SACRAMENTO (CN) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved federal disaster aid for California due to statewide flooding and a mass evacuation caused by damage to the nation’s tallest dam, at Oroville.
Trump signed off on Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid, ending speculation that the Republican president might hold out on the Democratic-controlled state that has predominantly criticized each move he’s made as commander in chief.
Two weeks ago, Trump responded to a University of California, Berkeley student protest that resulted in cancellation of a speech by a right-wing Breitbart News editor by tweeting:
“If UC Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”
Brown’s office estimates that public assistance and clean up costs for the January storms could exceed $162 million.
Brown called on Trump to make the Golden State eligible for FEMA assistance last week after a series of January storms forced him to declare states of emergency in 49 of California’s 58 counties. He followed up with another emergency relief request Sunday to bolster repair efforts of the suddenly besieged Oroville Dam in Northern California.
“I want to thank FEMA for moving quickly to approve our requests. This federal aid will get money and resources where it’s needed most,” Brown said Tuesday.
The White House said FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security will coordinate disaster relief and provide “resources necessary to alleviate the effects” of the dam emergency.
An estimated 190,000 residents were evacuated Sunday from communities underneath the 770-foot Oroville Dam after state officials warned that an untested emergency spillway was expected to fail. Lake Oroville’s main spillway suffered severe structural damage earlier in the week, forcing water officials to send flows over a makeshift spillway on Saturday for the first time in the dam’s 48-year history.
Officials lifted the mandatory evacuations Tuesday afternoon despite forecasts predicting several additional inches of rain later this week, saying they have made ample progress on the damaged emergency spillway.
Since the election, California lawmakers, including Brown, have blasted Trump for his stances on immigration and climate change. Democratic lawmakers have proposed laws that would direct state law enforcement agencies to ignore federal immigration efforts and have demanded that Trump release his tax returns.
Trump has brushed off the state lawmakers’ criticism, and went as far as to call California “out of control” during a Sunday cable TV news show.