Texas Gov. Rick Perry laments lack of federal aid for wildfires
April 29th, 2011
04:08 PM ET
12 years ago

Texas Gov. Rick Perry laments lack of federal aid for wildfires

(CNN)- Republican Gov. Rick Perry accused President Obama of neglecting Texas Thursday when he slammed the administration for failing to declare a disaster in the wildfire-damaged state.

"You see hundreds of thousands of acres of Texas burning and you know that there will soon be emergency declarations, and we did that now a couple of weeks ago, but still no response from this administration," he told local news radio station WOAI in an interview.

Perry requested a federal declaration for emergency in Texas on April 16 after destruction from wildfires reached 252 counties in the state. An emergency declaration from the president would clear the path for federal aid to Texas.

Obama approved GOP Gov. Robert Bentley's request for emergency federal assistance in Alabama on Wednesday, the same day it was requested, after a wave of tornados ripped through the state. According to FEMA, emergency declarations are made when "an incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond state and local capabilities and that federal assistance is necessary."

Obama visited Tuscaloosa, Alabama Friday, touring damaged regions of the city. He pledged the federal government would "do everything we can to help these communities rebuild."
"I've never seen devastation like this," the president said.

But Perry aired his frustration over what he perceives as a lack of needed attention to Texas, venting, "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 protested what he views as a lack of response from President Obama 13 days after his request for emergency funds, though federal agencies such as the National Park Service have supplied firefighters to support the state.

"There is a point in time where you say, hey, what's going on here. 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."

But an administration official with knowledge of federal assistance provided to Texas tells CNN the state has been already been allocated 16 fire management assistance grants that provide financial support for the specific purpose of fighting fires. Texas has been approved to receive six more grants of this kind to aid state and local governments with firefighting efforts that include equipment, field camps, mobilizing and demobilizing activities. The most recent fire management grant was approved Wednesday.

Perry has also charged Obama with punishing Texas for his open opposition to administration-led reform on health care and the environment, a charge which the president has denied.

Rachel Racusen, a FEMA spokesperson said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities continuing to be affected by the wildfires in Texas. Governor Perry's request is currently under review, and we will continue our close coordination with the state as they work to protect their residents and communities."

White House spokesman Nick Shapiro contested Perry's claims of neglect, saying, "The administration has greatly been assisting Texas with the fight against the wildfires."

Filed under: President Obama • Rick Perry • Texas
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain

    The Real Tom Paine: I've had the same thought about God punishing the "red" states ... although I don't believe in God that way, it is tempting to think God's trying to tell the Republicans in no uncertain terms that what they're trying to do to our country is wrong.

    April 29, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    The natural disasters – here and abroad – should provide people with ample reason why it's ABSOLUTELY STUPID to not raise the debt ceiling and/or pass a balanced budget amendment.

    Stuff happens – like earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires ... Better to make EVERYONE contribute their fair share (I'm looking at you, rich folks and corporations), so we have some tucked away when the unexpected happens.

    April 29, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    Perry is like a Wall Street firm: privatize profits and socialize losses.

    Well, I got news for you, buddy boy, reality is impacting you pretty straight right now .... HOW DO YOU LIKE IT?

    April 29, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. Shannon

    Wow, these people are unbelievable, first all we hear from this bunch is get big government out of our life. Now all we hear is, where is that big government, I want my share. Hypocrites!

    April 29, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  5. Jeff Campbell

    Go ask your tea-bagger buddies for money, you secessionist anti-American P. O. S.

    April 29, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    Here's the difference between the wildfires in Texas and the tornadoes in Alabama across the South:

    Texas bears some responsibility in not managing their burnable areas better (spending the money on controlled burns; funding fire fighters and equipment; letting people build in fire-prone areas).

    Alabama had absolutely NO CONTROL over the tornadoes happening and where they touched down – destroying whole towns in some cases.

    Texas is also in a better financial position (read: oil revenues) to deal with disasters than Alabama.

    Perry needs to grow a pair and stop whining!

    April 29, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  7. C. Howe Yulikit

    Wow when did Rick Perry become a Socialist? Federal Government interference in Texas? Where's the talk of secession now Cowboy?

    April 29, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  8. OneMoreTime

    @ Everbody:
    Not all Texans voted for this louse.
    Not all Texans want to secede.
    He refused stimulus money for the unemployed because he didn't want to play by the rules
    He refused edcuation money because he doesn't want to play by the rules
    We don't want to keep paying $10,000/mo for his housing while the burned out Governor Residence is being
    restored. A house, I might add, that is State owned, and has no mortgage.
    We don't want our property taxes to go out of sight because we have a 28B budget shortfall. (Why?)
    We tried to get a good, honest man to replace him, but we are stuck in the mire of Teacans, and see no way
    BUT, I love my land, the wild animals that visit, and the clean air. So hanging as long as we can-and praying
    a lot!
    My guess is others are in the same predicament with their Governor's.
    So don't hate all of us, we are not all the same.

    April 29, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. Lou

    Nothing to say because you have all said it.

    April 29, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. Ronald Hussein Reagan

    Stuff like this is what makes life so great.

    April 29, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  11. California Conservative

    Interesting how democrats (Obama) continue to divide the country (democrats vs. republicans). The great divider has cemented his place in history.

    April 29, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
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