Victims' Rights Caucus

Press Releases

Following Hurricane Rita, Congressman Poe and his staff immediately responded to the needs of the people in Jefferson County. Congressman Poe was in Jefferson County Sunday morning after Rita passed and personally met with First Responders on the ground, took an aerial tour with Beaumont Police of the region and Port areas.

The District Office was closed because of the evacuation and power outages, but staff members were immediately relocated, and phones redirected, to the Humble office to assist constituents navigating the FEMA process and direct people to the agencies offering on-site assistance.

In the weeks following, Congressman Poe and his staff held a daily conference call for ALL area officials to call in with their needs and concerns.

He traveled to the area with President Bush on Air Force One and was able to take another aerial helicopter tour with him to personally point out and discuss the damage and needs of the people in Jefferson County.

That same week, he returned with the Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns, and met with local rice farmers and also accompanied him on an aerial tour surveying the toll Rita took on our regions farming and agriculture industry.

Congressman Poe hosted a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) from the Homeland Security Subcommittee on October 30, 2005. The CODEL took and aerial tour of the Gulf Coast region from Galveston to Louisiana border. Congressman Poe and the CODEL members met with local officials in Jefferson County at Lamar University to discuss recovery efforts and federal response.

The Congressional District Office has coordinated with local Chambers of Commerce to hold two informational workshops with the Small Business Association to help area business owners be better informed of assistance that is available to them. Congressman Poe met with Small Business Administration Director, Hector Barreto to emphasize the need to cut through red tape to help the businesses in Southeast Texas. The GO Loan program was announced by the SBA shortly after their meeting.

On October 22, 2005, Congressman Poe was joined by over 100 constituents, 35 FEMA, Corps of Engineer and SBA representatives at a Town Hall meeting in Beaumont to update residents on what is being done on their behalf and address concerns they are having in the recovery process. Another FEMA Town Hall meeting was held on November 19, 2005, in Port Arthur. Congressman Poe was also joined by area farmers for an Agriculture Town Hall meeting on November 30, 2005. Representatives from FEMA, USDA, SBA, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Texas Department of Insurance, and Texas Department of Agriculture were on hand to answer questions and provide direct assistance.

In the weeks after Hurricane Rita, Congressman Poe met personally with Homeland Security Director, Michael Chertoff, to emphasize the need for full federal funding in Southeast Texas, particular relating to our request to President Bush and FEMA for 100 percent funding of debris removal in Jefferson County. To our disappointment, FEMA denied our request.

That same day, Congressman Poe addressed the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environments Hurricane Preparedness Panel about the need to discuss equalization of federal relief efforts as it applies to both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He specifically reminded the Panel, Let me be candid, Port Arthur is just as important as New Orleans. The 40 year old levy in Port Arthur did not break, but people suffered from Hurricane Rita anyway.

Congress appropriated more that $1.6 million in emergency funding for the Sabine Neches Water Way (SNWW). The funding will assist in clean up and additional dredging in recovery efforts as a result of both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Chris Fisher, Executive Director of the Port of Beaumont, expressed his gratitude of the efforts made to