Trump Signs Disaster Declaration for Navajo Nation After Winter Snow

May 22, 2019

President Donald Trump has signed a major disaster declaration for the Navajo Nation. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it follows significant winter snowfall that taxed tribal resources.

Navajo President Jonathan Nez (right) and Vice President Myron Lizer (left) met with FEMA officials in Washington, D.C. in March.
Credit Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President

More than two feet of snow in late February stranded many tribal members in remote areas of the 27,000-square-mile reservation. Navajo emergency personnel delivered food, medicine and firewood. As the snow melted flooding and heavy mud made many roads impassable.

The Navajo government, local tribal chapters and agencies spent nearly a million dollars on the emergency response, and requested assistance from the Trump administration in March. The declaration signed by the president this week will reimburse the tribe for much of the cost.

More than a week after the storms, Navajo President Jonathan Nez vetoed $3 million  approved by the tribal council for the response. According to reports from two Navajo agencies, nearly $2.5 million remained in unspent emergency chapter funds.