BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) - When the fires raged across Bastrop during the state's worst fire in history, the Texas National Guard was at the center of it all. The unit helped fire fighting efforts and also aided in training, logistics and maintenance of emergency equipment.
Now, the guard could get hit with cuts of up to $800 million in federal aid.
Mike Fischer, the emergency management coordinator for Bastrop County, said the cuts pose a major problem.
"The Texas National Guard stepped right up to the plate," he said. "Without that, we would have never ever been able to manage this even with that kind of efficiency."
Fisher says the guard, which also worked closely with the Texas Forest Service and any number of emergency services, played a critical role in controlling the fire, including minimizing loss of life. He said they also hold year round training for more than 500 Texas firefighters at nearby Camp Swift each year.
"We needed a place to stage and they opened up their gates out here at Camp Swift for refueling and repair and feeding firefighters and other responders and places to sleep," Fischer said.
The cuts could affect thousands of personnel largely in equipment maintenance, facility maintenance and training. Civilian work forces could go on furlough, potentially hampering the state's ability to handle future disasters like fires, tornadoes and floods.
In addition, the Texas Air Guard could be grounded indefinitely.
"Well, I hope it doesn't happen," Fischer said. "The amount of help they bring to a local community in a disaster by itself is worth keeping that organization alive and well."
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