State Hurricane Plan - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

04/19/06 - Nacogdoches

State Hurricane Plan

by Donna McCollum

Sure there were mistakes made during the latest Gulf Coast hurricane evacuation, but overall East Texas cities and counties handled the disaster well. So the idea of empowering one person to make evacuation decisions statewide is opposed by county leaders. Judge Sue Kennedy said, "I think there are some concerns about that. First, is it really going to expedite the response? Are we going to be able to get the resources we need?"

Doubtful, according to county officials who say a top incident commander is impractical and welcomes uninformed decisions. EMT Renee Faulkner who put in 72 hour shifts during the last disaster agrees. "Just let us do our job. Don't try to micro manage it from the top. Just let us do our job."

Coming up with a plan requires that everyone be on the same page. Right away a discrepancy was noticed. For example, not everyone has the same definition for special needs. Memorial hospital emergency room director Robert Y'Barbo said, "You had a state definition and you had a federal definition and for us providing care they weren't the same."

This means some people could end up in the emergency room needlessly. Y'barbo said, "They were trying to accomplish the same goals, but it was just the terminology was being misunderstood and misapplied."

Likewise Governor Perry's action plan has terminology that has county leaders saying we want to remain in control. Kennedy said, "We're going to do whatever we have to do to take care of our own first. That's always been our approach and will continue to be our approach."

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