Transcribed Remarks of Governor Haley Barbour and
Other State Officials
Location: MEMA, National Guard Auditorium
September 8, 2005
5:10 p.m.

1 GOVERNOR BARBOUR: Thank you. I think
2 it's known that I met with the legislature today and
3 specifically, the committee chairs of both House and
4 Senate. I think that all members were invited. It
5 was a very large group and we talked about progress
6 and the future of folks going forward. And I think
7 everybody agrees that we've turned a corner. We're
8 well into cleanup and we're focused on the future
9 all over Mississippi.
10 One of the crucial things about the
11 future is to make sure that our state and our
12 communities that were particularly affected and
13 their leadership have a grasp of the opportunities
14 that are going to be in front of us of what can be
15 on the Gulf Coast and in southeast Mississippi. As
16 I've said before, the coast is going to come back
17 bigger and better than ever. And we're focused not
18 only on recovery and rebuilding, we're focused on
19 renewal and a renaissance.
20 In order to facilitate the local
21 leadership and legislature and all of the state
22 boards having strong information and alternatives, I
23 am going, I am today establishing a Governor's
24 Commission along the lines that Governor John Bell
25 Williams established following Camille. The
1 commission will be very participatory and
2 collaborative. In addition to the commission
3 itself, there will be a number of subgroups
4 organized by geography.
5 For instance, one for Hancock, one for
6 Harrison, one for Jackson, one for Pearl River
7 County. One for each of the eastern and western
8 half of the rest of the affected areas. For
9 agriculture and forestry, for small business and
10 other very important groups in our rebuilding.
11 Today, I am very pleased to announce that
12 one of the most successful people in Mississippi
13 history and also one of the most generous in trying
14 to help our state go forward, Jim Barksdale, has
15 agreed to chair this commission. So let me
16 introduce Jim Barksdale. (Applause).
17 MR. BARKSDALE: Thank you, Governor.
18 It's an honor to be able to hopefully serve my
19 fellow Mississippians. I'm honored to be selected
20 by the Governor. I promise you we will give it our
21 every effort. We're going to be selecting the
22 members of the commission during the next week and
23 announcing them hopefully within the next week. We
24 promised the Governor, I have, that we will have our
25 report to him by the end of the year.
1 And that means we've got a lot of work to
2 do very quickly. We want to be listening, we want
3 to be aware of what the people in the local
4 communities want. After all, it's their project.
5 And they are the ones that are going to have most of
6 the ideas and they are the ones that are going to
7 have to implement these ideas. But we do believe we
8 can be of assistance to them in giving them
9 suggestions, ideas, models, from other cities that
10 have rebuilt, things to consider, perhaps some new
11 ways of doing things.
12 And as the Governor said, those ideas can
13 lead to a renaissance of the Gulf Coast and make
14 this an opportunity as much as anything. And I
15 commit to you my full-time effort and all that I can
16 do to make this a success. And I'm honored and I
17 appreciate it very, very much. Thank you.
18 GOVERNOR BARBOUR: Thank you, Jim.
19 Serving as Vice Chairmen of the commission will be
20 Jerry St. Pe of Pascagoula, Jackson County, Joe
21 Sanderson of Laurel and Jones County. And we'll
22 announce probably tomorrow a third vice chairman
23 also from the coast. As Jim said, we intend to have
24 the commission functioning next week, all the
25 members named and operations started.
1 For those of you that have seen the coast
2 or been down on the coast, in most areas of the
3 coast, cleanup is well underway. Every day you can
4 physically see the difference. I've told you that
5 temporary housing is sort of the next big focus that
6 we're working on. We've now received more than a
7 hundred mobile homes which have come in to our
8 staging area near Purvis.
9 I think 122, 114, and of those, 22 have
10 already been moved forward to where they will be on
11 the coast forward to be hooked up to electricity,
12 hooked up to sewage, hooked up to water. And
13 tomorrow, we will start leasing in temporary
14 residents. To have done that in less than two
15 weeks, I will tell you is a world record in
16 hurricane disaster assistance. And we have a lot
17 more coming and we're going to try to get them
18 opened as fast as possible.
19 The single biggest issue right now is we
20 have to find locations where there is already
21 electricity, water and sewage, some way, septic tank
22 or sewage because obviously, we can't let anybody
23 move into a mobile home without that. But frankly,
24 I'm very proud of that. The fuel situation seems to
25 be okay.
