Gov. Perry: FEMA Aid for Texas Wildfires Comes Up Short
Gov. Rick Perry today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide Texans more assistance in recovering from catastrophic losses and damages from three months of wildfires that have affected about 85 percent of Texas counties.
Since Jan. 1, 2008, more than 5,300 wildfires have burned nearly 940,000 acres and destroyed 140 homes in Texas. Some 216 of Texas’ 254 counties have suffered damage from the wildfires.
After appealing FEMA’s denial of Perry’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration, FEMA granted an Emergency Declaration for Texas. That assistance, however, provides only 75 percent assistance limited to federal fire fighting resources, and does not include reimbursement for the $20.5 million already spent by local and state entities to protect life and property throughout Texas.
“FEMA’s approach to aid for wildfires is fundamentally flawed,” Perry said. “It discourages state and local entities from taking steps to prevent the loss of lives and property by refusing to assist in the preventive efforts.”
In a letter to FEMA Administrator David Paulison, Gov. Perry today called on the federal government to reimburse the state in full for operation efforts carried out since January.
“On behalf of all Texans affected by the ongoing wildfires, I strongly urge FEMA to reconsider its decision to deny our Texas request for aid,” said Gov. Perry.
Gov. Perry continues to request federal aid for:
Individual Assistance including the Individual & Households Program, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, and Small Business Administration Disaster Loans and U.S. Department of Agriculture loans;
Public Assistance, which includes debris removal, emergency protective measures and repair of damage to public structures; and
Hazard Mitigation statewide, which entails actions to strengthen infrastructure against future disasters.
The state currently has the following air resources committed to wildfire response: 6 Air Attack, 5 UH-60s, 1 CH47, 5 Type 1 Helicopters, 1 ASM Aircraft, 3 Air Tankers and 4 SEATS. To provide an effective response for fire suppression operations, the Texas Military Forces and the Texas Forest Service have pre-positioned these aircraft to maximize effectiveness and minimize response time. Since Jan. 9, Texas aircraft have dropped a total of 2.2 million gallons of water and fire retardant.