Jeb: This is how to respond to hurricanes

Florida's governor said relying on federal officials can be a critical error.

Published October 24, 2005

NAPLES - Gov. Jeb Bush praised Florida emergency management officials on Monday while blasting the efforts of Louisiana officials during Hurricane Katrina.

Bush said Florida responded successfully in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma because the state relied on the expertise of local emergency managers. He said relying on federal emergency officials can be a fatal blunder.

"Our system is a bottoms-up system," Bush said. "In the case of Louisiana it was left to the federal government to fill a void and the consequences are there for the rest of the world to see."

"This is the model for how to respond to hurricanes," Bush said of Florida. "Compare this to what happened a month and a half ago in other parts of the country."

Bush spoke at the Collier County emergency operations center after he was briefed by local officials. He praised the residents of Collier County for heeding evacuation orders, and criticized residents of the Florida Keys who did not evacuate.

"Too many people stayed," Bush said. "And for the life of me, I cannot understand why."

Bush said 3,000 National Guard troops already have been activated, and 3,000 more are on standby. He said emergency officials would soon set up checkpoints to distribute relief supplies.

Bush also said Wilma's quick romp through Florida had hurt not just the coast of Collier County, but much of the rest of the state as well. He said it is important to make sure relief efforts reach residents in hard-hit rural parts of central Florida, citing damage in Immokalee, LaBelle and Clewiston.