Archive for June 5th, 2011

by jhwygirl

Arizona’s is having a bit of a fire season down there. Not unusual for the state, really – Arizona has forests. It burns. Really, it should be prepared.

The fires they has going there are apparently stretching the resources of the state, having surpassed a cost of $3 million.

$3 million? Montana can spend that on a 4th of July weekend on a bad year.

Governor Jan Brewer said yesterday that “officials have so far spent some $3 million on efforts to put out the blaze and that she would consider asking the state or federal governments for help if the situation gets worse.”

Montana – even with this last tough legislative session – came out with a budget that includes $23 million for fire fighting efforts (with other funding in there for other emergency management items) for the next two years. Page C-10 of HB2.

I couldn’t find anything on the state’s website regarding fire-fighting costs (more my fault, I’m sure….it’s gotta be there somewhere – I searched the legislative audit stuff), but I did find this report from Headwaters Ecology which shows that just the home-related suppression costs on many recent fires (see page 12) surpasses the $3 million mark.

Montana undoubtedly got help from the feds…I do realize that happens on bad years – but it’s something that happens only for the worse fires, and only after Montana has surpassed its resources.

So if Arizona is busted on wildfire fighting as the bill approaches $3 million, I have to wonder if it was even prepared for something they reasonably should have known was going to happen?

Texas has been denied FEMA assistance for its fires this year. It has gotten money, but not the blanket funding they were looking for on costs that were at $54 million and rising.

Cruel, right? Texas is working on passing a budget that slashes $34 million to its own state fire agency. That’s one third of that agency’s budget.

Texas has forest and scrub land. It burns. Year after year. Nothing different there than Montana or Arizona or anywhere in the west.

Difference is, they seem to be expecting the feds – i.e., you and me – to pick up the tab for their disasters…the ones that they can’t seem to prepare for by providing some reasonable and prudent funding.

Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) is, of course, whining.

Perhaps he hasn’t heard GOP darling and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor say that the only funding the U.S. is going to see for disasters like the historic tornadoes we’ve seen will be offset by cuts elsewhere. Cantor was real comfortable as he said that last Sunday to Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation.

Both Texas and Arizona, it seems to me, have given up on preparing themselves for disasters that they really should be prepared for. Can’t just cut these budgets for things that you know are likely to happen and then whine when the feds deny you FEMA assistance.

Where I see Montana taking a hit – and haven’t seen much on actual cost estimates yet – is the flooding out east…and not really just east, as Judith Basin and Lewistown is seeing some crazy stuff too. The kind of flooding we are seeing this year will historically sit in the top 10 list for many areas…and higher for others.

Without a doubt, the historic flooding we’ve seen has exceeded anything we’ve set aside.




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