- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan said yesterday the response to Hurricane Katrina shows the region needs to reconsider its emergency-response plans.

“My concern is that these plans are at best incomplete and at worst inadequate,” Mr. Duncan told the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

Mr. Duncan, a Democrat who is widely thought to be running for governor in 2006, has been most critical of the federal response in the weeks after the hurricane.

However, he acknowledged the county’s emergency-response plans also need to be reviewed and reconsidered.

“We’re going to make sure we’ve got the appropriate local response,” Mr. Duncan said. “We’re going to go back and look, based on what we’ve seen down there.”

He was joined at the council’s board meeting yesterday by Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly, both Democrats.

“Everything you can think of in terms of preparedness has to be reconsidered,” Mr. Johnson said. “It’s huge, but it’s critical.”

Mr. Johnson said the evacuation strategy is the most obvious part of the Prince George’s County response plan that needs to be reviewed.

He said the plan must include school buses and commuter trains, and should be coordinated with those on the state and regional levels to ensure nobody is left behind.

Mr. Johnson also said the federal government’s efforts to improve its response on the Gulf Coast needs input from local and state officials.

Mr. Connolly said Fairfax County is “in as good a shape as it can possibly be, in terms of emergency preparedness.”

However, he emphasized the importance of delineating local and federal responsibilities in an emergency.

“I think we need to revisit that issue [because] Katrina gives us pause.”

City Administrator Robert C. Bobb said the District was “very well-prepared,” but that officials are still looking for ways to improve.

He said, for example, city officials are identifying areas in which there are few cars among residents so that buses can be sent there during a mass evacuation.

Mr. Bobb also said the officials are looking at how to use waterways to facilitate an evacuation. However, he acknowledged the District’s plan lacks detail on where residents without cars should go during an evacuation.

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