Muskogee County still not on FEMA's disaster declaration list

Wednesday, January 18th 2006, 10:38 am
By: News On 6

In southern Muskogee County, the scorched pastures stretch for miles. News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan visited Wainright and says a New Year’s Day grass fire swept through and burned barns, pasture and hay on the Johnson Ranch.

Bob Murrell figures he's already spent $15,000 to buy hay and rent pasture. "Probably cost another $15,000 to get all the fences back up, depends on how long I have to rent all those pastures."

Even though Muskogee County has had dozens of fires, it's not in the designated disaster area, so individuals don't qualify for federal help. The government considers just a dozen counties as disaster areas. Muskogee County and nearby McIntosh County are not on that list. Because of the drought the pastures didn't have much grass in them, but the fire took what was here and it burned the hay too.

Cattlemen around Wainright can't figure out why FEMA doesn’t consider this a disaster. “We was wondering why Muskogee County didn't get the disaster because this wasn't the only place burnt.” And cattlemen aren't looking for a handout. They don't have insurance because you can't buy it for this kind of disaster. Bart Wiedel with the Muskogee County Cattleman's Association: "But who can insure a pasture for burning off, but shortage of grass or shortage of water, those are things you can't insure for."

The cattlemen's association figures 15,000 acres of acre burned and hundreds of bales of hay.

They believe that's a disaster and they wonder why the government doesn't.