1 We continue to benefit by the fact that
2 the federal government is supplying all of the fuel
3 needed for our emergency vehicles. Which means that
4 all of our state's allocation is going into the
5 commercial retail market. But just because there's
6 no gas lines doesn't mean that people should quit
7 conserving. We need people to conserve and we're
8 going to need people to conserve for quite awhile.
9 And at the prices they're getting for gasoline, it
10 ought to be pretty easy to be convinced to conserve.
11 As far as our utilities are concerned,
12 80 percent or approximately 80 percent of the
13 electric, electricity customers who lost power have
14 now have power restored throughout the affected
15 areas. Mississippi Power continues to report that
16 they expect all of their customers able to receive
17 power to have power no later than September 11th.
18 Again, it would be nice to remember that date for
19 something positive.
20 Cellular South reports that all of their
21 cellular service will be back on by Monday. And of
22 course, Entergy and Bellsouth and the other
23 providers continue to make a lot of progress. When
24 I spoke to the legislature this morning and met with
25 the department heads yesterday and the financial
1 leaders, one of the things that we talked about was
2 cash flow needs. And the federal government has
3 been a good partner in that for us today. FEMA and
4 MEMA have been able to inject a considerable amount
5 of liquidity into our local governments by doing
6 estimates of damage and advancing the local
7 governments a percentage of the estimated damage so
8 that they can make their payrolls, so that they can
9 keep their employees working to keep their
10 operations going. And we appreciate, we appreciate
11 that.
12 I want to re-emphasize something that
13 we've talked about everyday this week. It's
14 critical that local governments and state
15 departments and agencies keep good records and
16 comply with the rules so that we can get 100 percent
17 reimbursement. The government has offered us
18 100 percent reimbursement of a whole variety of
19 disaster relief and cleanup efforts, but we have to
20 keep good records. That goes for state agencies as
21 well as local governments.
22 And I want to urge people to work with
23 the auditor's office, work with the attorney
24 general's office or work with FEMA to make sure that
25 you're following the rules. Because we don't want
1 to turn around and the counties have to pay back
2 something or not get paid. And frankly, as a state,
3 it is crucial that we maximize what the federal
4 government will give us. It's crucial that agencies
5 work together across agency lines to be sure that
6 we're not duplicating things that then only one of
7 which gets reimbursed. We have some news from the
8 Department of Human Services about a large grant
9 they have received, and let call Colonel Taylor to
10 explain that.
11 COLONEL TAYLOR: Thank you, Governor.
12 I'm pleased to announce that in our division of
13 community services, we received $11,750,000 in low
14 income home energy assistance programs. These are
15 emergency funds and they will be awarded to the
16 community action agencies and human resource
17 agencies across the state to put this money on the
18 ground where it can be best used.
19 The kinds of things the money will be
20 used for are generators, shelter lights,
21 transportation to shelters for individuals in
22 shelters in danger, air conditioning, furniture,
23 repair, replacement of these units. Help paying
24 electric and gas bills, deposits on light and gas
25 services, minor roof repair and weatherization.
1 Thank you.
2 GOVERNOR BARBOUR: Speaking of the
3 government's generosity to us, my understanding of
4 Congress today passed a supplemental appropriation
5 for the disaster in excess of $50 billion dollars.
6 One place we were asking the legislature is how is
7 that money going to be divided up between the
8 states. And, in fact, that's not really what the
9 money is for. What the money is for to keep funding
10 MEMA, I mean, FEMA, defense department, all of the
11 money that the government is spending down here like
12 this grant that Don talked about or the fuel that
13 we're getting and that sort of stuff.
14 The government pays for that out of these
15 funds. So it's not we'll get X percent of
16 $50 billion dollars. It's, that money will be run
17 through the system to provide us with disaster
18 relief. And let's just make sure that the federal
19 agencies have the funds to pay for what the law says
20 the states like Mississippi will get.
21 General Cross notified me today that
22 because our air lift capacity requirements have
23 essentially gone away, whether it's for search and
24 rescue or for deliveries, because we are not now
25 able to do this on the ground without doing it by
1 helicopter, that the National Guard has released a
2 number of helicopters who were sent here by other
3 states so that they can go back home to their
4 states. And we anticipate that next week we will
5 start reducing somewhat the out of state National
6 Guard presence in Mississippi.
7 You've heard me talk everyday about our
8 sister states have been great to let their guardsmen
9 come into town. With the electricity back on, with
10 things getting more back to normal, cleanup
11 progressing, we're not going to just keep those
12 people here when they are not really needed. So
13 we'll start releasing out of state guard units back
14 to their states on a priority basis to be worked out
15 by the Mississippi National Guard.
