Texas Gov.: State and Local Officials Best in Responding to Disaster

With the start of the hurricane season just two months away, Gov. Rick Perry said recent recommendations that the federal government assume primary control of disaster response is the wrong approach to take, the governor’s office reported.

“If the federal government assumes control of first response to catastrophes, I believe it will add needless layers of bureaucracy, create indecisiveness, lead to rampant miscommunications and ultimately cost lives,” Perry said in an appearance with U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Perry said he applauds the federal government for undertaking a comprehensive review of its response during Hurricane Katrina but said the recommendation to federalize response would place too much authority into the hands of federal bureaucrats and force state and local officials to stand idly by while the lives of their citizens hang in the balance.

“Our firefighters, peace officers and EMS personnel are the ones who know their communities best,” Perry said. “They have done the emergency training exercises in those communities and they can respond the quickest to emergencies in their communities. To put it simply, when Texans dial 911, they need the phone to be picked up by an operator who knows their community, not someone at a switchboard in Washington, DC. “

Perry said the federal government does have an important role in disaster response, but it is a supporting role that must center on supplying state and local leaders with the resources they need to do their job.

Perry said the most important reform the federal government can enact is to provide a single point of contact during a disaster so states do not have to navigate various bureaucratic mazes to get things done.

“What Texas needs most from the federal government now is less bureaucracy, more resources and a continued commitment to letting Texans run Texas,” he said.

Perry noted that next month, Texas will undertake a five-day training exercise to test our response capabilities on a statewide basis. The exercise will simulate a hurricane impacting the entire 367-mile Texas coastline.

Source: Texas Governor’s Office