House bill passed to help 2011 Bastrop wildfire victims

House bill passed to help 2011 Bastrop wildfire victims

24 May 2013

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USA — Twenty months after the Labor Day weekend wildfires in Bastrop set the community back $380 million, legislation worth $185 million is making its way through the Capitol chambers.
Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson represents portions of Bastrop County that went up in smoke back in 2011. Of the approved $185 million for statewide relief, Bastrop will receive $10 million, via the Rainy Day Fund.

“We had to work pretty hard to get there, but the good news is we got there,” Sen. Watson said. “We’ve got two pots of money that is going be going to Bastrop County. One is specifically directed at the Bastrop State Park.”

House Bill 1025 will send $4.9 million for the park’s rehabilitation. Another $4.4 million would go to repair roads, bridges, debris removal and replanting trees.

“We got everything we asked for in both pots of money so we are very pleased,” Sen. Watson said.

Bastrop County Commissioner Clara Beckett is pleased state money is closer to finding its way to the local level, but was disappointed it didn’t come more quickly.

The Texas legislature only meets every other year, and the fires in Bastrop started just after session wrapped.

“It’s been a long time coming.” Beckett said.

The Bastrop commissioner didn’t have much hope in FEMA right after the fires, either. Her opinion was changed after FEMA shelled out $60 million, essentially covering 75 percent of cleanup costs.

As for the long-awaited state funds, the final appropriations vote is expected as soon as Friday. Then, it’s up to Gov. Perry to sign the bill into law.

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