16 When those guardsmen from other states
17 come here, they operate under the command of the
18 Mississippi National Guard. And so the decision
19 about which ones will go home first will be really
20 based on what our needs profile is, what kind of
21 soldiers from other states we'll keep. You need to
22 ask any questions about that, I'll let you ask those
23 to General Cross in a minute.
24 The final report I wanted to make is as
25 of about 4 o'clock today, more than 71,000
1 Mississippians have signed up for FEMA relief.
2 That's an increase of about 10,000 since yesterday
3 which is clearly going in the right direction. But
4 we still know that there are thousands and thousands
5 of people who are probably eligible or need to find
6 out if they are eligible for disaster individual
7 assistance, and the only way you can find out is to
8 apply.
9 Remember, the number to call to sign up
10 for FEMA individual assistance for the disaster is
11 1-800-621-3362. There was an erroneous report in
12 the legislature today that somehow that number had
13 been changed or that number was not correct. But in
14 fact, that is the right number, it's 800-621-3362.
15 That's 800-621-FEMA, FEMA. The latest report on
16 fatalities is an increase of one from yesterday to
17 today, 204. 153 from coast counties, and 151 from
18 the coast counties and 53 from the upland counties
19 or the inland counties. With that, we'll be glad to
20 take any questions.
21 QUESTION: You were talking the FEMA RV.
22 A couple of questions for you. How many are headed
23 to the metro and how do you pick who to gets to live
24 in those RV's?
25 GOVERNOR BARBOUR: Well, I'll let the
1 FEMA people explain that to you, but I can tell you
2 the first place they are going to is to the coast
3 because that's where they are needed the most.
4 MR. CARWILE: Yes, sir, we are indeed
5 bringing the units in now and the priority is the
6 coast. However, the way you register is through the
7 number that the Governor just gave. 1-800-621-FEMA.
8 Today we were down with the Vice President and
9 Secretary Truhoff in the areas. And a lady came up
10 to me and she asked can I get a FEMA trailer to go
11 in my home, I don't want to leave my home.
12 And that's absolutely correct. People
13 can do that. They have that option. Once folks
14 call that number, there'll be a housing inspector
15 will come out and look at the home. And then we'll
16 make the determination when we can get the hookups
17 if people would like to take that option.
18 Meanwhile, we're looking for those group sites. We
19 have four housing strike teams. They're out dealing
20 with the counties right now trying to identify those
21 sites.
22 QUESTION: So you're looking for first
23 come, first serve or is it people that are families.
24 How do you --
25 MR. CARWILE: Right now, the strike teams
1 are looking for sites, are focusing on the priority
2 which is the southern counties.
3 QUESTION: I'm talking about the people,
4 (inaudible).
5 QUESTION: Old people get priority over
6 young people, do families get priority over single
7 people?
8 MR. CARWILE: The prioritization is by
9 calling that number. And we don't set a priority in
10 terms of you know, ages or what not. Now we will
11 put units in for special needs folks that have
12 special doors and that sort of thing. But we don't,
13 we're not in the business of setting the priorities
14 for people based on, you know, any particular
15 criteria. It's all based on need. Otherwise, we
16 wouldn't be providing it to them.
17 GOVERNOR BARBOUR: Anybody else?
18 QUESTION: You said the federal
19 government will pay for 100 percent of disaster
20 recovery cost, but you also said earlier today that
21 the state will have some costs. What are some of
22 the examples that you envision that the state will
23 have to pay for?
24 GOVERNOR BARBOUR: First of all, FEMA,
25 federal government, has by law only pays a hundred
1 percent of the cost of the first 72 hours. At our
2 request, the president has extended that to at least
3 60 days. So these are hundred percent payments are
4 limited in time to 60 days. There are some
5 categorical exceptions that could extend that out.
6 But for our purposes, 60 days.
7 We're going to have to rebuild a lot of
8 infrastructure in our state. Highways, clearly,
9 going to have to be rebuilt. Many public buildings
10 and facilities were destroyed or severely damaged.
