Hermit's Peak/Calf Canyon Claims Office Frequently Asked Questions

On Sept. 30, 2022, President Joseph R. Biden signed the Hermit’s Peak Fire Assistance Act that provided $2.5 billion to compensate New Mexicans and Tribal Nations impacted by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire. An additional $1.45 billion was included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, that passed Dec. 29, 2022, providing a total of $3.95 billion to fund expected costs under the Act. Funding may cover eligible loss including personal injury, loss of property, business loss or financial loss.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act also included funding to replace water treatment facilities damaged by the fire to ensure communities have access to clean drinking water.

This historic fire, and subsequent flooding, had devastating impacts and this funding will provide much needed resources to help individuals and communities jumpstart their recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many of the comments resulted in substantial changes to the final policy?

FEMA received nearly 300 comments from impacted community members and recovery stakeholders. Those comments played an instrumental role in shaping the final regulations, underscoring FEMA's unwavering commitment to transparency and community engagement. The final rule includes substantial changes that were a direct result of the feedback received.

Major Changes

  • Removing caps on compensation associated with reforestation, revegetation and risk reduction efforts. Allowing the Claims Office to fully compensate for those losses and practices. 
  • Allowing compensation for property values that have been substantially and enduringly reduced due to the fire's impact, acknowledging the prolonged recovery process.
  • Extending the deadline for compensation related to mental health treatment and mental health conditions resulting from, or worsened by, the fire.
  • Extending the compensation period for donations to November 14, 2022.
  • Expanding compensation for reimbursement of expert opinions, enabling claimants and the Claims Office to more accurately determine appropriate compensation amounts.
  • Extending the timeframe for reopening claims, recognizing the ongoing nature of recovery and rebuilding.

What is being done to assist acequias?

The New Mexico Acequia Association, New Mexico Department of Transportation, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), FEMA Public Assistance (PA) Program, Claims Office, and the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) are collaborating on a unified process to efficiently support acequias impacted by the 2022 wildfires and floods.

FEMA recognizes the significance of acequias to affected communities and is providing compensation to address their infrastructure and risk reduction needs. The Claims Office, together with its partners, also recognizes that the unique physical and cultural nature of acequias and the damage suffered as a result of the fire and flooding require a unified state and federal response.  The Claims Office closely coordinates with the PA program and DHSEM to guide acequias through both programs. The process starts with a unified review by PA and the Claims Office to determine which program the acequia is eligible for, followed by Claims Office compensation for projects ineligible for PA.  PA and the Claims Office will continue to engage with the New Mexico Acequia Association to provide support tailored to action plans for specific claims. The Claims Office and PA also coordinate closely with NRCS on debris removal and acequia projects to ensure all needs are addressed.

What is being done to help alleviate the ongoing losses as a result of post-fire flooding from the burn scar?

The Claims Office recognizes that northern New Mexico will continue to experience significant risks from fire and post-fire flooding and is committed to taking steps to support a resilient northern New Mexico into the future.  Federal and state programs are coordinating to optimize available funding, mitigate recurring damages and preserve ongoing recovery efforts. The Claims Office, in partnership with stakeholders, is actively exploring risk reduction strategies that align with local and State mitigation priorities at both homeowner and community levels. By eliminating the 25 percent cap, the Final Rule better addresses claimants' needs and supports heightened risk reduction. Interagency collaboration is also focused on enabling the stabilization and recovery of the watershed within the burn scar area.

The Claims Office understands that property subject to a heightened risk of flood will also be at risk of financial loss.  To minimize that risk, the Claims Office worked in partnership with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to create a unique five-year flood insurance policy available only to individuals and businesses affected by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire and paid for by the Claims Office.

Additionally, under the Stafford Act disaster (DR-4652), eligible facilities affected by cascading impacts qualify for FEMA Public Assistance, encompassing debris removal, emergency protective measures, and facility repairs, including roads.

What is the Claims Office policy on reforestation?

The final regulations removed caps on compensation associated with reforestation and revegetation and risk reduction efforts. The Claims Office can now fully compensate for these losses and practices. Reforestation and revegetation compensation will be based on a suite of best practices and will be determined on a per-acre basis depending on the burn severity of the area.

Why are you not allowing assignments to let third parties purchase claims and control claim payments for claimants?

Assignments are generally not allowed under Federal law. The extensive process required to assign claims against the Federal government is inconsistent with the Act’s purpose and the direction to FEMA to expeditiously and fairly settle claims. Prohibiting assignments is consistent with the purpose of the Act and other Federal law and helps ensure that the individuals, businesses and other entities that suffered damage as a result of the fire receive the compensation they are owed.

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