Coast Guard Commandant Comes To Gulfport - - The News for South Mississippi

Coast Guard Commandant Comes To Gulfport

Admiral Thad Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard, spoke at an informal meeting at the Coast Guard site in Gulfport.

In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, he replaced former FEMA director Michael Brown in heading up the efforts in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

So, Friday afternoon, he talked about changes in how the Coast Guard will handle this hurricane season.

"We're working pretty hard. The big difference from last season is we've taken coast guard admirals, flag officers, and pre-designated them as principal federal officials, kind of the job that I did last year. And we've married them up with FEMA, the federal coordinating officers for regions, and we've gotten them together so they'll know each other in advance. They've trained together, and we're looking at evacuations plans like if there are any gaps in resources needed to do that. In other words, do you have enough buses to move people and things like that," says Allen.

The admiral says we should expect to see closer coordination between various federal agencies, which will have an effect on the decisions of state and local governments.

But he stresses that individual decisions will be just as important this season as in the past.

"As much as the federal government can do, they can't be everywhere at once, and we realize that first response is a local responsibility. And we're not out here to preempt the ability of the state and the local folks to kind of manage their own direction if you will. But I think everybody needs to understand especially in a hurricane prone environment like the Gulf Coast, you need to take steps to be able to survive in your own house and be there for a while until you get help there, 48 to 72 hours," says Allen.

And there is good news for the Gulfport-based Coast Guard members.

Congress has agreed to legislation which would provide funds to help relocate the Gulfport facility to the west side of the Port of Gulfport.

The building was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The legislation is still pending approval from President Bush.

By Karla Redditte

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