Feds: We're Ready This Time

The federal response to Hurricane Katrina was sharply criticized, but with another hurricane barreling toward the Gulf Coast, the secretary of Homeland Security insists things will be different when Hurricane Rita roars ashore.

Michael Chertoff The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith that, "Ever since Katrina, we've been reloading our resources, getting more food and water ... to anticipate the possibility of another storm. What we're in the process of doing now is working very closely with the state of Texas and local authorities, pre-positioning assets, food, supplies, helicopters, medical teams, getting them ready to go when the storm hits. And I think we're going to be ready when it does make landfall."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler that he's confident federal help will be at the ready when needed.

"I talked to both the president and Secretary Chertoff (Tuesday)," he said, "as well as many conversations between our homeland security and state emergency management folks. We have a good team put together. We've worked closely with the federal government in the past in (practice) exercises.

"Look, a Category 4, Category 5 storm is going to be catastrophic. Everyone understands that. But this state is as prepared as humanly possible. And we have a plan. We are putting it in place as we go. I want the people on the Gulf Coast to know that everything is being done appropriately for them to react calmly and this will all turn out all right.

"Texas is probably as prepared as any state in the nation, partially because we have had to deal with disasters of substantial size over the course of the years, just in the last three or four years."

Perry said that the government has had more than 150 emergency exercises since Sept. 11, 2001. He also said he has pre-positioned more than 5,000 National Guard troops and 1,000 Department of Public Safety troopers, and has aviation assets in place.

"The city of Galveston's already started a mandatory evacuation," he said. "So, it's evacuating those individuals, particularly in nursing homes, assisted living, that cannot take care of themselves who is my biggest concern at this particular point in time."

  • Brian Dakss

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