tv [untitled] CSPAN June 4, 2009 11:00pm-11:30pm EDT
engineering and i understand madame chair you have just come back where they do a lot more active engineering to protect property dow we would look at as being in a vulnerable song so i think we are reaching the point where we come back and discuss reauthorization of the national flood insurance program and we look at the v-zones we are working under the current rules and regulations. but also looking at as we go forward is it time to recognize there are many places along the coastal communities that are going to face the same challenge in a disaster that we have to recognize if we are going to allow a repair why would a destroyed building not be the same factor and should we not be looking at if we can engineer a solution that keeps the public safe and reduces the future damages doesn't commit to new growth in these areas but allows the historical communities to rebuild as they were but better
so they are not damaged i think that is something we have to ask ourselves as a country and this will be again to your leadership and through the process of congress looking at the realization that we want guidance on but i think we have to recognize far too many areas the past approach of relocation only doesn't provide options communities need to be able to continue as we pointed out numerous times string alternative project for a fire station far away from the community it is supposed to protect doesn't make sense. >> i want the public to understand the significance of this issue right now we have communities that have been in place for hundreds of years that are vibrant communities, vital communities that are shipping communities that have been designated as v-zones. the current law says fema well, you can repair your home or repair your home but we want the fire station, we won't build a post office, we won't build a
library. so the question becomes how viable can you remain without a fire station, without a police station, without a library and that is a big question and when this matter is put up which i don't have today that is going to show all of the v-zones in the country and how many millions of people, millions and millions and millions of people which is in this senator's state and my senator's state i can promise you this is going to be a major debate on this reauthorization of flood insurance and as you know i have a hold on that bill and the hold is going to remain until this issue gets resolved in a way that i believe or my committee you know i'm only one senator, but this committee is going to work very closely with you to find a rational approach which is part of what moved evaded me to go to the netherlands because i think they have an extremely rational approach to this issue which is a whole different system we won't get into at this
hearing but we will have more hearings on the subject. i've been joined by my ranking member and i would like to recognize him now because as i was pointing out, he and i have quite a challenge, and ask why i love having him on my committee when i pointed this out to him he said yes strom thurmond was there through most of these. [laughter] he didn't miss many of them. so he is ready to work side-by-side with me and let me correct myself when i pointed out earlier, senator, the blue is actually the route of rita which is one of the second largest in katrina was the yellow, all i of course should know these patterns better than anyone, so rita was the blue and katrina was yellow and this was done before ike and i'm going to put ike up there because it ran smack into galveston and i am sure that you have had major
storms in wartime but senator let me recognize you at this time. >> that would be interesting modern art, that is scary that it represents hurricanes. hurricane hugo came through south carolina and was very devastating so i appreciate the work of the chairman of this committee and i've never met anybody in the entire congress more dedicated to the cause than you are to this subcommittee. i am just trying in to stay up with you but south carolina is certainly in harm's way and i want to thank all the folks of the level who help our fellow citizens with disaster. in myrtle beach we had a huge fire be the fire did a lot of damage to myrtle beach and it's not just hurricanes, the red cross was there so coastal communities can be hit in many different ways. rommel was born, the director of the emergency management addition could not be here today
but he prepared a report about hurricane preparedness and i but like to submit that to the record. they are doing an exercise in south carolina, major exercise by ron is a great guy and i would like to put this in the record. >> without objection. >> one final thought as you talk about, you know when you go down to the coast of south carolina, way and is obviously very valuable, but when there are a lot of minority communities where do they go? the people have been their generation after generation after generation, and where do they go and what do they do from someone that may live in nebraska or the upper part of south carolina where the hurricanes are in such a factor i think we want to make sure our coastal residents can get help. people are not being irresponsible. they are not living in areas
that are mudslides. there are so many people in the country that live along the coast and it is a rich tradition culturally and i want to hang onto it and make sure that we have that rational approach. madame chairwoman i will help you any way i can to make sure that when a community is hurt the community is rebuilt and that community includes fire stations, libraries and other aspects of the community because if you are not willing to invest in those things you've lost the community and these communities are worth hanging on to. >> thank you very much. what may ask the general question if i might. you said the exercises you recently conducted identify gaps, general, in the organization between north, and the national guard. could you identify one or two or three of those gaps you all identified and what you are doing to close them?
