NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – As forecasts project severe, damaging winds across the state over the weekend and increased fire danger, New Mexico’s governor addressed the status of several wildfires during a news conference Friday morning. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said New Mexicans should expect a “historic fire weather event” over the weekend with as many as 100 hours of winds and extreme temperatures.

“The projected data is [starting at] about 11 a.m. tomorrow, for 100 straight hours, we [will] have high temperatures and extreme wind,” the Governor said Friday. “This is the worst possible set of conditions for any fire.”

The briefing marks the second news conference from the Governor on the wildfires this week. On Tuesday, the Governor signed a formal request for a federal disaster declaration as multiple wildfires have emerged across the state, the largest having started on April 4. Typically, those types of declarations are requested after a disaster has been immediately addressed.

Friday, the Governor announced the arrival of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) on the ground in New Mexico, responding to President Joe Biden’s signing of a formal disaster declaration Wednesday. A FEMA Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator, Sandy Eslinger will be leading the response in New Mexico.

The Governor says FEMA is now working to build its team, which will include 28 people in four teams of seven people. Two of those teams have already arrived while the other two are expected soon, according to the state. The first two teams are being directed to Ruidoso in response to the McBride Fire, and Glorieta, where hundreds of families from San Miguel and Mora counties have relocated in response to the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire.

“These are the disaster assistance personal, they come into your communities,” the Governor said. “What do they do? Registrations … you have to register, none of this [federal aid] is available unless you get registered.”

FEMA is advising for those who’ve been affected by the fire to register on their federal website at People can also call 1-800-621-3362.

According to FEMA officials, the assistance is intended to help those without insurance first. However that doesn’t mean people with insurance cannot receive any federal benefits, according to Eslinger.

“This individual assistance program is really tailored toward the individual’s issues, it’s going to be based on a case-by-case basis,” Eslinger. “Overall, the program, by law, does not allow us to duplicate benefits, which includes insurance benefits– so if people have insurance, one of my first messages is: if you’ve got insurance, please go ahead and submit your insurance claim. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not qualified for any FEMA assistance.”

Eslinger is still encouraging those with insurance to apply for FEMA assistance. Friday, she said through the application process, FEMA should be able to identify if there’s an insurance “gap” in coverage or other additional programs that wildfire victims can apply for. “The most important thing is to get registered.”

“Secondly, understand that we just turned the programs on for this disaster [Thursday] and [the website] is going through a ‘script’ and it’s going to say things like, ‘your case is going to be put on hold,’ or you might even hear the word ‘ineligible,'” Eslinger said. “But that is because there’s going to be another step required on [your] part, which means you’ve got to upload your insurance information to see what the difference is.”

Further describing the process of obtaining federal disaster relief, Eslinger foreshadowed possible frustration or roadblocks New Mexicans may run into. She offered advice Friday:

“Don’t give up,” Eslinger said. “The reason we’re putting [FEMA] people out there on the ground is to actually help people get registered if they’re having problems with the process … experts in the field that you can go talk to about your case.”

It’s unclear where the future FEMA disaster relief teams will go. According to the Disaster Assistance website, relief is being offers in Colfax, Lincoln, Mora, San Miguel and Valencia Counties.