it’s a wide range,” Leger Fernandez said.

State legislators also passed $100 million this year as no-interest loans to help victims.

Find the full letter to HUD below.

UPDATE: Since this story’s original June 22 publication, the U.S. Forest Service said their prescribed burn caused the Cerro Pelado Fire. Click here to see that story.