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 » Rebuilding  |  Landmarks  | Storm & Flood  |  Special report

FEMA to get tough with next hurricane

Federal, state officials focus on evacuation and coordination

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Acting FEMA head David Paulison says the plight of Katrina evacuees makes evacuation planning a priority.

SPECIAL REPORT

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (CNN) -- The Gulf Coast will be widely and quickly evacuated this hurricane season, even if the storm doesn't threaten to smash levees and leave a metropolis under water, state and federal officials said Tuesday.

The thousands of families displaced by Hurricane Katrina make the need for prompt evacuation dire, added one official.

"We have probably 94,000 travel trailers out there with families in them spread across three states, and these people have to be evacuated during even a Category 1 hurricane," said David Paulison, acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (Watch how officials are trying too avoid a repeat of Katrina -- 1:27)

Paulison met with Louisiana officials and representatives from six coastal parishes to hammer out federal, state and local coordination for the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on June 1 and lasts until the end of November.

Many blame lack of coordination at all three levels of government for the 1,300 deaths -- mostly in Louisiana -- caused when Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast on August 29.

Another measure announced Tuesday was that New Orleans, Louisiana, will have no "shelters of last resort" for the city's 225,000 parish residents, said Orleans Parish's homeland security chief Col. Terry Ebbert.

The Superdome served that role during Katrina, with thousands taking refuge inside the 269,000-square-foot stadium. Evacuees were left without food, water or electricity for days, prompting widespread criticism of the government's handling of the disaster.

"Our goal is to ensure that we create an environment that it makes more sense for every one of those individuals to leave in the face of storm rather than stay," Ebbert said. "There will be no shelters of last resort."

Ebbert said the government is looking into freeing up rail service, aircraft and buses to help evacuate residents who do not have their own transportation.

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