Austin
4:51 pm
Wed September 7, 2011

Texas to Request Major Disaster Declaration from Feds

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst will ask the federal government to declare a major disaster in Texas due to the wildfires burning across the state.

Dewhurst toured some of the damage and met with some evacuees in Bastrop today, where the worst fire is still not fully contained. Afterward, Dewhurst told the press, "I am signing the request for major disaster relief for Texas to be declared a national disaster because of these fires."

More than 34,000 acres have burned and the Texas Forest Service says as many as a thousand homes have been lost in the Bastrop fire alone.

Federal aid is already en route to Bastrop County and all Central Texas areas affected by wildfires this week.

In an interview with KUT, Gardner Selby of the Austin American-Statesman's PolitiFact unit explained, "The firefighting grants are focused on reimbursing and helping communities actually for the firefighting costs directly, covering 75 percent of those costs. If you apply for a disaster declaration and get that, depending on what you’re requesting within that declaration, the potential is there for getting more broad-based aid."