LIVE: Texas Governor Greg Abbott holds a wildfires briefing

LIVE: Texas Governor Greg Abbott holds a wildfires briefing

Governor Abbott's Response to the Wildfires

  • Governor Abbott expressed gratitude to everyone involved in the response and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the devastating wildfires in the Texas Panhandle.
  • He visited the region to address the situation and provide an update on the state's response.
  • Governor Abbott has issued a disaster declaration, requested funds from relevant agencies, and approved waivers to expedite the recovery process.

Collaboration and Support

  • Collaboration is crucial to finding immediate and temporary housing solutions for displaced individuals, with organizations like the Red Cross, local churches, and state foundations working on this.
  • The state has mobilized resources from various regions to support firefighting efforts, including ground resources, heavy equipment, and aircraft.
  • Hutchinson County Judge Cindy Irwin thanked Governor Abbott and the various agencies for their support and praised the local emergency management and volunteer fire departments for their efforts in containing the fires.
  • Al Davis, Director of the Texas A&M Forest Service, highlighted the importance of collaboration between state agencies, local responders, and emergency management in addressing the wildfires.
  • Chief Nim Kidd, Director of the Texas A&M Forest Service, emphasized the need for continued support for local firefighters and first responders.

Fire Safety and Prevention

  • The region is experiencing extraordinarily high winds, making it challenging for aircraft to fly and deliver retardant or water to contain the fires.
  • Chief Kidd stressed the importance of fire awareness and weather awareness, urging residents to follow evacuation orders for their safety.
  • He also emphasized the need to prevent new wildfires, as over 90% are human-caused, and requested the public's help in achieving this goal.
  • Texas A&M Forest Service has grants for homeowners to be firewise and mitigate risks around their homes.

Recovery and Assistance

  • The recovery mission will be long-term, involving faith-based organizations for sheltering, temporary housing, and collaboration with state and federal agencies for housing assistance.
  • Donations are appreciated, and cash is the most efficient form of support.
  • The state is prepared to take necessary actions to address the losses incurred by ranchers and farmers, including exploring available grant funds and providing support through Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agents.
  • The state is working with foundations to help people rebuild homes.

Ongoing Challenges

  • The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
  • The damage assessment is ongoing as some areas are still smoldering and difficult to access.
  • The fire perimeter is over 550 miles, and the wind picking up and relative humidity decreasing can cause embers to spread.
  • Containment percentages should not lead to a false sense of security, and fire weather is expected to be active over the weekend.
  • Air support was not provided initially, which highlights the need for better equipment and personnel to prevent future fires.

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