Rita victims still wait for help

Nearly four days after Hurricane Rita hit, many of the storm's victims are still waiting for electricity, gasoline, water and other relief. The situation prompted one top emergency official to complain that people are "living like cavemen."

In the hard-hit refinery towns of Port Arthur and Beaumont, crews struggled to cross debris-clogged streets to deliver generators and water to people stranded by Rita. They predicted it could be a month before power is restored, and said water and sewer systems could not function until more generators arrived.

Hurricane Rita victims along the rural Texas Gulf Coast are waiting to see whether their complaints about sluggish federal and state aid result in speedier action in the coming days.

Mayor Oscar Ortiz expressed cautious optimism after meeting with Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday, but said he's still relying more on private companies and individuals than the government as the city struggles to recover.

"I'm just hoping (the government) comes through," Ortiz said. "It seems like the larger towns in the news are the ones getting the help."

About 476,000 people remained without electricity in Texas on Tuesday, in addition to around 285,000 in Louisiana. About 15,000 out-of-state utility workers were being brought to the region to help restore power.

Ortiz was blocking residents from returning for three to five days because of a lack of services. The estimated 2,000 people who stayed put during the storm, which made landfall Saturday along the Texas-Louisiana border, face an overnight curfew.

The White House said complete federal funding for debris removal, emergency protective measures and direct federal assistance was extended through Oct. 27.

Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady, whose district includes some of the counties hit by Rita, said he will be developing legislation to provide relief, especially for towns that took in evacuees from Hurricane Katrina, the AP reports.

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