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Jackson: Missouri is ill-prepared for large-scale disaster

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – State Rep. Jack Jackson (R-Wildwood) says he'd hoped to learn at Thursday's hearing how the state is using federal grant money to prepare for a major catastrophe.

Instead, Jackson says he believes first responders are not ready for a Katrina-level event.

"And we're making some progress...but not at the rate at which I think we need to do," Jackson said. "We're not going to have political cover for this state in the event of a major disaster.

But Missouri homeland security chief Paul Fennewald says the state's response to the rash of tornadoes earlier this month shows its emergency plans are working.

"The first responders going out there addressing the different issues; getting the federal aid...that stuff worked in this case," Fennewald said. "Certainly something the magnitude of (Hurricane) Katrina is a far greater
challenge than just dealing with 100 tornadoes - but it's the same type of thing.

Fennewald says the state is competing for shrinking shares of federal homeland security grants.

He says Missouri is asking for about $81 million this fiscal year.

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