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Washington State's Largest Wildfire Not Big Enough To Merit More Federal Assistance

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
A plane drops fire retardant over a wildfire as clouds of smoke billow behind and above Saturday, July 19, 2014, near Carlton, Washington.

People of the Methow Valley and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation were hoping for more money to rebuild hundreds of lost homes and livelihoods.

But the federal government, for the second time, turned down the application by Washington state for more aid. This time, FEMA said the effects of the fire were not severe enough "to warrant the designation of Individual Assistance.”

Gov. Jay Inslee said the fires burned through low income communities that had very little available housing. He promised the state will stay involved to “do our best to help them recover.”

In the Methow Valley, there’s now a housing shortage. The state estimates somewhere around 350 homes were burned down. Now, families are trying to stay near their jobs, the people they know, or their schools.

They are sometimes commuting long distances or are hunkering down with family or friends. Local human service organizations have had to hire on extra staff.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.