President Approves Gov. Perry's Disaster Declaration
Gov. Rick Perry today announced that President Bush approved his request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration as a result of the extreme threat of wildfires in all counties across the state. Under the federal Stafford Act, today's action makes Texans whose homes and property were destroyed or damaged by wildfires eligible to receive individual assistance; local jurisdictions that have been fighting the costly fires will be eligible for public assistance. The disaster declaration is effective Dec. 1, when the wildfire threat became severe statewide.
"I am pleased that federal assistance will reach Texans who have lost so much - including homes, loved ones, and businesses - as a result of these wildfires," Perry said. "This is also good news for local governments that have been working around-the-clock to protect lives and property."
In his request, Perry asked that a suite of federal assistance be made available to Texas, including the Individuals and Households Program (IHP), Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Disaster Legal Services, Crisis Counseling, Direct Federal Assistance, Hazard Mitigation, Small Business Administration disaster loans and U.S. Department of Agriculture loans.
Perry also asked that federal public assistance be approved to defray the costs of pre-staging fire fighting assets so that fires could be contained before they threatened lives, homes and communities.
Texas has pre-deployed fire-fighting assets across the state so that we can immediately respond to the blazes wherever they crop up. Today's approval will help defray the costs of our proactive approach, which has saved more than 1,300 homes.
"We will continue to do everything we can to protect lives and property in the days and week ahead," Perry said.
This Presidential Disaster Declaration replaces Perry's earlier request for an emergency disaster declaration and better ensures that Texas is eligible for all available federal assistance.
Since Dec. 26, 456 wildfires have burned nearly 254,000 acres, consumed 340 homes, and forced the evacuation of more than 4,800 individuals in Texas. The state has coordinated a campaign to fight fires from the air with 1,600 aircraft sorties dropping 1.5 million gallons of fire retardant, as well as from the ground with state and out-of-state bulldozer crews assisting local fire fighters.
Fire hazard conditions are projected to continue or worsen in Texas in the coming weeks.