Thank you for being here.
This has been a long and difficult series of days for all too many Texans whose lives have been dramatically affected by the wildfires raging across Texas, and for the brave men and women fighting the flames.
Riding into Bastrop today was a positively surreal experience.
You hear the reports, see the video and pictures, but the impact of what's happening here and at other places across Texas doesn't become clear until you see the devastation first-hand.
Unfortunately, once again, the disastrous combination of fire, exceedingly dry conditions and high winds has led to the displacement of thousands of Texans and the devastation of more than 32,000 acres this weekend alone.
It's part of a wildfire season like we've never witnessed, from Palo Pinto County to Jeff Davis County to right here in Central Texas, with more than 3.5 million acres burned since I first declared a statewide disaster last December, an area roughly the size of the entire state of Connecticut.
These fires have destroyed more than 1,000 homes, uprooting the lives of individuals and families from across the Lone Star State.
In response to these immediate fires, Texas has deployed a wide variety of ground and air-based resources across affected areas, including at least 15 single-engine air tankers, 2 Chinook helicopters and 4 Blackhawk helicopters, as part of a cooperative effort between the Texas Forest Service, Texas Military Forces, the Department of Public Safety and TxDOT, among others.
We've got a long way to go until this immediate crisis is contained.
To that end, all Texans should heed all warnings relating to anything that might cause a brushfire.
At this point, I'm urging everyone to avoid any outdoor activity that could conceivably start a fire because you truly have no idea how quickly it can spread until you see it happen.
When conditions are as dry as they have been in Texas this year, all it takes is one spark to lay waste to countless homes, leading to the loss of lives, pets and livestock, and the legacy of generations.
I urge anyone in harm's way to follow instructions relating to evacuation orders and find your way to safety when fire threatens.
As cherished as homes and possessions may be, they're not worth losing your life over.
I'd also like to thank those of you in the media who have been passing along vital information to those in affected areas, and urge Texans to stay tuned to their reports about where wildfires are and what direction they're moving.
Of course, as always, there are those who are laying their lives on the line in the defense of their fellow Texans, the heroic firefighters who are working so diligently along the front lines.
These brave individuals are stretched thin, many of them working to the point of exhaustion, both physically and emotionally.
To our firefighters, I remind them that the gratitude of an entire state is with them, along with prayers for their well-being and success in their mission.
Our hopes and prayers are also with those displaced by these fires, and with those who lost so much this weekend.
As Texans do, your neighbors and your extended family throughout the state stand ready to pitch in and assist in whatever fashion we can manage to help you pick up the pieces and rebuild your homes, your communities and your lives.