WASHINGTON Gulf Coast officials asked lawmakers on 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. Later Tuesday, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is expected to tell House lawmakers 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 told Congress Tuesday they want all available FEMA trailers that do not have dangerous levels of formaldehyde.
Galveston mayor Lyda Ann Thomas also testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday and praised FEMA for its performance during Ike.
But other officials complained some FEMA supplies were late and some shelters were inadequate.
Louisiana State Sen. Reggie Dupre Jr. criticized the Army Corps of Engineers for not constructing levees in his district since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Dupre's district, Terrebonne Parish, experienced the worst flooding in its history. He said the federal government appropriated $30 million in 2006 to build nonfederal levees, but the Army Corps has not spent any of it in Terrebonne Parish. "Some levees are better than no levees," Dupre said.