September 19, 2011

Finally some rain

Eight tenths at the barn, but some got a couple of inches. Texans are always grateful for rain, but this time around it is sorely needed. For many though, it is too little... to late.

The wildfires this season likely have been more destructive than anything the state has seen in many years. As far as property loss the hurricanes cost more, but in measurable and long-term damage to our economy, this fire season takes all honors.

The Insurance Institute, in a September 6th report citing the catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide,  that "fire crews in Texas have fought nearly 19,000 wildfires since the beginning of this year. Approximately 3.6 million acres-an area the size of Connecticut-have been consumed in the state, accounting for nearly half of all the acreage burned by wildfires in the entire United States this year."

The Bastrop County fire remains active, but is said to be about 80% contained. This was the most recent of the major fires, killing at least two, destroying over 1,600 homes, damaged hundreds of others and displacing the residents, and scorched over 34,000 acres. To put that into perspective, the population of the county is under 75,000 and there were roughly 26,000 residences at the end or 2010.  

You'd have to be here to understand the sheer scope of  misery and damage, but the following photos will shed some light.

The greatest majority of firefighting in these efforts is done by small, rural volunteer fire departments. One of those volunteers died while trying to help control the first Possum Kingdom wildfire earlier this year. Another was fighting that same fire trying to save the homes of folks he didn't even know... as a few miles away his own home burned to the ground. This kind of dedication to community is well appreciated by every Texan...

...except of course our dear Guv. goodhair and them good old girls and boys in the Texas Lege. In their unceasing dedication to shrinking government, funding for volunteer firefighters was slashed by 75%.


Old Weird Libra said...

One of your Sunday editorial panels about the Forest Service, by Branch, spoke directly to this.