>> madame chairwoman, as we met in south carolina in february, the first thing we did is brought together the staff from the national guard from each of the 11 coastal states, and we sat with the national guard, fema, and then brought in representatives from beaufort county level first responder and brought in the state coordinating officer and well we did is walked through the gaps from how the local would be responding, how the state would respond than the national guard gave a lead down by state where the shortfalls were then fema came and explained what capabilities they may be requesting and then the general summarized the table top exercise. i would tell you the biggest shortfall in this current hurricane season probably is in the brigade structure within the national guard because the number of brigades deploying. even though it is a shortfall in
certain regions and it's not a short fall across the nation so it is reallocating forces and the national guard is working closely right now with the state general to identify the forces that can fill the shortfall is so the brigade structure is one area. another area was the number of aircraft that could be deployed again we looked at across the states and there's plenty of assets available. again identifying those well in advance who would back up to and we looked closely at the active component both army navy air force marine and assets working with coast guard through the dhs to see where their assets would be available as the rotary wing would be called in the emergency. the last area that i did mention that is of concern to us and we worked closely last week with u.s. transportation command dhs, fema, ehud and tallman services and veterans administration is aeromedical evacuation, and i think that we have improved
greatly since the last hurricane season on the ability to identify patients that may be moved, how to receive them on the outbound end, and the problem i think that we will face and we brought it up and discussed at great length is the release time at local and state level because if you wait until the last moment we can only move so many patient so we are trying to have defense coordinating officers working closely with administer -- minister fugate and to give the time line and say to make the decisions in 48 hours here is a number of patients we can still move and get aircraft in. >> i'm going to ask my staff at the next hearing to design a chart along the gulf coast from texas to new york and indicate how many nursing home patients live within 30 miles of the coast and i am going to provide those numbers for you because as you know, in katrina we had the unfortunate incident of dozens
of patients drowned in those nursing homes and of course it was quite traumatic for the families as well as the victim's obviously. but i don't think people realize like senator gramm just said how many people live near this coast and not everyone that lives near the coast has an automobile. not everyone is well. not everyone is strong enough for young enough to move out, they have got to have help moving out or wealthy enough to afford the several thousand dollars at a minimum that it costs to leave your home for several days even if you manage to just find shelter in a tent there some expense associated with this. and i just don't think people have an idea of this that have
not recently gone through what some of our states have gone through. so that is going to be an interesting focus and i think that you've identified this situation as something of the national guard and north palm can be helpful because as you know states normally governors might have one helicopter the move them around but we don't have helicopters that move like all the citizens so it would be helpful to have these federal assets being able to do this evaluation. did you have a comment or question? >> very quickly. it's not a question of lack of capacity in terms of the overall numbers for the guard. it's just the resources may not be in the right spot; is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> recruiting retention is good now? >> they are over strength now. >> how important is the guard to hurricane assistance in terms of
the different agencies involved? hauer important does the guard, what role do they play? >> i can't talk for the national guard being a title ten federal officer right now serving at northern command but i grew up in the missouri national guard so i will talk about my experiences from the past but they are the first responders and fire departments, emergency responders and governor and so they are we to be their first and it behooves us at north comm. to look at their response times because if they are successful let the local level that is less the last we have to put forward. >> you don't see any need from this committee of the armed services committee to plus up anything it is just to redistribute, reorganize we have got? >> yes, senator. the congress has been very gracious with the department of defense and our ability to look what we call the essentials we use in the homeland, the capabilities that respond to
disasters and we are coming along very well improving the capabilities especially in the equipping of those essentials. >> thank you. mr. fugate, but to comment on your perspective on the national guard the role of the national guard and do you find it to be essential? how do you want to position your organization with it and then if you could do that in one minute or less or two and also comment on this idea that's been moving around about a sort of civilian ready reserve that could supplement both fema and the national guard in terms of trained personnel that could be called out in the event of a catastrophic disaster which obviously we can't maintain, you know, on call every day but it would be nice to maybe have something like that. maybe we don't need it. maybe that is what the red cross
is going to do or maybe that is the will of the national guard plays but if there is a gap comment on the national guard and then the ready reserve idea. >> thank you, madame chair. national guard is a component of any ability to respond to disasters. they are a force multiplier for the local and state responders and again, after with your leadership upon my confirmation one of my first visits is general mckinley commanding the national guard bureau having worked closely on that relationship, and again, we have a very strong statewide mutual aid system under pnac and we leverage that with national guard so as the unit's rotate in and out we have capability to identify other states and in addition to that there is a lot of work done to make sure that things such as joint operation center are ready to go and support each other and i think it is a good team and it is a key component of the national defense strategy but most important they are the first of the assets available to the
