USA — BASTROP, Texas – Fifteen months after the worst wildfire in Texas history, Bastrop officials assessed their recovery progress on Wednesday.
The bottom line is progress is being made but they need more money.
71,000 dangerous, charred trees have been removed, and 300,000 seedlings have been planted.
64,000 tons of debris have been hauled away but an equal amount remains.
Most of this has been accomplished with local and federal money but the county will be asking the new legislature for $14 million.
County Judge Paul Pape says, “If voters contact their legislators and tell them they’re behind this, that will mean a lot.”
The county also credits the Lower Colorado River Authority for its $5 million donation. That made matching federal funds possible.
715 homes have been rebuilt, 34 of those by the Bastrop Long Term Recovery team. Its president, Christine Files says, “It’s staggering, but you have to start someplace. Since January we’ve built more than one house every two weeks.”
The approximate 1,640 families that lost their homes still feel the pain.
Former County Judge Randy Fritz lost his. He says, It was terrible. I don’t live in that area any more. I don’t go there any more. I can’t. The failure was in the forest areas.Advertisement
Following a 10-year strategy, ACT fire managers have created a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels, burning at every opportunity.
But forests have been too wet to burn this spring and the past two summers.
A network of 500 fire trails and strategic burns along the north-west urban edge, heavy grazing and extra grass slashing will create a fortress for the territory which forecasters say faces a higher than average risk this summer.
After a fire-fuelled tornado in January 2003 killed four Canberrans and frightened thousands more, CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney told the subsequent inquiry the fire’s penetration into urban areas under extreme conditions did not reflect a failure of fuel management on the urban interface.