Hurricane Season Preparation

Hurricane season is less than 60-days away and while Texas is still trying to recover from last year's devistating storms it is also trying to get the federal government to change the way it deals with state and local governments in times of disaster. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice reports.

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"What we need most from the federal government is less beaurocracy, more resources, and a continued committment to letting Texans run Texas."

Governor Rick Perry and Harris County Judge Robert Eckles gave U.S. Senator John McCain a tour of Houston Transtar to show how the area cuts across jurisdictional, bureaucratic, political and governmental boundries in dealing with disasters. He was impressed.

"It's a remarkable, state-of-the-art, well equipt facility, that I think is probably unmacthewd any place else in the country."

McCain agreed with the governor that state and local officials should lead in disaster recovery, but that the federal government does have a role.

"...particularly, obviously in the way of funding."

And Washington's funding is one area that needs dramatic change according to Perry. He says during and after Katrina and Rita the state did what the feds asked it to do.

"The federal government has not lived up to their responsibility and quite frankly they have not lived up to their word, which they gave Texas."

Perry says it sets a bad precident. He wonders if other states be willing to open their arms to disaster victims the way Texas did last year, if those states can not count on the federal government meeting its financial responsibilities. Judge Eckles says the problem is even larger because disaster assistance is not a short term event.

"The problems we face in Housotn with Katrina is a marathon, it is going to continue for a long time. Our law enforcement costs in Harris County for the jail, the courts, the prosecutors, the probation, the process side of law enforcement, not the police on the street, the process side, is about 18-million dollars so far that is not reimbursed by the federal government."

How to get Washington to fix the perceived problems? Senator McCain isn't certain congress will do anything without pressure the peole back home.

"All I can says is if we act it will be because our governors throughout this area say that right now if we had a repitition of the disaster of Katrina and Rita, that they would probably not be able to cope with those disasters. That does give us some urgency. And these governors coming to Washington and banging on our doors is probably very helpful in this process."

Governor Perry says despite last year's storms Texas is probably better prepared to respond to disaster than any state in the nation.

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