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October 27, 2008 (512) 463-0300

FEDS RESPONSE TO HURRICANE RELIEF LACKING, SAYS SENATOR

(AUSTIN) -- State officials praised the Texas response to Hurricane Ike but some criticized federal relief efforts at a committee meeting Monday. The Senate's Transportation and Homeland Security Committee met to gauge the emergency response to the category 2 storm that devastated the upper Texas coast. Senator Tommy Williams, who represents four counties impacted by Hurricane Ike, criticized the "faceless bureaucracy" at federal agencies for failing to meet the needs of southeast Texas following the storm. "We want the same thing for Texas that they did for Louisiana," he said. "They have not done it and they have turned a deaf ear to the people of southeast Texas."

Williams said that trailers for emergency shelter are desperately needed in his region. In the five weeks following Ike's September 13th landfall, he said his region requested 4000 FEMA trailers; only 150 were delivered. "I have people living in tents in the driveways of their homes and living in their cars right now because FEMA has not delivered trailers to the people in southeast Texas," said Williams.

Another issue facing the hurricane relief efforts is the lack of federal reimbursement for recovery efforts in the region. According to state Director of Homeland Security Steve McCraw, the 100 percent reimbursement period for a number of recovery efforts, from debris removal to restoration of electric and water infrastructure, has ended. McCraw said that Governor Perry has requested this period be extended for 18 months, but the federal government has yet to answer. If this request is denied, state and local governments could be left footing the bill for further recovery efforts.

The Transportation and Homeland Security Committee is chaired by Dallas Senator John Carona and vice-chaired by Austin Senator Kirk Watson. The committee consists of Senators Jeff Wentworth, Tommy Williams, Rodney Ellis, Robert Nichols, Eliot Shapleigh, Kim Brimer and Florence Shapiro.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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