Wednesday, November 09, 2005
On this day:

Riley in Washington: shares advice on disaster preparation

Gov. Bob Riley was in Washington today, where he won bipartisan praise for Alabama's handling of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. He also gave Congressmen some needed advice on the federal government's role in disaster preparation:
(AP)...Riley had plenty of advice on how to improve communication among the various levels of government. He said several FEMA regulations complicate effective preparation, which he says should be days ahead of a hurricane instead of hours ahead.

Rather than serving military-style meals ready to eat, he suggested using a portable generator to keep open one grocery store in a town, allowing evacuees to pick out their own food. That would buy the state a few days of time, he said, but isn't allowed by FEMA because the store is a private entity.

Riley also defended his state's decision to perform criminal background checks on adult evacuees housed temporarily at several state parks. FEMA advised the state not to do it, Riley said, but he rejected the advice. He said he believes two people with criminal backgrounds were identified and not allowed to stay at the park.

Riley said he disagreed with a proposal floated by the White House that would consider putting the National Guard under federal control and making the military first-responders to natural disasters.

"I think we've got one of the greatest presidents we've ever had, but he doesn't know Alabama the way I do," Riley said.