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'Caveman' Conditions in Texas Follow Rita

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'Caveman' Conditions in Texas Follow Rita

Postby Infineon » Wed, 28 Sep 2005 12:24 pm

Victims living 'like cavemen' after Rita

'Caveman' Conditions in Texas Follow Rita
Hurricane Rita Victims Are 'Living Like Cavemen,' Emergency Official Says Four Days After Storm

Texas National Guard Spc. Theresa Banks makes a cardboard sign to direct Hurricane Rita victims to the area where diapers are being dispersed Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2005, in Orange, Texas. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

By ABE LEVY Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press

PORT ARTHUR, Texas Sep 27, 2005 — Nearly four days after Hurricane Rita hit, many of the storm's sweltering victims along the Texas Gulf Coast were still waiting for electricity, gasoline, water and other relief Tuesday, prompting one top emergency official to complain that people are "living like cavemen."

In the hard-hit refinery towns of Port Arthur and Beaumont, crews struggled to cross debris-clogged streets to deliver generators and water to people stranded by Rita. They predicted it could be a month before power is restored, and said water and sewer systems could not function until more generators arrived.
Red tape was also blamed for the delays.

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Port Arthur Mayor Oscar Ortiz, whose own home was destroyed by fire after the hurricane, said "we've had 101 promises" for aid, "but it's all bureaucracy." He and other officials gathered at a hotel-turned-command center, where a dirty American flag found among hurricane debris was hung on the wall.

John Owens, emergency management coordinator and deputy police chief in the town of 57,000, said pleas for state and federal relief were met with requests for paperwork.

"We have been living like cavemen, sleeping in cars, doing bodily functions outside," he said.
Temperatures climbed into the upper 90s, and officials worried that swarms of mosquitoes might spread disease.

The White House on Tuesday said President Bush had extended complete federal funding for debris removal and other government assistance through Oct. 27.

In Beaumont, state officials briefed Bush and Texas Gov. Rick Perry on relief efforts. Perry later visited Port Arthur, where local officials said it could be up to three to five days before people could return and three to five weeks before power is restored.

"There's always going to be those discombobulations, but the fact is, everyone is doing everything possible to restore power back to this area," Perry said.

About 476,000 people remained without electricity in Texas, in addition to around 285,000 in Louisiana. About 15,000 out-of-state utility workers were being brought to the region to help restore power.


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