USA — President Bush approved Gov. Rick Perry’s request for a presidential disaster declaration as a result of the wildfire threats facing Texas.
Under the federal Stafford Act, Texans whose homes and property were destroyed or damaged by wildfires are eligible to receive individual assistance. Additionally, local jurisdictions that have been fighting the fires will be eligible for public assistance.
The disaster declaration is effective Dec. 1, when the wildfire threat became severe statewide. Since Dec. 26, more than 450 wildfires have burned nearly 254,000 acres and 340 homes, and forced the evacuation of more than 4,800 Texans.
This presidential disaster declaration replaces Perry’s previous request for an emergency disaster declaration.
U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, R-Texas, also had been pressing Bush to make the disaster declaration.
“Texans have suffered through months of devastating natural disasters,” Hutchison says.
The “declaration by President Bush will help our state rebuild and recover from these fires. While we are currently focusing on this latest devastation, we continue to assist those who remain in need in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.”
Fire hazard conditions are projected to continue or worsen in Texas in the coming weeks.