Nov 17, 2023
Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today introduced the Making Aid for Local Disasters Equal Now (MALDEN) Act to improve coordination between federal, state, and local agencies to better deploy resources to rural communities impacted by a natural disaster. This legislation is named after the town of Malden, Wash., which was devastated by the Babb Road Fire in 2020.“Rural communities in Eastern Washington are too often at a disadvantage when it comes to wildfire recovery, especially when it takes weeks – or sometimes even months – to reach a decision on a disaster declaration,” said Rodgers. “The MALDEN Act helps bridge that gap by improving coordination between federal and local agencies to get the most effective possible resources on the ground so people can begin putting their lives back together more quickly. While it won’t fix everything, this bill takes what we learned from the devastating Babb, Gray, and Oregon Road Fires and turns it into action we can count on in the future.”In an exclusive interview with KHQ, Cathy discussed this legislation and the difference it would make for rural communities in Eastern Washington. Click here to watch the story.

Specifically, the MALDEN Act would amend the Stafford Act to ensure rural communities receive recovery assistance by requiring FEMA to work in coordination with state leadership to provide guidance to local emergency managers on developing a recovery team. They must also assist in identifying short and long-term recovery resources, including resources to prevent secondary natural disasters like flooding, mudslides and rockslides.

The bill also instructs FEMA to work with the state emergency management agency to make disaster case workers available for rural communities in the event that a request for Individual Assistance is made and denied.

The following Malden residents and organizations have voiced their support for the MALDEN Act:

“The MALDEN Act is a critically important piece of legislation for small rural communities devastated by wildfires and other natural disasters. Had this bill been in place prior to the Babb Road Fire, our community would have been in a better position to support residents and help them begin to rebuild. I am deeply grateful to Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers for her leadership on the MALDEN Act and commitment to helping her constituents in Malden and Pine City.” – Dan Harwood, Mayor of Malden 

“County emergency responders are often the first on the scene following a disaster to help coordinate clean-up, recovery, and rebuilding efforts in order to return our residents’ lives back to normal as quickly as possible. As the frequency, severity, and cost of natural and man-made disasters continue to increase, the Making Aid for Local Disasters Equal Now Act would help ensure that local governments have the resources necessary to fulfill our public sector responsibilities of keeping our residents safe and secure. Counties thank Rep. McMorris Rodgers for her efforts to help counties respond to disasters.” – Matthew Chase, National Association of Counties

“As a firefighter and resident of Malden, I helped people evacuate during the Babb Road Fire. The next day, I showed up as a town council member to volunteer and help however I could. Unfortunately, for nearly six months, our community was left in the dark waiting for the help we were promised to arrive. The MALDEN Act is desperately-needed legislation to deploy critical resources and information more efficiently – regardless of a disaster declaration – for rural communities when they need it most. I hope others in Congress will support this timely bill to make sure help always arrives as soon as possible.” – Scott Hokonson, Babb Road Fire Recovery

“In my experience as Recovery Manager for Spokane County, I’ve seen firsthand how critical it is to get needed resources to those affected by disaster quickly. The MALDEN Act would make coordination of Federal Resources with us faster and much more effective to help those in need. I would like to thank Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers for introducing and supporting this important legislation.” – Gerry Bozarth CEM, Spokane County Emergency Management

CLICK HERE to read the full bill text.

CLICK HERE for a one pager on the MALDEN Act.