Luján, Heinrich, Leger Fernández Introduce Legislation to Keep Hermit’s Peak Claims Office Open Until 2027
New Legislation Marks Nearly One-Year Since Securing Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Recovery Program
Washington, D.C. – As we reflect on the one-year anniversary of securing the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act, U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M) introduced the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Claims Extension Act to extend the period a victim can file a claim with the Hermit’s Peak Claims Office. Under the new bill, the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Claims Office would remain open until the end of 2027.
During the public comment period of the federal regulations process for the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act, many impacted New Mexicans urged FEMA to extend the deadline to apply for compensation from November 2024 to a later date. This legislation recognizes this extension is beyond FEMA’s authority to change, but agrees with New Mexicans that additional time for those impacted by the fire to submit a notice of loss and get the full compensation they deserve.
Senator Luján and the New Mexico Delegation have delivered $3.95 billion for the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire recovery. Senator Luján, the lead sponsor of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act, has pressed the federal government to move quickly and efficiently to get New Mexicans the relief they need. In August, Senator Luján received President Biden’s commitment to speed the relief process up.
“The Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire was the largest wildfire on record in New Mexico history that devastated northern New Mexico families and businesses. I was proud to lead the effort to secure $3.95 billion to help New Mexicans recover, and I will continue pressing the federal government to make the relief process as seamless as possible. This includes extending the deadline to apply for relief,” said Senator Luján. “With payments now being disbursed, it’s critical that New Mexicans have the time they need to apply for the compensation that they deserve.”
“Passing the Hermit’s Peak Calf Canyon Assistance Act into law was a critical step in making sure those impacted by the worst fire in our state’s history were made whole again,” said Senator Heinrich. “By extending the deadline New Mexicans can submit their claims through the Hermit’s Peak Claims Office, this legislation will help New Mexicans receive the relief they need to rebuild. I will leave no stone unturned in making sure that New Mexico families and communities make a full recovery, and I remain committed to restoring the health of the forests and watersheds that these communities rely on.”
“One year ago, Congress passed my Hermit’s Peak Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act. The power of the peoples’ stories of loss and injustice helped us secure $3.95 billion to create an entirely new program to compensate victims of the fire,” said Rep. Leger Fernández. “Unfortunately, the fire was not the end of the heartache for our communities. The burn scar created by this man-made disaster has left our people in the path of dangerous floods. That is why I am introducing the Hermit’s Peak Calf Canyon Claims Extension Act to make sure victims can continue to submit claims through 2027 and have their flood insurance covered through 2028. I will continue to push the Claims Office to speed up the payments these victims desperately need and bring justice to our communities.”
“An extension of the HPCCA Claims would truly benefit the victims of the Hermits Peak Calf Canyon 2022 disaster as the cascading flooding events are expected to continue for multiple years. As we have seen with 2023 flooding events, mitigating an issue in one area tends to direct the damaging effects to another, thereby causing unexpected damage somewhere else. As we continue to address each issue as it occurs, other values will continue to be affected,” said Mora County Commissioner Veronica Serna. “By issuing an extension from 2024 to 2027, this will give the victims of this disaster the opportunity to file claims for future damages as we experience future flooding events due to the severe burn scar our mountains experienced with the 2022 Hermits Peak Calf Canyon Fire.”
Full text of the legislation is available HERE.