Transcribed Remarks of Governor Haley Barbour and
Other State Officials
Location: MEMA, National Guard Auditorium
September 7, 2005
5:10 p.m.

9 GOVERNOR: Let me report on the fact today
10 virtually all the executive directors of State
11 Department and agencies met. The Lieutenant
12 Governor and Speaker joined me. We gave them a
13 briefing, gave them the opportunity to ask questions
14 of FEMA and MEMA about information that was
15 important to them.
16 We made plain to all of these department
17 heads that this hurricane and the natural disaster
18 that's happened in the state redefines every one of
19 their jobs, functions, and focuses for the next two
20 or three years.
21 We have asked them and we are receiving
22 from them budget information, planning documents,
23 and the plan for the next one month, three months,
24 one year, and three years for their agencies in
25 light of what is transpired. We'll have all of that
1 in by the close of business on Friday.
2 We've also solicited from them any changes
3 in State law or regulation that they think is
4 important for them to be able to accomplish their
5 new goals and function, as well as any changes that
6 they think will be helpful in terms of federal law
7 and regulations so we can try to request that.
8 I do appreciate FEMA for answering
9 questions and making available information, not just
10 to the media today but going forward. And for
11 putting on a school I guess this coming Friday for
12 all of the financial staffs of the various
13 departments and agencies so they can understand all
14 of the regulations to make sure that we get the
15 maximum reimbursements that are held that our state
16 and local governments are eligible for under our
17 disastrous systems.
18 Also today, I made a decision and
19 promulgated it that all state workers who have
20 missed work because of the disaster will be -- will
21 get paid administrative leave. I gave that
22 information to the department heads today. The
23 department heads will be responsible on a
24 case-by-case basis to determine if in fact absences
25 were a result of the disaster and whether the
1 employee should receive paid administrative leave.
2 This order will be applicable statewide.
3 And we think it's fair to our employees who missed
4 work because of storm damage, closed roads, et
5 cetera, that they get paid administrative leave.
6 I've got a couple of department heads who
7 need to update you and be available for questions
8 when we finish, and let me start with Bobby Moody
9 who is the Executive Director of the division of
10 Medicaid.
11 MR. MOODY: Thank you, Governor. I will
12 report to you that all of our state regional
13 Medicaid offices are up and functioning except for
14 three. That is the three down on the Gulf Coast.
15 That is at Gulfport, Pascagoula, and at Picayune.
16 The Gulfport office now has power in it. Our main
17 problem is trying to get communication set up.
18 We will be working with those offices to
19 make sure that backlog work that they have is taken
20 care of by our state offices and to do everything we
21 can to make sure that they are up and functional in
22 the next few days.
23 We're working with other states that have
24 our recipients in their states to make sure that
25 their providers have access to every ability that we
1 have to provide them to be Medicaid providers. We
2 have reduced about a 10-page application form to
3 about a six-line application form to make sure that
4 our recipients in other states are provided
5 services. And they're doing the same thing for us.
6 We're making sure that we provide services
7 for displaced residents from the other states.
8 We're also working with a contractor right
9 now to provide communications for emergency
10 transportation. Not only will they be providing
11 transportation for Medicaid recipients, but they can
12 work with us in other areas to provide work-related
13 transportation and any other transportation that's
14 needed around the state.
15 We're working with the feds and asking
16 them to relax some of the rules that will allow us
17 to provide additional medical services for displaced
18 residents, whether they're Mississippians or whether
19 they're from other states.
20 We have had a very good working
21 relationship with CMS and to other states to try to
22 do the best we can to make sure Medicaid recipients,
23 whether they are Mississippi Medicaid recipients or
24 whether they are from other states, have access to
25 medical care.
1 We're also working with a provider right
2 now that can drop communication links into some of
3 the disaster centers to make sure that if there are
4 recipients there who don't know exactly what
5 medications they've been taking, that we can give
6 them a dummy number that they can go into our system
7 and find out what those drugs that those recipients
8 have received in the last 90 days.
9 We will also be working to make sure that
10 anyone who needs access to that information gets it
11 on a basis. And we're asking for from HIPA to relax
12 some of their regulations so we will be able to
13 provide information to them.
14 With that, I will be glad to try to
15 address any questions.
16 GOVERNOR: Save questions to the end.
