Miss. emergency head: Streamline disaster recovery

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency director is making recommendations to Congress about streamlining the recovery process in large disasters.

Robert Latham says after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Mississippi officials were frustrated that the federal government required separate environmental and historic preservation reviews for some projects. He says the duplicated efforts slowed recovery and a single review would suffice.

Latham testified Tuesday in Washington before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The panel is reviewing preparation, response and recovery surrounding Superstorm Sandy, which struck the East Coast in October.

Latham says the Federal Emergency Management Agency should allow states to spend slightly more to manage recovery projects. He says doing so would allow the hiring of additional employees for recovery, freeing up regular government employees to focus on providing basic services.