Today, Congressman Blake Farenthold (TX-27) questioned FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, at the Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Hearing- Five Years Later: An Assessment of the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act.
"I take my role on the House Committee on Homeland Security seriously," said Congressman Farenthold. "I could not pass up the opportunity to attend this hearing and question FEMA Administrator Fugate on the federal government's response to the wildfires that have been ravaging Texas for almost a year now."
Congressman Farenthold's question to FEMA Administrator Fugate regarding the wildfires in Texas: Administrator Fugate, we've been plagued in Texas by wildfires for the past year. Of the disasters FEMA faces, wildfires are one that actually can be mitigated while they are going on. So I have a two-part question for you to begin with. First, can you outline what FEMA's responses have been to the wildfires in Texas, and how has FEMA and the federal government as a whole cooperated on bringing the resources necessary to mitigate those fires as they are going on and afterwards?
Administrator Fugate's response to Congressman Farenthold's question: What is happening in Texas though is that the wildfires are merely a symptom. What we have is a sustained long period drought that doesn't seem to be ending. What we have in Texas is a lot of little fires that if you don't get them knocked down quick will grow to the big fires. My concern in Texas is that this is not a situation that is improving and it is not a fire-by-fire, it is the underlying drought, and until that drought breaks my concern is that the wildfire situation in Texas will continue to be active and we have to continue to look at our tools providing assistance both through our interagency process with the U.S. Forrest Service as well as the financial assistance through Fire Management Grants and Declarations.
"Short of praying for rain, I would appreciate if you [Administrator Fugate] and your staff can work with my office and the rest of the Texas Congressional delegation to see what can be done to improve the situation in Texas," said Farenthold.