President Donald Trump ordered FEMA to cut off funds from California as the state recovers from wildfires, saying the state needs to do a better job managing its forests. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 9 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cut off relief money for California as the state recovers from the deadliest wildfires in its history.
"Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen," Trump tweeted Wednesday. "Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money."
An estimated 86 people died in the Camp Fire in Butte County north of San Francisco. The fire burned 153,000 acres in November, destroying 14,000 homes, 528 commercial buildings and 4,300 other structures. That includes the entire town of Paradise.
Trump's announcement comes three days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom was sworn in and, with one of his first acts, signed new legislation that modernizes the way the state responds and prepares for natural disasters.
Newsom reacted to Trump's tweet minutes later.
"Disaster and recovery are no time for politics. I'm already taking actions to modernize and manage our forests and emergency responses," Newsom tweeted. "The people of CA -- folks in Paradise -- should not be victims to partisan bickering."
Newsom signed two executive orders that acknowledge the role climate change played in causing the wildfires, making forest management a higher priority and reaching out to the private sector for solutions.
Newsom has been a frequent critic of Trump, reacting to Trump's prime time address by tweeting that his "go-to is governing by fear division" and calling the wall "pointless."
"Hundreds of thousands of fed workers are waiting for a paycheck. End the games. Open our government," Newsom tweeted, referring to the partial government shutdown.
Trump said he would cut off FEMA funding while the wildfires were still burning because he doesn't believe the state does enough to manage its forests. When he visited Paradise, he talked about efforts in Finland to rake the forest floor to get rid of brush.