WASHINGTON –U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn today pressed for more federal assistance for all 216 Texas counties which have been affected by the wildfires across the state this year. In a letter, the Texas Senators requested that the President approve full reimbursement for the costs associated with response and recovery efforts for all affected counties in Texas.
Since January, 5,300 wildfires have burned nearly 940,000 acres of land in a total of 216 Texas counties. Texas has expended more than $20 million to fight the fires and provide relief to affected communities. Though the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) granted an Emergency Declaration for Texas on March 14, it failed to reimburse the $20 million spent by the state of Texas. It also excluded 32 Texas counties that have sustained damage in the wildfires.
In the letter, the lawmakers wrote:
“We appreciate your efforts to mobilize the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate with State of Texas disaster response personnel. We urge you to extend your March 14, 2008, decision to accommodate…all 216 Texas counties suffering from wildfires since January 7, 2008, and continuing. You may be certain we will work with you and your Administration to aid the victims of this disaster.”
Since the beginning of the year, wildfires in Texas have burned 939,356 acres, threatened 7,271 homes, destroyed 140 homes, and damaged 36 homes.