After Passing Wildfire Relief For New Mexicans, Luján Meets With Local Leaders in Mora and Las Vegas To Discuss Next Steps

Mora, N.M. – Today, U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) joined Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to host meeting with local officials from Las Vegas to discuss the passage of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act and received an update on the water treatment system following the harm caused by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, which was started by the federal government. Following their meeting, Senator Luján toured the water system of Las Vegas to view the harm firsthand.

Senator Luján also traveled to Mora to meet with community leaders to provide an update on the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act and how it will support New Mexicans. Last week, President Biden signed the Continuing Resolution that includes Senator Luján’s Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act to support New Mexico residents and business owners impacted.

“Today’s meetings are critical in determining the next steps that must be taken in order to move New Mexico’s recovery forward,” said Senator Luján. “We discussed the passage of my legislation and how it will support Las Vegas and their recovery and discussed the devastating water crisis they’re facing. After hearing from local leaders and seeing the harm firsthand, it’s clear more support is urgently needed to rebuild their water system and ensure it’s ready to meet the needs of the local community.”

Luján continued, “I also traveled to Mora to discuss what passing my Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act means for our state’s recovery. This legislation provides federal funding to assist New Mexicans who have lost everything: their homes, businesses, and other financial losses that can’t be replaced. The passage of my legislation is just the first step to provide more opportunities for New Mexicans and small businesses who have struggled to rebuild in the months following the fire. There is still more work to be done to make New Mexicans whole, and I am determined to make that happen.”

“Today, I participated in a roundtable with Senator Luján, Governor Lujan Grisham, local officials, and FEMA to discuss the implementation of my legislation, the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act. We’ve asked FEMA to make the claims process as streamlined as possible and to have a navigator or claims assistant so that people have someone at the Hermit’s Peak office available to provide help and technical assistance. FEMA also committed to having at least two permanent offices in the community, and a couple of mobile units that would travel and be available to provide assistance for several years.  The legislation creates a new source of payment for losses. FEMA personnel understand that unlike the disaster declaration the Hermit’s Peak claims are intended to make people whole for all their losses.  We will be having public meetings to provide FEMA with community input as it finalizes it regulations, which are due no later than November 14, 2022.  In addition, we discussed the unique cultural and economic characteristics of the affected communities which FEMA must consider. To help understand the needs of the local communities, FEMA intends to hire local personnel to staff the Hermit’s Peak office. When I introduced this legislation, our lands, forests, and the homes of our gente were burning, they needed resources then, and they still do now. I will continue to work with FEMA so that they receive public input on the implementation of my legislation,” said Rep. Leger Fernández.

“I am distinctly proud of our advocacy and determination that got this critical funding over the finish line. Because of the efforts of those that I was glad to join in Las Vegas today, $2.5 billion is now on its way to New Mexicans affected by these disastrous wildfires. At the state level, we’ve provided grants to affected businesses and secured temporary housing for those who lost their homes – but we knew that state assistance alone would not bridge the gaps left by existing federal programs, which is why we fought so hard to ensure the federal government committed the funds that affected New Mexicans wholly deserve. My most profound thanks go to Senator Luján, Congresswoman Leger Fernández, and all the members of the New Mexico delegation who fought to get this funding across the finish line,” said Governor Lujan Grisham.



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