“We know how to run our states better than FEMA does.”
That comment from Governor Rick Perry set the stage for the announcement of the commission that will prepare a long range plan for dealing with similar future disasters.
“From the time that we knew that Hurricane IKE was bearing down on us, the preparation, the predeployment, the evacuation, the search and rescue, and then the first 72 hours went almost flawlessly as it can go when you have a chaotic event like that…and then the federal government showed up, and it’s just kind of gone south since then.”
Governor Perry says FEMA needs to get out of the business of coming in and operating following a disaster.
“We saw Texas get treated differently when Hurricane Rita hit both Louisiana and Texas. But the idea that Texas is not going to be treated fairly in the same way our neighbor to the east was treated with Katrina is, I don’t understand that. Please don’t give me this deal of ‘Well, y’all can financially handle it.’ I’ve always understood our relationship with the federal government was this. We work real hard in Texas. As a matter of fact, we send a lot of money to Washington, D.C. because we are the economic powerhouse in this country. FEMA needs to be a pass-through agency in my opinion.”
The Governor wants TxDot to help finish removing tons of debris left behind, but wants FEMA to cover the cost for the next 18-months or risk bankrupting the state’s hard-hit coastal communities. The commission will be chaired by former Harris County Judge Robert Eckels.
“We’re not replacing the state of Texas, we’re not replacing the legislature, and what needs to be done in legislative fixes. We’re working with Senator Gallegos and with Representative Turner. We’ll be working with the local communities. Our job is to bring the regional approach to help the communities work together, to do more than they could do individually, to find where there are problems and look at solutions both between the communities and with the state or federal government, and recommend those changes back into new administration in Washington as well as what might need to be done differently in Austin.”
It’s estimated that the cost from Hurricanes Ike, Gustav and Dolly, which struck Texas within a period of 2-months this summer…is almost 29 and a half billion dollars…and growing.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.