Today, Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) hosted a delegation of fellow Texas Members to meet with the Friends of Southeast Texas. The group is comprised of community leaders from Southeast Texas in an effort to bring awareness to the needs of their region in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita and create a plan for future disaster preparedness. Congressman Poe hosted the meeting in his Washington, DC office and has been working with the group to ensure that they receive equal treatment under the Federal relief efforts for both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Members of the group were given the opportunity to meet with other Texas Congressional Members about the recovery efforts that are taking place and express the need for continued support in the area. Congress has appropriated over $62 billion for hurricane relief after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. However, about $40 billion remains unspent by FEMA. Congress is considering the Presidents request to reallocate $17 billion of this $40 billion to begin rebuilding critical infrastructure and to continue recovery efforts from the recent hurricanes. Congressman Poe has been working directly with local leaders in the community to evaluate the countys most pressing needs and will present his request to Chairman Jerry Lewis of the Appropriations Committee.

Todays meeting is a continued effort on the part of local leaders and Congressman Poe to raise national awareness to those affected by the Forgotten Hurricane. There was another Hurricane besides Katrina and her devastation had the same impact on the people of southeast Texas, said Poe. I will continue to fight for the people of Jefferson County to see that they get every thing they deserve and need to get their lives back on track. Making sure that they are fairly represented and equally compensated remains my top priority.

Participating in todays meeting were Friends for Southeast Texas Members: Alan Ritter, State Representative, District 21; Joe Desotel, State Representative, District 22; Mark Viator, Manager, Government Relations, BASF; Shawn Oubre, City Manager of Orange; Eddie Arnold, Jefferson County, County Commissioner; Jim Rich, President of the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce; Danielle Delgadillo, Legislative Assistant to Senator Kyle Janek; Don Fields, City Manager of Bridge City; Steve Fitzgibbons, City Manager of Port Arthur; Bishop Randy Clark; Chester Jourdan, Executive Director of South East Texas Regional Planning Commission; Eddie Bates, President and CEO of C and I Oil.

Texas Congressional Members in attendance: Congressman Michael McCaul; Congressman Gene Green; Congressman Chet Edwards; Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee. Representatives from the following offices were also in attendance: Congressman Brady; Congressman Cuellar; Congressman Gonzalez; Congressman Carter; Congressman Paul Ortiz; Congressman Barton; Congressman Culberson; Congressman Sessions; Senator Cornyn; Senator Hutchison.