Feds Reject Disaster Status For Texas Wildfires

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is defending its decision to refuse to provide more assistance to Texas after devastating wildfires, which have scorched at least 2.2 million acres since November.

Rachel Racusen, a spokeswoman for FEMA, said Wednesday that federal assistance had already been provided to Texas through grants for response activities. There is no need for additional support at this time, she said, based on information provided by the state. “Over the past few months, FEMA has awarded over 20 fire management grants to the state, which provide targeted funding to help with firefighting efforts,” Racusen said, “including 16 in April alone.”

Indeed, a federal disaster management team was brought in to coordinate a response to a massive wildfire near Possum Kingdom Lake last month. That wildfire alone blackened hundreds of thousands of acres and destroyed more than 150 homes. The federal team, which included the U.S. Forest Service, was able to get the fire contained.

Racusen added that FEMA will continue to work closely with state and local emergency management officials.

A federal disaster declaration would have made Texas eligible for response and recovery assistance from the federal government. The state’s original request included a plea for direct federal assistance which includes, among other things, firefighting resources and emergency measures to protect public health and private property.

The request was to assist with the ongoing wildfire season, which has already spawned about 9,000 fires and led to the deaths of two firefighters – in separate incidents — in April. More than 200 Texas counties are under outdoor burn bans and the Texas Forest Service said that West Text remains critically dry.

Gov. Rick Perry criticized the White House late Tuesday for rejecting his April 16 request for a federal disaster declaration and additional help, which was submitted before deadly tornadoes swept across Alabama. Perry said that he is “dismayed that this administration has denied Texans the much-needed assistance they deserve. It is not only the obligation of the federal government, but it’s the responsibility under law to help its citizens in times of emergency.”

It is rather ironic that Perry – known to be intensely critical of federal involvement in state affairs – is now upset that federal officials are not getting involved. CBS 11 News was told that the Governor’s office is considering an appeal of the denial, which must happen within 30 days.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. Millie says:

    Robbie Owens, are you a reporter or a commentator? Your facial expessions and “ironic” comment was not news — but showed your political alliance in my opinion — and – I was very disappointed that your comment was even allowed by the management. As I have always admired you — I was very disappointed.

  2. C.L. Henderson says:

    I guess Guvn’r Quickdraw McGraw figures that Texas kids don’t need federal money, since they don’t vote Republican… but ranchers do! Only an idiot like Quickdraw would bite one of the feeding hands, while begging from the other…

  3. JO MO says:

    IF I REMEMBER PERRY SAYING TEXAS DOES NOT NEED ANY HELP FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, AND TURNED DOWN MONIES , BUT SINCE HE WILL NOT GO INTO THE RAINY DAY FUND AND DOES NOT FEEL TEACHERS ARE THE OBLIGATION OF HIS DUTIES, TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR RENTAL OF HIS QUARTERS WHILE THE MANSION IS BEING REPAIRD DOES NOTHING FOR FISCAL RESPONSIBLITY, THIS NUT IS JUST TOO MUCH

  4. NoObamaIn2012 says:

    He turned down Federal Stimulus monies because of the political requirements attached to it, and the additional long term state level funding (that is those of us who actually pay taxes in Texas) over a long term. Emergency Management funds are not political, do not have long term local extended funding attached to them. However, again bama made it political. bama continues to drive the economy of the rest of the country in the ground, and maybe this is his way of giving us a stab in the back. He knows he will not win Texas in 2012 so why should he bother with us. No problem though, because he will not be re-elected. His little role in killing bin ladin will be long forgotton in November 2012 when we are paying $12 for a gallon of gas, unemployment is 12 %, underemployment is at 30%, the dollar has colapsed, inflation has dramatically devalued our retirement funds and savings and 4 out of 10 homes are in foreclosure.

  5. Bryan says:

    Can’t have it both way’s Quickdraw! You can’t grandstand on how we Texans don’t need Federal intervention on Monday, then go running to the White House with hands out on Tuesday. That you’re “dismayed” at this reaction is a bit bewildering to those of us on the sidelines…it’s the same way I treat children in my household.

    1. C Bauer says:

      That’s a stupid argument, Bryan. You’re AssUMing that conservatives don’t want Texas to be involved in any way with the Federal Government. I am not one of those people. Truth be told, the reason for this is because Texas is a red state (which is ironic, since red is considered to be a commie color). It’s all politics, baby, on every level. I’d love for the Feds to give us more money for this disaster, but look who we voted for in 2008.

  6. Kim Dar says:

    Don’t ever bite the hand that you might have to ask for help from idiot. I can believe it. You are a complete idiot for even asking for it because we knew the way it would turn out. Use the rainy day fund for what you need. Perry acts like the rainy day fund is his own personal slush fund to only be used for his pet purposes. Get over it. You turned down education money (now that would have really helped our schools), you turned down money to help the unemployeed, etc. You have criticized and ridiculed and now you are reaping what you sowed. Don’t just sit there and whine about it. Shut up and take your lumps and learn from it. Be nicer in the future.

  7. jack y says:

    Those grants that Perry turned down had too many strings attached. There is a large group of teachers who are losing their jobs because the grant money that created these jobs has run out. There is a big difference between ”grants” and “emergency funds”. But, no matter which party is in power, we have always beenable to send all kinds of free aid over overseas while here at home all we do is offer “low interest loans”

  8. Billy Don Everett says:

    There is no defending Perry’s decision to accept stimulus funds. Those funds would have put a lot of people to work and improved a lot of infrastructure. Perry wanted to use the money to offset the budget shortfall created by Perry and the Republican legislature. He misused the stimulus funds he accepted. Don’t forget this is the midget mind that wants to secede.

  9. The Legendary Jim Parks says:

    I deny the allegations, and I defy the allegators.

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