- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gulf Coast officials asked lawmakers Tuesday for fast federal money for hurricane recovery and a minimum of bureaucratic red tape.

Texas is looking at $11.4 billion in damages from Ike, including $16 million in damages to Houston, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said. Devastation in Galveston is another $2 billion, that city’s mayor said.

Louisiana is facing $1 billion in damages from Ike and Gustav, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu said. New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin said in prepared testimony that the $40 million cost of evacuating his city for Hurricane Gustav has led to hiring freezes and a halt of any new expenditures until disaster costs are reimbursed.

Houston Mayor Bill White asked that money be sent directly to the city for immediate use to streamline the reimbursement process. He asked that the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator be given the authority to come up with new, flexible recovery programs.

Just more than a week ago, Hurricane Ike battered Galveston with 110 mph winds and a 12-foot storm surge and has been blamed for 61 deaths, including 26 in Texas.

More than 1 million people evacuated the Texas coast, and about 45,000 residents fled Galveston Island, about 50 miles southeast of Houston.

Texas officials Tuesday told Congress they want all available FEMA trailers that do not have dangerous levels of formaldehyde.

After the hearing, however, FEMA’s deputy administrator, Harvey Johnson, said FEMA would provide some temporary housing for Texas but no trailers.

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