17 MR. MOODY: Okay.
18 GOVERNOR: Bobby will be available for
19 questions. Tommy Dale Favre is the Executive
20 Director of Department of Former Security. Tommy
21 Dale.
22 MS. FAVRE: I'd like to report that as of
23 today we have 47 counties in the state that -- where
24 individuals reside who are now eligible for
25 disastrous unemployment assistance. And that means
1 they will be eligible to receive benefits of up to
2 $210 a week while they are unemployed as a result of
3 this disaster.
4 In addition, self-employed individuals who
5 were living in the affected areas at the time may
6 also be eligible, as well as those who were unable
7 to reach their job because of the disaster or those
8 who were ready to become employed and because of the
9 disaster were unable to gain that employment
10 immediately. For example, somebody whose job had
11 already been obtained, but now they are unemployed
12 and never got to go.
13 Also, we have activated a call center and
14 tomorrow we will have two locations, but we have a
15 call center currently being manned by 100 employees
16 and we are taking calls. Yesterday, 600 calls came
17 in, but the first hour this morning we received
18 2,000 calls at our call center.
19 As well as at the call center, we're
20 taking calls for claims, filling claims, eligibility
21 at our local WIN job centers which are open. All of
22 our WIN centers are open except the five locations
23 on the Coast, and we expect to have either that
24 office opened, as will be the case with our Biloxi
25 office, or mobile centers on site at the first of
1 next week and have those open to take claims, as
2 well as make a connection from employers who were
3 looking for employees to fill permanent or full-time
4 jobs.
5 We also will have some additional
6 locations set up in areas such as Ocean Springs,
7 Pass Christian, and Long Beach which are not
8 normally served except for one of our larger centers
9 on the Coast. We will expect to have those, as I
10 said, set up by the first of the week and ready with
11 staff to be open for business.
12 Our call center can be accessed through
13 either our website or 1-888-844-3577. Currently,
14 we've trained enough people to have that call center
15 open from approximately 6:30 in the morning to 7:00
16 at night, and we are working to increase those hours
17 as quickly as possible.
18 We also will be deploying our rapid
19 response team to serve some of the shelters that are
20 located on the Coast, and we will be getting them
21 out there as quickly as we can.
22 We have received a $50 million national
23 emergency grant, and through that grant we will be
24 working with local governments and counties to put
25 people to work temporarily doing things like
1 cleaning debris off the street.
2 As soon as that money is available, and it
3 should be soon, we will get the information out to
4 the local counties and local governments about how
5 they can access those funds to pay people to put
6 them back to work immediately. Thank you.
7 GOVERNOR: Thank you, Tommy Dale. We've
8 got a lot of the state agency heads here to answer
9 questions.
10 I simply would say state employees have
11 done a fabulous job these last 10 days. They have
12 worked under terrible circumstances, some of them in
13 very dangerous situations like law enforcement,
14 firemen, National Guard, and we have a lot to be
15 thankful to them for.
16 We have great leadership in these
17 departments and agencies, and I think you're seeing
18 that because of the progress we've made. And we
19 have made a lot of progress.
20 I reiterate to you the fuel situation
21 which we were very worried about less than a week
22 ago continues to improve. Reports are gas lines are
23 being diminished if not no longer having gas lines.
24 Our electric utilities and our telephone
25 companies are doing just great jobs in restoration
1 of service. I told you yesterday a big focus right
2 now is on housing, temporary housing.
3 FEMA has advised us that the federal
4 government has ordered 270,000 trailers and other
5 forms of temporary housing to those. They have
6 started moving in to Mississippi. Some are arriving
7 in Lamar County today. I guess I should hasten to
8 add, 270,000 for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama,
9 not just 270,000 just for us.
10 I have to make a strong statement to the
11 public. Only 61,000 people have registered and
12 applied for benefits through FEMA's system. 61,000.
13 Now, presumably that's 61,000 households, but people
14 need to apply. You're not eligible to have this
15 temporary housing unless you have registered and
16 made an application.
17 The number to call is 1-800-621 --
18 1-800-621-FEMA, F-E-M-A. Looks like 3362. Somebody
19 get your own cell phone and see if that's right.
20 1-800-621-FEMA, F-E-M-A.
21 If you don't apply, you can't get any of
22 the benefits that have been discussed here. You've
23 got to apply whether it's for food stamps, whether
24 it's for unemployment assistance, whether it's for
25 temporary housing.

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Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741

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