ASHLAND, KS – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) Friday surveyed damage from historical and unprecedented wildfires in Southwest Kansas.
“I met with Vice President Pence yesterday and briefed him on the unprecedented amount of destruction Kansans have suffered, especially our farmers and ranchers in Clark County,” Roberts said. “Today I am seeing the damage for myself in Englewood and Ashland. It tears at your heartstrings to meet with people who have lost their homes, ranches and farms. To see one of the most picturesque Kansas landscapes turn to black and dust is jolting.
“All of those I met with today in Clark County are thankful the lives of their friends and families were spared. The Kansas spirit as embodied by our motto, To the Stars through Difficulty – Ad astra per aspera — is amazing.
“Kansans from Ashland told me it survived because of volunteer firefighters with a little luck and help from the Lord. There is lots of faith and courage to keep going here. So many will have to start over.”
As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Roberts received a firsthand look at the emergency response. He reassured farmers and ranchers that federal help would be available for many who suffered total losses of homes, property and livestock.
Clark County, Kan., officials estimate 3,000-9,000 head of cattle are dead requiring a huge environmental and health clean-up effort. Clark County was hardest hit by the windblown fires with over 85 percent of land in the county consumed. Over 861 square miles of land was burned in Comanche and Clark counties alone. Fires were burning in 23 counties during this period. The previous record fire was last year’s Anderson Creek Fire, which burned 488 square miles.
Senator Roberts toured the area with Sheriff John Ketron of Clark County and Major General Lee Tafanelli, the Adjutant General of Kansas.
“I have been in contact with producer groups in Kansas, such as the Kansas Livestock Association and Kansas Farm Bureau, who, along with state agencies, have been leading in the volunteer relief effort,” Roberts said. “I commend them for their efforts in collecting hay for cattle as well as monetary donations and volunteer coordination for repairs to property and fencing across the impacted area.
“We have also been in touch with USDA in regards to assistance that may be available to farmers and ranchers in the impacted counties that have suffered losses.”
Federal programs providing aid to those in need include the Emergency Conservation Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program, and crop insurance.
“I will continue to monitor the recovery as more information regarding the extent of the damage is gathered,” Roberts said. “Rest assured, as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am committed to making sure assistance programs will be available to those in need.”
For photos of the fire damage and Senator Roberts’ visit, go here.