11 When it comes to those, we will have to bear at
12 least part of the cost. State government will have
13 to bear at least part of the cost and local
14 governments have to bear some of the cost.
15 One of the really good things is if we
16 rebuild things so they are more hurricane proof, if
17 we build them to a higher standard, the federal
18 government will help us pay for that so that we
19 reduce the chance of it getting knocked down by the
20 next hurricane 36 years from now that's worse than
21 Camille. So there are a lot of things like that.
22 And they are just operational costs that are going
23 to be increased because of this. And after 60 days,
24 the federal government is not going to be bearing a
25 hundred percent of the cost.
1 Generally, the rule is the federal
2 government pays 75 percent and state and local pay
3 25 percent. The size of this disaster is such that
4 once the period for a hundred percent federal pay
5 ends, it is anticipated that the ratio will be 90/10
6 because we will have exceeded the limits that
7 trigger going from 75/25 to 90/10.
8 QUESTION: Two unrelated questions, what
9 kind of pressure is the state putting on insurance
10 companies to make sure that they properly take care
11 of victims?
12 GOVERNOR BARBOUR: You better ask the
13 insurance commissioner that. Because by law, he has
14 that authority and responsibility, I don't.
15 QUESTION: Okay, second question. Are
16 you ready to link the growing intensity of hurricane
17 warnings to global warming yet?
18 GOVERNOR BARBOUR: No. Any other
19 questions?
20 QUESTION: How much has been donated to
21 the hurricane recovery fund as far as in Mississippi
22 and are there other funds that other states have set
23 up?
24 GOVERNOR BARBOUR: My understanding from
25 talking to former President Bush that when he and
1 former President Clinton agreed to do this, part of
2 the agreement was that each state would set up a
3 fund. We, as it happened, had just set ours up the
4 day before. Candidly, on the advice of counsel of
5 Governor Jeb Bush of Florida who told me, I think as
6 I've said here before that we were going to need
7 money to spend on things that didn't work through
8 FEMA, MEMA, and that sort of stuff.
9 So I assume based on that conversation
10 that each one of the three states, Mississippi,
11 Alabama, and Louisiana have done that, but I don't
12 have any knowledge about anything but Mississippi.
13 Give us until Monday to make an announcement on
14 amount raised. Is that okay? I hope so.
15 QUESTION: The state economist today
16 painted a pretty rosy picture about the rebuilding
17 spurring the economy. Do you think that's going to
18 spur enough revenue to help offset the state's cost
19 for rebuilding?
20 GOVERNOR BARBOUR: As you know, I had to
21 leave before the state economist spoke because I had
22 to meet with Vice President Cheney, and so I didn't
23 get to hear what he said. So I would hate to talk
24 about that. I mean, usually during campaigns, we
25 often talk about things we don't normally think
1 about, but I would prefer in this case to hear what
2 Phil Pepper said before I comment.
3 QUESTION: Are you optimistic that the
4 rebuilding will spawn jobs and so forth?
5 GOVERNOR BARBOUR: It's, the question is
6 a state economist thought revenues would really turn
7 up apparently from this rendition. I am very
8 optimistic because I've spent much of the last ten
9 or 11 days on the coast and in the damaged areas.
10 And I'm optimistic because I see people down there
11 who are focused on the future. Who are focused on
12 rebuilding. Who are already on their way back, who
13 are opening their businesses. Who are keeping their
14 employees working. Who are cleaning up and fixing
15 up and talking about the future.
16 That kind of optimism to me is better
17 than any economist, though I'm a Phil Pepper fan.
18 But that's better to me than any economist's view.
19 People down there are raring to go and they are
20 starting, which makes me very optimistic. And it
21 makes me very committed to work with Jim Barksdale
22 and his group to make sure that we give our citizens
23 and leaders on the coast and in the rest of the
24 affected area, good information about the options
25 and alternatives and the possibilities to make the
1 coast bigger and better than ever. So that they can
2 see those opportunities and choose the directions
3 that they will take their optimism from an attitude
4 to reality. I'm real optimistic. With that, did I
5 miss anybody? Okay. Thank y'all.
6 (Concluded: 5:34 p.m.)

Reported By: Julie Brown, CSR #1587
Brooks Court Reporting
P.O. Box 2632
Jackson, Mississippi 39207
(601) 362-1995


 


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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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