State Agencies to Focus on Storm Protocol in Budget Requests

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Some Florida counties are still struggling with how to pay for debris removal from last year’s devastating hurricane season. It’s just one of many huge costs that local and state officials now know they need to anticipate.

At a meeting in Tallahassee, disaster planners went over what they learned from 2004 as well as the hard lessons of Katrina and Rita. State Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate says watching the nightmare unfold in New Orleans showed everyone they need to plan far in advance for mass evacuations.

Craig Fugate says, "Poverty and lack of resources, lack of the ability to have transportation was a huge factor for many people."

The big issue, of course, is money. State lawmakers can expect big budget requests as counties look to improve their hurricane preps next year.

David MacNamee of Pinellas County says like many other counties in Florida, his has a shelter shortage to deal with.

David says, "Of course, a lot of that comes down to money, and so how do we work better with the state in getting grants and looking for better ways to retrofit and to find new buildings?"

Officials say Florida is better prepared than any other state to deal with the horror of hurricanes, but that will mean little to victims if their needs go unmet.

Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed $4 million in funding requests for hurricane shelters in the current budget, saying they didn’t go through the proper channels.