Texas Governor Rick Perry expects rapid federal relief for the North Texas communities ravaged by Tuesday’s tornadoes. KERA’s Bill Zeeble reports Perry met with Lancaster residents, where hundreds of homes sustained twister damage and many were destroyed.
On a bright, cool morning, Governor Perry flew over parts of tornado-torn Arlington, Forney and Lancaster. Then in Lancaster he walked and talked with residents on a street with flipped cars, ripped-up roofs, and home lots with rubble instead of houses.
Perry: From the standpoint of consolidation of numbers, right through here is probably the most impacted of this storm. This thing was 7.1 miles long, 200 yards wide.
At the lectern, Perry called the first responders heroes, and said the same applied to regular folks who helped their neighbors.
Perry: It’s stunning the amount of devastation and then a hundred yards over it looks like another beautiful Bluebird day in Texas. When it comes to grace under pressure I don’t think there really is a better example of it than our first responders. I want to thank them for their efforts, their determination. There is no one better than Texas at dealing with emergencies. That’s a fact. Our first responders in particular are the best in the country.
Perry said Kaufman, Tarrant, and Dallas counties are working with his office to expedite paperwork needed for a federal disaster declaration. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says he’s also been in touch with the White House about disaster relief.
Jenkins: I hope FEMA will get paperwork late today from Governor’s office. It’ll take them less than 24 hours to get it to the White House. The lowest threshold for assistance is 25 uninsured homes in a county that sustained 40 percent or more of damage. I think we’ve met that threshold.
Federal assistance would include super low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration. That’s the kind of help Mandel Allen could use.
Allen: I lost a shop, part of my garage is gone. Some tools and stuff like that. It hurt me pretty good.
Allen, who talked to the Governor, said Perry promised him and the tornado victims all the assistance they would need.
Allen: And I’m ok with that.
Residents here were excited to see the Governor, and said federal relief would be welcomed as soon as it arrives.