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article imageObama rejects Texas’ request for wildfire disaster declaration

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By Lynn Herrmann     May 4, 2011 in Politics
Austin - After a fire burned more than 2.2 million acres of land in the parched state of Texas, President Obama has denied the state’s request of a federal disaster declaration, forcing leading politicians to issue strong statements over the US leader’s decisi
(Note: This article was written in May and does not reflect the current wildfires in Texas)
Governor Rick Perry, in response to the president’s decision, said: “I am dismayed that this administration has denied Texans the much needed assistance they deserve. It is not only the obligation of the federal government, but its responsibility under law to help its citizens in times of emergency,” according to the Houston Chronicle.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a former candidate for state governor, in a statement said: “These wildfires have ravaged 2.2 million acres of Texas land, and it is extremely disappointing the administration has denied critical assistance to our state. We've suffered major agriculture and livestock losses and many Texans have lost their homes. We need to equip communities with all of the tools and resources possible to effectively battle and recover from these fires. I am sure the governor will work with the administration to ensure all the requirements are met for timely delivery of this disaster aid.”
Sen. John Coryny, R-Texas, was equally as adamant with his website statement: “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. 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.”
Both senators have written twice in the past month to the Obama White House, urging the consideration of the Governor’s request.
Federal Emergency Management Administration spokeswoman Rachel Racusen says the Obama administration has been working for moths to help the crisis in Texas. “This administration, through FEMA, has been working closely with the state throughout the duration of these fires, and we are supporting the firefighting efforts,” she said, MySA reports. “In fact, we have already approved 25 fire management assistance grants in recent to help cover expenses for these emergency response efforts, including 19 grants in April,” she added.
That, according to Racusen, is sufficient “at this time” for the state.
One of the largest fires in the state, as reported on earlier by Digital Journal, is the Rockhouse Fire in West Texas. To date, it has burned more than 314,000 acres and is 95 percent contained, according to latest figures from the Texas Forest Service.
Critical fire conditions remain throughout much of the western part of the state, from the Texas panhandle southward into the Permian Basin. A low pressure system advancing from Colorado is expected to push strong southwest winds back into the 20-30 mph range, with gusts over 40 mph across sections of the panhandle.
Most recently, in the Texas Hill Country, a fire in Kimble County has burned more than 10,000 acres and is 75 percent contained. Named the Oasis Fire and located four miles south of Junction, the fire continues to be battled with numerous engines, dozers, and helicopters.
Perry, often at odds with Obama’s leadership, noted Alabama’s tornado disaster declaration and the White House failure to do such for Texas: “Why are you taking care of Alabama, why are you taking care of other states, and for some reason,” and pausing for effect at a San Antonio news conference, adding: “The letter didn’t get lost in the mail.”
Despite such objections, Racusen, the FEMA spokeswoman said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and peers of the fallen firefighters in Texas, and the families and communities being impacted by these wildfires, and we continue to thank the firefighters and first responders who have been heroically working around the clock,” MySA reports. “We will continue to work closely with the state and local emergency management officials as their efforts to contain these fires continue.”
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More about texas wildfires, Texas, Rick perry, Wildfires, federal aid
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