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County qualifies for FEMA funds to ease VFD expenses

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Dozer operator Jack Pickett cuts a fire guard with support from a Jolly VFD brush truck during the Dark Hollow Fire Sept. 13. Clay County has qualified for FEMA funding to assist in covering the expense of fighting wildfires that have occurred since Aug. 30.

 
By Matt Kelton
Pioneer Sentinel

Clay is among 12 counties eligible to receive assistance from FEMA in recuperating from recent wildfires in the state.

According to a FEMA press release dated Nov. 3, the administration will provide the state with Public Assistance Grant Program funds to cover 75 percent of eligible costs to the state, which will then use the funds to reimburse qualifying fire departments. The VFDs are left to cover the remaining 25 percent. Clay County is eligible for the funds because it was included in a federal disaster declaration.

County Judge Kenneth Liggett, who was first notified of the relief funds by Becky Pursur, district coordinator for the DPS Division of Emergency Management, said the funds are for wildfires after Aug. 29. Clay County was deemed a federal disaster area following the Sept. 13 Manton Road and Dark Hollow fires, which burned several thousand acres between Bellevue and the Jack County line.

Liggett and Kent Neville, emergency management coordinator for Clay County, will be with FEMA Nov. 16 for a “preliminary information meeting”, the first step in claiming the funds.

Liggett said it will help that many of the volunteer fire departments in Clay County have already began filling out the necessary paper work in anticipation of qualifying.

He said the county has not been notified of how much the county will receive.

The county had already qualified for funds to assist departments with fires in the spring. Liggett said he expects the fire departments to receive money for those fires as early as January.

According to the press release, the PA Grant Program helps reimburse the state and its agencies, local governments, and some private non-profit organizations for the cost of removing wildfire-related debris from public rights-of-way, and for measures taken by state and local emergency responders to protect lives and property before, during and after the blazes.

The PA program also helps defray the cost of repairing roads, public buildings, utilities and other public infrastructure damaged or destroyed as a result of widlfires.

Other counties included are Briscoe, Coryell, Edwards, Hall, Howard, Kimble, Menard, Montague, Nolan, Sutton and Wise.

Counties reviously designated for the PA program are Anderson, Bastrop, Cass, Cherokee, Colorado, Gregg, Harrison, Henderson, Hill, Houston, Leon, Marion, Morris, Navarro, Panola, Rusk, Smith, Upshur and Walker.

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The Pioneer Sentinel is an online newspaper designed to deliver the news of Clay County, Texas, in a concise and community-friendly format.

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