On Monday, the Small Business Administration announced that low-interest federal loans will be made available to wildfire victims in seven Northern California counties.
Those who lost homes or businesses in the counties of Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo will be able to apply for loans, with homeowners able to receive loans with 1.18% interest, and businesses owners at 3% interest. Renters can also receive loans, but only for personal belongings.
The loan announcement was the culmination of several days of announcements and close cooperation between California and the federal government.
President Trump, who had recently criticized California for not doing enough to prevent the wildfires, approved California’s request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration on Saturday. Notably, he did so without any criticism of the state or of Governor Gavin Newsom.
Governor Newsom, who has also heavily criticized the President in the past, gave appreciation and thanked President Trump during the weekend.
“Thank you to the President for your partnership and granting this urgent Major Disaster Declaration,” said Governor Newsom in a written statement. “California is battling two of the largest fires in our history and has seen nearly 600 new fires in the last week caused by dry lightning strikes. These are unprecedented times and conditions, but California is strong – we will get through this.”
Wildfires in Northern California only got worse during the weekend, with 625 fires, 17 of them major, now blazing. The SCU Lightning Complex Fire alone is currently the third largest in state history, being the largest contributor the 1.2 million acres of California that have burned.
The size of the fires and the real national emergency in Northern California have been cited as the main reason for the unusual cooperation between Newsom and Trump.
“These two hate each other’s guts, but they’re both stepping up in a time of crisis and helping out people in the northern part of the state,” noted Harold Lowry, an emergency planner, to the Globe. “You can look at this politically and say that Trump doesn’t want to alienate people, especially those in Western states who have wildfires, and that Newsom doesn’t want to look week on emergency situations before 2022 or a possible presidential run.
“But this happened way too quick for usual political shenanigans. They were both civil, knew what needed to be done, and chose to do the right thing. Newsom even thanked Trump. Can you name the last time he did that?
“The help was needed and came without any political strings like Bush during Katrina and Obama during the Gulf Coast spill. And even more, it’s available right now. People can apply for loans right now to rebuild. Say what you will about either party, but getting help out this fast before the fire is even out is fantastic.”
All Small Business Administration loans will be handled online due to COVID-19. For those who are affected by the wildfires, they can begin application process on the FEMA website.