By Jamie Gates
New Federal Emergency Management Agency director David Paulison was in Lake Charles Monday to address questions about FEMA's response in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita in Southwest Louisiana.
"I am crediting the lack of loss of life to the swift evacuation of residents and coordinated efforts of all the local emergency prepardness officials," Paulison said. "Lots of people have lost everything and we are going to stay here until we get the situation resolved."
Paulison stated that the "successful response from locals and parish residents and officials to state personnel - has truly been a partnership" adding that he's been very pleased with the results.
Five deaths have been attributed to the storm, however, those were in Beaumont. So far, no deaths in Louisiana have been reported.
Paulison asked residents to call 1-800-FEMA to register for disaster assistance or log on to the website at www.fema.gov. If those in need have a bank account, the money can be sent through direct deposit. He stated that those who no longer have homes need to provide a valid mailing address to receive money.
"President Bush has approved 625 million for housing assistance with the bulk going to Louisiana residents," Paulison said. "Recovery will be a slow, methodical process but we'll cut through the red tape to speed up the process."
State Senator Mary Landrieu was also on hand at Monday's news conference to provide reassurance to the residents of Southwest Louisiana.
"Our state has been devastated by two powerful storms," Landrieu stated. "This has become a national disaster which will take an unprecidented national response. We can't stop the water. We can't stop the wind. But we can invest in coastal restoration, Landrieu said.
"We are the country's only energy based coast. People don't come to Louisiana to sunbathe. The nation is already realizing the importance of Louisiana to the economy as a whole."
Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach has spoken with local FEMA officials and said that there are plans to put a local FEMA office in Lake Charles so citizens could apply for relief in person as well as have concerns answered.
"The request has to come through the state and we put that request in this morning," Roach said.
Tuesday, September 27
By Jamie Gates
Posted by American Press at 11:35 AM