We continue to support federal, state, local and tribal efforts to combat the raging wildfires in Texas and California. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities being impacted by these wildfires, and we sincerely thank the firefighters and first responders who have been heroically working around the clock to fight these fires.
Last night, the President called Texas Governor Rick Perry to express his concern for citizens of Texas impacted by the unprecedented fires. During the call the President extended his condolences for the lives that have been lost as a result of these events, and made clear that the federal government, through DHS/FEMA and the U.S. Forest Service, will continue to make federal assistance available, as needed, to state and local officials as they fight the fires. The President also assured the Governor that requests for additional assistance, including as recovery begins, would be quickly assessed.
Bastrop County, TX, September 7, 2011 -- Wildfire damage to a home in Bastrop County, Texas. FEMA is providing assistance to state firefighting efforts through Fire Management Assistance Grants.
As we said in yesterday’s update, at the request of the Governor, the Administration has granted eight Fire Management Assistance Grants in the last several days, making federal funds available to reimburse eligible costs associated with efforts to combat the fires. (Read yesterday’s post for more on our efforts to support the state of Texas during this year’s busy wildfire season.) According to the U.S. Forest Service, there are currently, more than 2,000 U.S. Forest Service federal firefighters and support personnel assigned to the Texas fires.
We’re also actively working with state and local officials to conduct damage assessments and to identify areas where additional federal assistance may be warranted. At the request of the Governor, FEMA, state and local officials have already completed damage assessments in fire affected areas including Bastrop and Williamson counties; and are continuing with assessments beginning today in Colorado, Leon and Travis counties. These assessments are designed to give the governor of the state a better picture of disaster damages, and to determine if a request for further federal support is needed.
And for those who may be affected by the wildfires in Texas or California, here are some tips to remember:
- Listen to and follow the guidance of state and local officials. If authorities order an evacuation, leave immediately, follow evacuation routes announced by local officials.
- Create an area of “defensible space” around your home. Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc.
- If you’re caught in the open during a wildfire, The best temporary shelter is in a sparse fuel area. Clear fuel away from the area while the fire is approaching and then lie face down in the depression and cover yourself. Stay down until after the fire passes.
- Let your family and friends know you’re OK, especially if you’re told to evacuate. In case phone lines are congested, try sending a text message, e-mail, or updating your social networking sites. The American Red Cross Safe and Well site offers another way for disaster survivors to update their status and for family and friends to search for loved ones.
For more information on getting prepared for wildfires, visit www.Ready.gov/wildfires.