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Tierra Monte, NM — In April of this year, the US government started the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history. The fires were set by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) — ironically to reduce wildfire risk — but having the opposite of their intended effect. Thanks to several acts of incompetence, neglect, and ignorance, the controlled burn morphed into a catastrophic blaze that engulfed over 530 square miles of mostly privately owned forests and meadows, while destroying 432 homes as well. Now, after burning down their homes and land, the state is demanding the victims pay for the damage themselves — despite previous reassurances that they would be given support.
“Today I’m announcing the federal government’s covering 100% of the cost,” President Joe Biden said after he visited the state in June. But, like so many words uttered from the mounts of US presidents, that was not true.
FEMA has so far granted $4.2 million to the 1,164 fire survivors, marking an average payout of $3,600. To one of the hundreds of folks who lost their home, this is a kick in the teeth.
According to a recent report in Reuters, cost-sharing statutes on federal relief programs are preventing the victims from receiving the help they need. Instead of the promised 100% of the cost, victims of the government’s seeming act of arson were told they are on the hook for 25% of the total cost, as per the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) guidelines.
Daniel Encinias and his wife Lori were victims of the government blaze and are now finding out that they are on the hook for the damage.
“Why the hell am I going to pay anything when I didn’t cause this damn fire?” Encinias told Reuters.
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Naturally, as Reuters reports, these victims can’t simply shell out the millions of dollars it will take to repair the damages caused by the government’s fire.
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“The government is good at one thing. It knows how to break your legs, and then hand you a crutch and say, ‘See if it weren’t for the government, you wouldn’t be able to walk.’”
Article cross-posted from The Free Thought Project.