BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) - Gov. Rick Perry canceled a walkthrough of destroyed Bastrop neighborhoods Saturday afternoon and then was a no-show at a press conference where residents and media waited for his arrival.
Afterward, Perry's press secretary Allison Castle was peppered with questions by media and residents. Logistical issues and a late change in the location were factors in the governor's absence, Castle said.
"I don't know what to think," said Frans Hendricks, a business owner who lost his home and chocolate business in the Bastrop fire.
The anger and confusion of residents overshadowed the good news that FEMA officials had arrived . As of Saturday afternoon, the fire was 50 percent contained.
"We've been working with local officials to find the most appropriate location (for this press conference)," Castle told reporters. "By the time we were able to get the location finalized and certain that this would be it, it would have taken the governor longer, and we did not want to hold up the press conference."
The location for the press conference, announced for Saturday afternoon, was at what is now a burned down chocolate shop off Highway 71 in Bastrop. Castle told KXAN that Perry, considered the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, was in Austin, only a 25-minute drive away.
"He (Perry) is in constant contact with the governor's office, with his chief of staff. We have been in touch with FEMA," Castle added.
Hendricks, who lost the chocolate shop and his home in the fire, was expecting Perry.
"I don't know what to think (about Perry not being here)," said Hendricks. "I've lost everything, so at the moment I have nothing. I am taking it day by day."
After Perry's no-show, the press conference turned into an update discussing vouchers being given to displaced residents to help them get out of shelters.
County Judge Ronnie McDonald said 182 vouchers have already been issued.
"It allows them to move past a point of destruction to try and get to some normally," said McDonald. "We realize this is going to be a long process."
A parade of officials spoke to the media.
"This is not the end of what we are doing, this is just the beginning of a very long recovery process," explained state emergency management chief Nim Kidd.
Meanwhile, across town, residents were waiting to re-enter their neighborhoods once the area was deemed saffe. They picked up wrist bands and placards for their cars, needed to re-enter their neighborhoods, at Wal-Mart, Tractor Supply Co., Lowe's and Home Depot.
Residents must show proof of residency to get placards and wrist band. Only resident in the Chapel Hill neighborhood have been allowed back into their neighborhood.
Officials did confirm that 622 houses were destroyed, and that number is expected to rise to more than 1,400.
Danny Robbins lives on Circle D Road and already knows his home is still standing.
"We are hanging in there you know," said Robbins while picking up a placard. "We are trying to help out people that is less fortunate, but we can only do so much."
There are now lists up at the Bastrop Convention Center where displaced residents can check by zip code if their home is still standing. Not all zip codes are up yet because fire crews are still assessing charred areas.
Those who wish to file a claim with FEMA should visit their website for information or call 1-800-621-FEMA to register.
Placards and wrist bands will also be available for pick-up on September 11 at the four designated location listed above.
Sub-freezing temperatures are forecast to continue in many areas through Sunday morning. Combined with an overrunning moisture pattern and upper level disturbance, some light freezing drizzle or sleet may form Saturday into Sunday morning.
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Sub-freezing temperatures and an approaching upper level disturbance could combine to produce some patchy freezing drizzle or sleet Saturday and early Sunday morning.