WASHINGTON -- Two senators from Texas have gotten behind Gov. Rick Perry's plea for federal disaster aid for Callahan and six other Texas counties because of wildfires.
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, an expected challenger to Perry in the upcoming election, and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn are urging President Obama to issue a major disaster declaration for the counties.
The Republican senators are asking Obama to respond to the governor's request for aid to individuals, businesses and local governments.
"The declaration is critical to ensuring that important recovery assistance is made available to the residents of Texas who have suffered as a result of these fires," the senators said in a letter to the president.
A combination of drought and strong winds has been catastrophic for hundreds of homeowners, businesses and communities, the letter dated Friday said.
Perry requested a major disaster declaration last week for the counties, noting wildfires have chewed up more than 400,000 acres, destroyed 200 homes and injured or killed a multitude of livestock, a news release said.
The governor's office is still awaiting approval for the major disaster declaration request, Katherine Cesinger, spokeswoman, said Monday.
For individuals, Perry is seeking housing assistance, legal services, unemployment assistance, crisis counseling and Small Business Administration loans.
Perry also asked for reimbursement for state and local governments for positioning equipment and manpower for the fires, as well as help with debris removal and emergency measures.
One thing I have heard about from Rick and some members of the state lege is a bill that would create Texas' own disaster fund to deal with situations like wildfires and hurricanes. I love the idea of Texas being able to deal with its own natural disasters without waiting around and whining about the feds being too slow, year after year. We are Texans, darn it.