The wildfires in Texas have killed three people and destroyed millions of acres of grasslands, numerous businesses, and hundreds of homes. This wildfire season, compounded by an extended drought and unusually high winds this spring, has been the worst on record. It has been so bad, in fact, that Governor Perry has petitioned the federal government for additional assistance.
Governor Perry’s request has, of course, brought out gleeful commentators who like to remind us that the governor wanted the federal government to keep out and not meddle in Texas. See “Texas wildfires lead gov to role reversal, now seeks federal aid.”
According to OA Online in an article on May 2, “State still seeks more federal funds for wildfires“, FEMA spokesperson Rachel Rascusson responded to Perry’s requests as follows: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities continuing to be affected by the wildfires in Texas. During this hazardous fire season, the federal government has been supporting the state and local governments with 22 fire management assistance grants, including one fire grant that was approved for the state last Wednesday,” Racusen said.
Perry’s letter stated the FEMA grants cover less than 15 percent of the total costs to respond to a fire.
Well, it seems our governor and President Obama are not exactly on the friendliest of terms, and have not been for quite some time. See a Fox News article about the governor’s “snub” by Obama on his last visit to Texas.
Now I ask you, isn’t it a bit ridiculous to “play politics” at a time like this? I’m not the only one asking this question. I came across a blog piece on American Thinker, (which has a blurb at the top blaming the tornadoes on global warming, but putting that aside for the moment…). The blog piece discusses the politics at play with regard to disaster relief for Texas. Reuters reports:
“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,” Perry, a Republican and frequent critic of the federal government, said after addressing a Texas emergency management conference. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency for Alabama, where storms — including a tornado that ravaged Tuscaloosa on Wednesday — killed nearly 200 people this week. The White House said Obama will visit the state on Friday.
“There is a point in time where you say, ‘Hey, what’s going on here?'” Perry said. Perry had requested a federal declaration of emergency for Texas as the wildfires began to rage across the large state. The request has not been answered, although several federal agencies are supplying firefighters.
“They watch TV, they know what’s going on here, they can recognize that there is going to be a request for assistance, a request for help,” Perry said.
Okay, enough already. We have a serious situation with lives, property, and livlihoods at stake. Let’s quit the quibbling and get back to business. We’re a big state with a big disaster on our hands. Let’s see that we get the help we need. Fire season isn’t over yet. Our congressmen need to be on the ball with this, and if aid isn’t forthcoming, and soon, there needs to be a federal investigation investigation to find out why we aren’t getting what we so desperately need to combat the fires consuming our state.