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Jerry Brown on California wildfires: Trump has ‘got our back’

November 19, 2018

California Gov. Jerry Brown said Sunday that President Trump has assured him he will provide continued federal aid for the disastrous California wildfires, adding that the president has “got our back.”

“That’s a big, big win,” Mr. Brown told CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “The president has not only signed a presidential declaration giving California substantial funding, but he said and pledged very specifically to continue to help us. That he’s got our back. And I thought that was a very positive thing.”

Mr. Trump toured the devastation with Mr. Brown and other state leaders Saturday in Paradise, the Northern California town virtually obliterated by the Camp fire, as well as a Cal Fire command center in Chico.

Last week, Mr. Trump threatened to withhold federal dollars from California over the “gross mismanagement of the forests,” saying there was “no reason for these massive deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor.”

Mr. Brown said that the town of Paradise is surrounded by federal land, not state parks or private property.

“There [has] been some back and forth between California leaders and the president,” Mr. Brown said. “But in the face of tragedy, people tend to rise above some of their lesser propensities.”

“In the face of tragedy, people tend to rise above some of their lesser propensities,” @JerryBrownGov said of President Trump’s change of mind https://t.co/YJRLfyafRj Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) November 18, 2018

The Democratic governor again blamed climate change for fueling the catastrophic wildfires but also agreed that the overgrown forests were part of the problem.

He said he didn’t dwell on the global-warming issue with Mr. Trump, who approved Mr. Brown’s request last week for an expedited federal disaster declaration.

“I certainly raised it, but I didn’t feel that that was where we needed to go. We need the money,” Mr. Brown said. “We need federal help and we need a collaborative and cooperative spirit, and we’re getting that.”

At the same time, “I did say that we’re going to look at all the elements that are causing these fires over time and we’re going to work in a way to let science be our guide, and the president in no way negated that.”

The death toll from the wildfires rose over the weekend to 79 people. All but three of those were killed in the Camp fire, easily the deadliest wildfire in California history and one of the state’s worst natural-disasters of any kind.

Another 1,300 people are still unaccounted for as a result of the wildfire. Mr. Brown said he expected the cost of the damage to run in the “tens of billions” of dollars.

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