The costs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina continue to rise as communities in and out of the state will want compensation for things like taking in evacuees, health care, debris removal, temporary housing, clothing and vehicle replacement. Here, 5-year-old Christallie Ewing waited on her grandmother's lap yesterday for a children's amusement event to begin in the Salvation Army shelter in Biloxi, Miss.

Isle delegation
criticizes slow
federal response
to Katrina

Lingle counters that it
is too soon to judge
FEMA's performance

WASHINGTON » Hawaii's Democratic congressional delegation blasted the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina, but Republican Gov. Linda Lingle says it is too soon to judge the relief effort.

Lingle, in the nation's capital to lobby for the stalled native Hawaiian recognition bill, praised the Federal Emergency Management Agency's past actions and declined to grade its performance after the Gulf Coast hurricane.

"It is very hard to tell," said Lingle, a former Maui mayor. "It is just too early to know what happened. In my own experience, FEMA has been quite good. We have had excellent relationships and excellent responses from FEMA."

But Hawaii's senior senator, Daniel Inouye, criticized the lack of action and coordination by FEMA.

"I hate to criticize my government, but this one makes me want to cry. The world is looking at us as the superpower not knowing what to do," Inouye said.

The performance of the national emergency agency has dominated political discussions in Washington, and Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka made a rare Senate floor speech yesterday to remind senators that he had feared the agency would not perform well.

Akaka had concerns in 2002 when FEMA was included in the Department of Homeland Security.

"I repeatedly expressed my strong concern that non-homeland security functions of the federal government would be diminished if included in the new department," Akaka said. "My colleagues and I must carefully re-examine whether critical non-homeland security missions have been compromised."

"I don't want to point fingers, but my hope is that we sit down and look this whole thing over and do the proper thing," Akaka said in an interview, adding that the agency should be restored to Cabinet-level status and regain its independence from Homeland Security.

Democratic Rep. Ed Case also decried the delays in getting aid and support to survivors.

"The extent of devastation took everyone by surprise. It has to be said, I don't think anyone anticipated the extent of looting and lawlessness, but there was a clear delay by our federal government after they knew what was going on. That is inexcusable," Case said.

National polls by CBS and CNN/USA Today report that Americans disapprove of the way President Bush and the federal government handled the aftermath of the hurricane.

Lingle, however, defended Bush, saying that a poll would be just a "snapshot in time."

"It is difficult to judge from the outside without knowing all the facts," Lingle said. "I think history is the only real judge of a mayor or governor or president."

Red Cross Katrina victim database

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