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Gov. Perry: Washington Penalizes Texas for Protecting Communities from Ike

Press Release

Location: Austin, TX

Gov. Perry: Washington Penalizes Texas for Protecting Communities from Ike

Texas to appeal federal denial for debris removal for costliest disaster in state history

Gov. Rick Perry today criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for its denial Tuesday of the state's appeal for an increased federal cost share for protective measures and recovery operations related to Hurricane Ike which made landfall on the Texas coast Sept. 13, 2008.

"I am disappointed that FEMA continues to short change a state that has become a model for the nation in disaster preparedness and response," Gov. Perry said. "It is not only the obligation of the federal government but its responsibility under law to help its citizens in times of emergency. Washington's underwhelming response to the devastating 2008 hurricane season in Texas is sending the message to states, that when facing future disasters they will be penalized for their efforts to protect life and property."

As Hurricane Ike approached, Texas deployed substantial personnel and resources, including buses, high profile vehicles, ambulances, helicopters, and search and rescue teams. Texas conducted 3,540 rescues, including 634 pre-landfall rescues from the Bolivar Peninsula, and assisted more than 12,500 individuals with special needs in evacuating from the impacted areas. These proactive measures taken by the State of Texas and local leaders were vital to protecting life and property as Ike approached the Texas coast. Even though FEMA issued a major disaster declaration to authorize funding of these life-saving measures, FEMA has now denied payment for 100 percent of these and other critical disaster costs.

Specifically, FEMA denied Texas' request for:
• 100 percent federal cost share for emergency protective measures prior to Hurricane Ike's landfall, which would cover expenses such as evacuation of medical special needs individuals, along with companion animals and livestock, as well as pre-landfall search and rescue operations;
• 100 percent federal cost share for emergency protective measures from October 26, 2008, to April 26, 2009, which would cover expenses such as the removal of hazardous material from the affected areas;
• 90 percent federal funding for Public Assistance Categories C-G, which include the repair of bridges and roadways, utilities, and water control facilities;
• 100 percent federal funding for Hazard Mitigation, which includes enhancing infrastructure such as elevating schools or buying out flood-prone residences, through April 26, 2009.

Hurricane Ike, the costliest disaster in Texas history, caused an estimated $29.4 billion in non-reimbursable damage to the state, and it left behind an estimated 32 million cubic yards of hazardous debris.

Additionally, on March 23, 2009, Gov. Perry requested an extension of 100 percent federal funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures, noting that 16 local communities had indicated they would not be able to complete their debris removal operations by the April 26, 2009, deadline. This request was also denied Tuesday, and the state intends to appeal this decision.

In the aftermath of Texas' costliest hurricane season, Texas has only asked that the citizens affected by Hurricane Ike be treated no less than those affected by Hurricane Katrina. Despite the severity of the disaster in Texas and the amount of work left to be done, Washington is now abdicating its responsibility.

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