Texas Governor Rick Perry on Thursday criticized the United States government for not approving quickly enough a request he put in to FEMA for federal funds to assist the firefighting effort in Texas. Perry requested a federal disaster delcaration two weeks ago and said yesterday “You have to ask, ‘Why are you taking care of Alabama and other states?’ I know our letter didn’t get lost in the mail. There is a point in time where you say, ‘Hey, what’s going on here?”
A federal disaster declaration could reimburse Texas and local governments 75 percent of the cost of their firefighting response.
Governor Perry has not been on the best of terms with the federal government. Several times he has flirted with the concept of Texas seceding from the United States. President Obama said last week during an interview with a Dallas TV station, ”Governor Perry helped balance his budget with about $6 billion worth of federal help – which he happily took – and then started blaming the members of Congress who had offered that help,” Obama told WFAA, referring to 2009 federal stimulus funds.
Currently firefighters from 35 states, many of them federal firefighters, have traveled to Texas to help Governor Perry and the citizens of Texas with their fires. In addition, two Type 1 Incident Management Teams and one Type 2 Incident Management Team from outside the state, as well as four military MAFFS air tankers, are assisting the state of Texas.
Federal government has given over $39 million in fire grants to Texas
During the 2009 and 2010 award periods, the federal Department of Homeland Security through FEMA awarded $39,747,075 to Texas fire departments and state organizations for firefighting, through the Assistance to Firefighter Grants, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants, Fire Prevention and Safety Grants, and Fire Station Construction Grants. That dollar amount does not include complete data for two of the grant programs (FP&S and FSC) which have not yet provided their information for the 2010 grant application period. In 2009 those two grant programs gave a total of $4,339,014 to Texas.
A couple billion dollars in the Texas rainy day fund
At the Texas Emergency Management Conference yesterday, the governor said: ”If you hit Houston with a Category 4 or 5 (hurricane), and we’ve only got a couple billion dollars in the rainy day fund, instead of going in and rebuilding and recovering, we’re talking about bankruptcy,” Perry said. “That’s the choice that we have here.”
It’s “raining” fire in Texas, but Governor Perry would rather use tax money generated by the other 49 states, than tap into his rainy day fund. If Texas secedes from the United States, I wonder if the state will then request Foreign Aid.
UPDATE at 11:30 a.m., May 5, 2011:
More information about this can be found here, including the fact that Texas has received 25 FEMA grants for wildfire assistance so far this year.