Riley could do better
Published 10:44 pm Thursday, September 23, 2004
It took them a few days, but we're glad to see the state's Emergency Management Agency and FEMA finally found out a hurricane hit Escambia County.
Earlier, we reported that Mobile County was actually at the top of the state's priority list to receive help after Hurricane Ivan.
Presumably, that ranking was based on older storm data that had Ivan delivering its worst blow in the state to Mobile.
But conditions in Mobile, just two days removed from the storm make that county seem like a post hurricane paradise compared to Escambia County's damage.
We're disappointed the state took so long to change its course and get much-needed supplies here to Escambia County.
Gov. Bob Riley deserved the tongue-lashing he received from our county's mayors. Riley and other officials in Montgomery took too long to assess what was happening and took even longer to make a decision.
We know the state is strapped for cash, but the delays in gathering information about conditions and where needs were greatest smack us of being penny-wise and pound foolish.
Hurricanes are unpredictable forces of nature, demolishing one home, town or county, while leaving another standing tall. But better lines of communication are desperately needed in the Riley administration.
To his credit, Riley now has representatives in Atmore, but as admitted in a recent meeting, Atmore Mayor Howard Shell has spoken to Riley more than this representative over the past two days.
Escambia is now receiving the help it so desperately needed immediately after the storm. But we have discovered that our state officials have many lessons they can learn from this experience. Whether or not they chose to learn them is another question entirely.