Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), while taking millions in federal cash to combat epic wildfires, is now accusing President Obama of being overly generous to the victims of the catastrophic tornadoes in Alabama and neighboring states. Perry, who has threatened to secede because of an “oppressive” federal government, is upset that the same government has not honored his request to declare an official state of emergency, but has done so for states like Alabama:
You have to ask, “Why are you taking care of Alabama and other states?” I know our letter didn’t get lost in the mail. There is a point in time where you say, “Hey, what’s going on here?”
Although a state of emergency has not been declared, a significant proportion of the cost of fighting the Texas wildfires is in fact being borne by the federal government Perry loves to scorn. Since February 27th, Texas has received 25 grants under the Fire Management Assistance Grant Program, which provides a 75 percent federal cost share. Texas is also receiving direct firefighting support from “several federal agencies, including the National Park Service,” Reuters reports. Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Holly Huffman informed ThinkProgress that of the estimated $58.9 million in firefighting costs from November 2010 to May 1, 2011 that the service is responsible for, they expect to get reimbursed almost $18.5 million from FEMA.
Although the Texas wildfires — fueled by an historic drought that may become permanent in our warming world — are incredible in scope, with over two million acres burned in 252 of the state’s 254 counties, only 900 buildings have been destroyed and the loss of life has been limited to that of two volunteer firefighters.
The nature of the tornado disaster is very different. Over 300 people were killed in Alabama and six other states in hours by some of the strongest storms this nation has ever seen, crippling communities and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. “Whole neighborhoods of brick homes were completely leveled,” and “bodies of the deceased were still lying in open view, with medical teams unable to reach them because of the staggering amount of debris.” The National Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Red Cross, and other service and disaster relief organizations (including for-profit disaster contractors) are engaged in the multi-billion-dollar recovery effort.
One would think that Perry would applaud the federal government for being responsible with our limited national budget, constrained by the Tea Party ideologues he supports, and using those precious resources for those Americans most in need of emergency assistance.