Gov. Jerry Brown spoke with President Obama by telephone on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the California wildfires and said afterward of the president: “He’ll be there when we need him.”
The state so far has been able to pay for the emergency response to a series of major wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes in Northern California.
Later asked about the issue on CNN by host Wolf Blitzer, Brown said funding of emergencies is becoming a national issue.
“At the national level, I was just speaking to the president a few moments ago and their funding is running short,” Brown said. “So the Congress has to take seriously these threats, both flooding but certainly the fires that are costing a billion dollars a year and are probably going to cost more. So, we’ve got a lot to do and these presidential candidates ought to face that.”
Blitzer asked Brown whether President Obama gave him a commitment of how much he would help California.
“Well the president, and the federal government of course, has been helping with fire engines, with hand crews, helicopters, planes,” Brown said. “We’ve got 15,000 people fighting these fires but we’re not anywhere near the end of fire season. So the president has certainly been there and I believe he’ll be there when we need him over the next couple of months and wherever else in the country.”
Brown said climate change means that “we have these big threats and we’ve got to rise up to the occasion of these significant issues that affect our quality of life.”
A statement by the White House said that Obama called Brown “to receive an update on the recent wildfires and express his concern about the devastating impacts on the state of California and its citizens.”
The president expressed his gratitude during the call for the work of the firefighters and other responders.
“The president made clear that his administration will continue to support the state and local efforts,” the statement said. “He reiterated that the administration is committed to fixing the way the nation pays for wildfire suppression, reducing the risk of future catastrophic wildfires, and continuing to work closely with Governor Brown in preparing California for the impacts of a changing climate.
“The president told Governor Brown that his thoughts and prayers are with the people of California during these difficult times,” the statement said.