Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry's Remarks Regarding Hurricane Dolly

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008  •  Austin, Texas  •  Speech

Good afternoon and thank you all for being here today.

As you are all aware, Hurricane Dolly is making landfall on the south Texas coast as we speak. According to plan, we are now working through a three step process of RESCUE, RE-ENTRY and RECOVERY. Even though technology enables us to predict the approximate path and intensity, hurricanes can still be highly unpredictable, so we prepare for the worst and pray for the best. In that spirit, we always make ready for a storm one category higher than predicted, which is why we are ready for this Category 2 storm.

The preparations kicked into high gear when we activated our operational plan for catastrophic hurricanes at 3:30pm on Sunday. At that point, it was clear that Tropical Storm Dolly posed a serious threat to our coast. In accordance with our operational plan, we began prepositioning a vast array of resources near the anticipated point of impact, drawing on state agencies, local communities, Texas Military Forces and our private sector partners. This plan is based on the experience from storms like Katrina and Rita and more than 66 hurricane drills we have completed in the past eight years. This is Texas, so our approach is to lean into the problem and stage the necessary personnel, equipment and resources, so they can move into the affected area as quickly and efficiently as possible. These resources included the efforts of our 53 private sector partners who have prepositioned ice, water and food, and our Fuel Teams that have ensured adequate supplies of gasoline for or citizens, whether they chose to evacuate or ride out the storm.

This proactive approach sets us up to move into the RESCUE phase as smoothly as possible. As we speak, we have Search and Rescue Teams from Texas Task Force 1 in the affected areas, ready to assist people in peril. They'll operate from the air, land and water with six helicopters and fifty high profile vehicles from Texas Military Forces, and nearly fifty boats from Texas Parks and Wildlife. As the RESCUE phase proceeds, it will overlap with the RE-ENTRY phase as our prepositioned teams arrive to restore power, conduct health and safety inspections, and provide supplies like ice, water and food. We are supporting 17 local shelters which are set up in places like schools and churches. Already, we have more than 2,800 people in shelters across the state. As these efforts unfold, we will continue to keep a close eye on the weather. Experience tells us that the high winds and flooding encountered at the point of impact are typically accompanied by tornadic activity as the storm continues its movement. We are also monitoring the levees in the Rio Grande Valley to make sure they withstand the loading from the floodwaters.

The RE-ENTRY phase then transitions into our RECOVERY phase as our teams focus on helping citizens return to their homes & businesses, assess the damage, and begin the process of returning their lives to normal. Today, I have spoken with local officials in the hardest-hit areas. Like their fellow judges in the affected counties, Judge Cascos of Cameron County and Judge Salinas of Hidalgo County are working closely with my division of emergency management to guide their counties through this process. Here in Texas, we believe in local control of emergency situations, so local officials are charged with leading their communities through emergencies like this. Our statewide team is committed to helping them through the process. As this system pushes through, our goal is to help people pick up the pieces, clean up the mess and work with local officials to put their lives back together.

To the people in the affected area, I would tell you this: help is on the way, if it's not already in your neighborhood. We are working to ensure your health and safety and will not rest until your community is stabilized. If you need help, contact the local first-responders in your community. Yesterday, I issued disaster declarations for fourteen Texas counties, a step that allows us to move assets into place and get the necessary paperwork done for the speediest possible response and recovery. Because Dolly came ashore as a Category 2 hurricane, I will today petition Washington for a presidential declaration of disaster so that our citizens will have every resource necessary for their recovery.

As we always do in the toughest times, we are seeing Texans being Texans: helping their neighbors putting others' needs above their own and heading toward the trouble, not away. That is the Texas way and I am so very proud of the good people of this great state. I would be happy to answer your questions on this issue.

Gov. Rick Perry and Steve McCraw (Texas Homeland Security Director) provide an update on efforts in response to Hurricane Dolly.

Governor's Initiatives:
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