May 4, 2011 1 Comment ›› Pat Dollard
Dallas (AP) – Gov. Rick Perry said late Tuesday night that the White House rejected his request for a federal major disaster declaration for areas of Texas affected by recent wildfires, but FEMA says they’ve already provided Texas assistance.
“I am dismayed that this administration has denied Texans the much needed assistance they deserve,” Perry said. “It is not only the obligation of the federal government, but its responsibility under law to help its citizens in times of emergency.”
“It is not only the obligation of the federal government, but its responsibility under law to help its citizens in times of emergency,” he said.
Perry said the state would consider its options.
The governor isn’t alone in his fight for funds for Texas. Twice in the past month U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison have written to the Administration urging them to honor Perry’s request.
“When nearly 7,000 individual wildfires burn through more than 2.2. million acres, result in loss of life, and destroy homes, businesses, farms and ranches across the state, it’s hard to understand how these conditions don’t spell ‘disaster’ for this Administration,” said Cornyn on Wednesday. “We’ve yet to enter the hottest months of the year and already wildfires have wreaked havoc in Texas – yet our state has not received sufficient federal disaster aid. I will not stop fighting until Texas receives its due attention from President Obama and his Administration.”
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Last week, Perry criticized President Barack Obama’s administration for its speedy disaster declarations for areas hit by the tornadoes in the South that killed more than 300 people while Texas’ request went unanswered.
“You have to ask, ‘Why are you taking care of Alabama and other states?’ I know our letter didn’t get lost in the mail,” Perry said Thursday.
His April 17 request for a disaster declaration for nearly all of the state’s counties came before last week’s wave of tornadoes and other damaging storms.
A “major disaster declaration” would have made the state eligible for help in responding to and recovering from the emergency.
Two firefighters died in separate incidents in April. Elias Macias Jaquez, who volunteered with the Cactus department, suffered severe burns. Gregory Mack Simmons, who was an Eastland firefighter, was killed after apparently being hit by a vehicle while in a smoke-filled area.
More than 200 Texas counties have outdoor burn bans as scattered wildfires continue. West Texas remains critically dry, according to the Texas Forest Service.