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Gov. Jan Brewer: Obama handled Yarnell aid rejection poorly

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said the manner in which the federal government rejected her request for aid for Yarnell, Ariz. was “very, very disappointing.”

When asked what she would have said to President Barack Obama, she did not pull any punches.

“You promised me you would be there for us when you called me before the memorial services were held and I felt confident that we would get the benefit of our federal government stepping up to help us,” she told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Mac & Gaydos.

In a letter, FEMA said it felt the money it had already disbursed to assist with firefighting costs. Brewer said that’s only part of the cost.

“It’s not just the fire, it’s the recovery,” she said. “That whole area needs to be reseeded and drained and the rains will come and those communities will be flooded.”

FEMA also said state and local funds should be enough to cover the losses of uninsured private homes. Brewer said the federal government has a responsibility to help its citizens.

“A disaster is what the federal government is for; those things that we can’t do for ourselves,” she said, adding that Arizona has money to aid Yarnell residents, but not enough to address the needs of each person affected.

Arizona House Speaker Andrew Tobin told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Mac & Gaydos the decision was politically motivated, but Brewer didn’t agree.

“I would hate to think this it was political,” she said. “I don’t think anybody would damage that number of people because of politics. I mean, they have a responsibility.”

Brewer also said there are times where partisanship has to be moved aside and Obama knows that.

“Bottom line is, when certain things happen, no matter who it happens to, you don’t play politics,” she said. “There are certain things you just plain don’t play politics with.”

However, Brewer said she felt the way the message was conveyed — late on a Friday — following a “campaign-style” speech in the Valley was politically strategized.

“It was very, very disappointing and certainly troubling,” she said. “I was very upset that they would do this on a Friday afternoon where we can’t reach Washington, D.C.”

Brewer said she felt Obama may have know FEMA’s decision when he visited Phoenix on Tuesday, but understood there was a process that had to be completed.

Brewer promised to do everything she can for those in Yarnell, especially those who lost everything and have nothing to fall back on.

“These people have no collateral, so many of them,” she said. “That’s what they had, that was their life: their homes up there. They have nothing, other than what they have in the bank. We know that the country’s been through bad times, so lot’s of people don’t have a while lot of money in the bank either.”

Brewer, along with several other politicians, plan to appeal the decision despite the threat of another rejection.

“We can take our slaps,” she said. “We’re strong.”

Had the FEMA funds arrived, Brewer said the rebuilding process would have already begun.

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