State's Top Emergency Manager Says Texas Ready For Storm Season

sky of a hurricane...intense clouds"We're just so much better than we were five years ago. We have this awareness now of what right looks like in terms of what we saw withKatrina and what we saw with Rita."

Jack Colley is the chief of the Governor's Division of Emergency Management.He seems about as relaxed as the man in charge of the state's disaster planscould be. It's been a few years since Texas was affected by Hurricane. Notsince Katrina and Rita has the state had to deal with a real storm. Hesays that doesn't mean the state doesn't try to improve its emergency plans.

"We know here in Texas above anybody else that the single greatest naturalthreat to this state is a catastrophic hurricane. We know that. The leadershipof Texas knows that and accepts that. We have a very focused effort and ifall of us understand that and understand that's the threat, then we continueto prepare for it."

Last August, Hurricane Dean threatened the Texas coast, but ended up in Mexico. The state was able to deploy extra gas to areas along the coastand have National Guardsman in place in the Valley just in case. Colley says evacuating residents with special needs is still the most importantpart of the state's plan.

"The priority for the state is the evacuation of those who cannot evacuate themselves, for whatever reasons. That is a commitment we have to do that. It takes a lot of teamwork to make that happenand commitment by the state to do that. It's not just talk. It's a realitythat we have. We are much better and our job is to get better."

Colley says the state has improved it's plan to evacuate pets and is also continuing to work on ways to get fuel to affected areas in the event of a big storm. He says Houston's traffic contra-flow plan hasgotten a lot better as well.

"We have a very detailed contra-flow plan. This is a big challengebecause of the sheer size of the community. 3.5 million people livein this area. We have a very good plan here. It's rehearsed. It's plannedfor. It's a large plan, but it's a good plan."

Colley was at a hurricane conference in Galveston today, alongwith about 2000 other emergency managers from across the state.
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