Grimes Co. seeks disaster declaration from governor

June 26, 2011 1:18:16 PM PDT
Grimes County recovery efforts continued Sunday day for dozens of residents who recently returned to their homes after a massive wildfire. The Dyer Mill fire in Grimes County consumed more than 5,000 acres and destroyed about 30 homes.

The American Red Cross has been helping people for days. On Sunday, county officials requested additional assistance from Austin.

County Judge Betty Shiflett said she declared Grimes County a disaster area last week and she has now heard back from Gov. Rick Perry's office on another disaster declaration.

Shiflett said the first disaster declaration will allow the county to receive money from the state government.

She called a special meeting of the commissioners court Sunday to discuss the need for a declaration from Perry's office.

A declaration from the state would open the door to the county receiving federal assistance, Shiflett said.

The commissioners on Sunday voted to extend the judge's disaster declaration until further notice and to ban the sale and use of all fireworks until July 5.

Meanwhile, Red Cross says donations have been pouring in to help the fire victims

It was a one-stop shop of sorts Saturday. Red Cross, along with the Southern Baptist Relief Team and other nonprofit agencies, passed out cases of water, cleaning supplies and furniture to families who have nothing left.

Those fire victims were also able to apply for financial assistance.

"Some families don't have a thing left. This is just giving them a small start at having a normal life," volunteer Donnie Leonberg with First Baptist Church of Navasota said.

It was an emotional day for people like Linda Shidler, who won't forget the way she lost her home on Father's Day.

"We lost everything in the fire, and you're helping everybody. I know there are so many people in my shoes that are out there, and we so appreciate you being here," Shidler said to volunteers.

Shidler and others say they are grateful for the help. Red Cross thanks the community for its help.

The cost of the East Texas wildfires is going to be in the millions of dollars.

About $2.5 million worth of timber was destroyed in the Grimes County wildfire alone. Polk and Trinity Counties lost about $12.8 million in timber because of a wildfire. That timber could have been used to make lumber, plywood and paper.

The wildfires have destroyed at least 47 homes.

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