(The Center Square) – Around the first anniversary of securing the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján and U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández, all Democrats from New Mexico, introduced the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Claims Extension Act.
The bill would extend the timeframe to file claims with the Hermit’s Peak Claims Office until the end of 2027.
Many New Mexicans impacted by the natural disasters urged FEMA to extend the deadline to apply for compensation during the public comment period for the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act. As it stands, the deadline to apply for compensation is November 2024.
“This legislation recognizes this extension is beyond FEMA’s authority to change, but agrees with New Mexicans that additional time for those impacted by the fire to submit a notice of loss and get the full compensation they deserve,” a press release from Heinrich’s office said.
The New Mexico delegation has secured $3.95 billion for the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire recovery.
“Passing the Hermit’s Peak Calf Canyon Assistance Act into law was a critical step in making sure those impacted by the worst fire in our state’s history were made whole again,” Heinrich said. “By extending the deadline New Mexicans can submit their claims through the Hermit’s Peak Claims Office, this legislation will help New Mexicans receive the relief they need to rebuild. I will leave no stone unturned in making sure that New Mexico families and communities make a full recovery, and I remain committed to restoring the health of the forests and watersheds that these communities rely on.”
Luján contended that New Mexicans deserve more time to file their claims.
“The Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire was the largest wildfire on record in New Mexico history that devastated northern New Mexico families and businesses,” Luján said. “I was proud to lead the effort to secure $3.95 billion to help New Mexicans recover and I will continue pressing the federal government to make the relief process as seamless as possible. This includes extending the deadline to apply for relief. With payments now being disbursed, it’s critical that New Mexicans have the time they need to apply for the compensation that they deserve.”
Leger Fernandez said that while passing the Assistance Act was good, the delegation needs to do more.
“One year ago, Congress passed my Hermit’s Peak Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act,” Leger Fernandez said. “The power of the people’s stories of loss and injustice helped us secure $3.95 billion to create an entirely new program to compensate victims of the fire. Unfortunately, the fire was not the end of the heartache for our communities. The burn scar created by this man made disaster has left our people in the path of dangerous floods. That is why I am introducing the Hermit’s Peak Calf Canyon Claims Extension Act to make sure victims can continue to submit claims through 2027 and have their flood insurance covered through 2028. I will continue to push the Claims Office to speed up the payments these victims desperately need and bring justice to our communities.”
One can read the full bill here.