TEXAS WILDFIRES: IT’S NOT OVER
Six months ago, I wrote to express my thanks to our first responders, our volunteer and professional Texas firefighters and our many fine state agencies supporting the amazing battle against wildfires that began earlier this year. Few of us realized that the battle would continue, expand and destroy homes and property for many months to come. It is not over yet.
From county to county, town to town, neighborhood to neighborhood, our firefighters have responded to an unprecedented series of wildfire outbreaks. From December 21, 2010 to October 2, 2011, they responded to 24,258 fires that burned 3,789,484 acres. During that time period, 35,657 homes were saved while 2,828 homes were lost. The total cost to the state is more than $300 million.
The voluntary groups, local officials, state and federal agencies and private sector partners who work with us have spent countless hours supporting our fire ravaged communities and the people who have lost their homes and possessions in a matter of minutes. They will continue to work in the weeks and months ahead to ensure that eligible residents receive a variety of state and federal assistance to help them get back on their feet.
We don’t like to think that there are gaps in the safety net provided by various forms of state and federal assistance, but the truth is that government assistance can only go so far. That’s why community based Long-Term Recovery Committees (LTRCs) play such an important role in our recovery scenario. LTRCs are made up of a variety of local and state agencies, but local civic organizations, faith-based institutions, and local non-profit voluntary agencies who know the area best constitute the LTRC backbone. The benefit is that, because they are local, they can hit the ground running when disaster strikes. They will still be in place, continuing to coordinate assistance needed by local residents, long after other agencies have completed their missions. They play a key role in helping residents who might otherwise fall through the gaps.
I urge you all to learn more about the important part that LTRCs can play in helping your communities before disaster strikes. You may find more information about LTRCs and Texas wildfires by clicking on the following links.
Chief W. Nim Kidd, CEM®
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