Roberts tours damage in Clark County

Roberts promised to support recovery efforts in Clark County.

CLARK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – The southwest part of the state that saw the biggest fires that burned the most land — hundreds of thousands of acres.

On Friday, Senator Pat Roberts toured the areas hardest hit.

“Well you don’t have to drive very long and you don’t have to go very far out of the Englewood post office here and talking to the sheriff to see the blackened grass and the trees,” he said.

Roberts heard from Englewood and Ashland residents who lost their homes in the fire…and pledge his support to community leaders.

“He said he’s going to try to speed up some of the red tape and so forth that we’ve got to go through, like burying cattle,” said Clark County commissioner Charles McKinney about his conversation with Roberts.

Roberts expressed sympathy with residents and showed relief that the damage wasn’t any worse, specifically that there not many fatalities.

“Everything. There’s absolutely nothing left,” said Joyce Ediger about her home, which was destroyed in the fire.

“Of course it burnt the power lines down so we was out of electricity a few days and out of water,” said Englewood mayor Olen Whisenhunt. “Now we’re under a boil ban.”

Roberts says he talked to Vice President Pence on Thursday about the damage, and the federal government is preparing to help with recovery.

“He was very much aware of the prairie fires,” said Roberts. “He said the president is aware of that. I expect a presidential declaration within the next two, three, four, five days.”

Many people in the community rely on agriculture, and they asked Roberts about those next steps for federal help.

Roberts said the USDA could issue payments for livestock deaths and help with rebuilding fences and removing dead cattle.

“There’s some programs that can really help people,” he said. “Make them whole? No. That’s not going to happen, but they sure will be of help.”

He said those discussions about how much aid will actually come into these areas will have to wait for the total damage to be calculated.

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