governors on the authority and those governors can request from other state governors additional guard units as part of their authority managing a disaster. as far as the reserve component there's actually requirements provided post-katrina emergency reform act. for fema the bill building more response and training capabilities within our reserve force and so we are looking at that as far as a standing reserve, that would be something i would like to further research by the there are elements of that we are already seeing in the programs where we are not creating such a formal reserve process but to building community emergency response teams to start training, and it's in many cases building capabilities that are more adequately leveraged at the local level by enhancing through community emergency response team through citizen core capabilities people stand ready to help in their neighborhoods
and communities when disaster strikes. >> thank you. general, i have one more question for you and then one more for mr. fugate and we are going to move to the next panel and a minute. when you all did your assessment on the joint task force, one of the issues that came up for the sick that cans of particularly the coast. all of the coast have port assets that of course must be maintained on just for the benefit of the communities, but the nation's economy depends and in some measure you could say the world economy depends on the continued operations of these major ports many of them obviously if you start from houston and work your way up to new york or many major airports that can be affected and we saw when katrina hid one of the largest by volume port in the
nation was shot down for a long period of time and the oil and gas operations of the gulf coast came precariously close. had rita hit houston, which it did not, it hit close to houston, it's very -- it was interesting as someone might want to write what could have happened to the price of oil and gas had both the port of new orleans and port of houston and almost all offshore operations at that point would have been shut down for quite some time that didn't happen but it would be an interesting research project but what is your responsibility to the ports to keeping them open and how did you discuss that at your exercise and could you testify to that point, please? >> madam chairman, again, working with fema and i will give an example what we did
during hurricane ike last year. we worked closely with coast guard through dhs and fema and fema requested amphibious ship be deployed into the gulf, and the port of galveston was devastated by hurricane ike and there was one over 100 obstacles in the channel so the uss wasp way and we have any given day two ships on the east coast and to on the west coast primarily amphibious that can take on rotary wing also the time to unload all the back that can respond and we had navy seabees on board that went ashore and worked with locals to try to open the port facilities. i can working at the request of fema. >> you said you have to on the east coast and west coast, do you have any on the gulf coast? >> not at this point but the two on the east coast would respond -- >> they are able to get there in time? andy notice? >> yes, ma'am. if we receive a request from fema we are prepared to move
those and as we move those again we are looking at that have to get clothes into a port as we can outside of the storm passed. >> last question mr. fugate and i'm going to submit several about pets, about coming into disaster loans and other things, trailers, alternative housing, but because my time is short and because the season is now and because a storm will hit this debris removal for local communities is a nightmare and causes and medicaid pain and suffering on the part of local officials that one of the first things they have to do is remove debris. and we had one headache after another about fema's rules and regulation when something like this, if a tree limb was more than 5 inches round you got reimbursed at 100%. if it was 4 inches you got 80% and if it was 2 inches, you got
30%. i make saturating a little bit but for the purposes of this hearing what has been changed about debris removal in a catastrophic major storm what hope could you give these local officials that that is one of their immediate headaches trying to clear the streets, their roads so people can get back? obviously with the brief no one can move that has to be done and it seems to me we keep making mistake after mistake after mistake. so what can you do as the fema director to put a system in place that's clear, easy to use, and cost effective. we are not asking the federal government to pick up 100% but we are asking the federal government to have clear rules and regulations so the local officials can actually began the recovery because without debris removal there is no recovery.
>> madame chair, debris and emergency protective measures are two of the things i think we have to make sure we know what the outcome is so we can get there quickly and that is to get debris or one we can get access in the community and number two we get the debris so we prevent the problems that it creates and we begin the recovery. there were some successful programs, there were pilots up like to revisit that provided better incentive financially to the governments and states who went ahead and developed a plan so they had many of these questions answered and they knew what they were going to do but i think it is also incumbent at fema to make sure the guidance is providing clear direction without being process that is so difficult as a local official the only way i can understand is to hire a former fema official as a contractor to explain the rules are now having to seek reimbursement from federal government and my time of need. >> thank you very much. thank you. the panel has been wonderful.
>> thank you very much for joining. i would like to introduce all of you and then in the order i do so you're asked to proceed with a were opening remarks. our first witness today on the second panel will be george forssmann. mr. foresman co-chairs the advisory board for the corporate crisis response officers association. he's also a former undersecretary for preparedness and emergency response at the department of homeland security. the corporate crisis response offices association is a new organization to identify, train and engage crisis response officers and new corporate position as local contact points for the public sector. sali as the chair of this committee and you heard mr. fugate say we look to the private-sector for partners and we want to edna only look to the
private sector for partners but i want to look to the private-sector for better technologies, operations and efficiencies that we can of course incorporate into the government response and we thank you very much for your testimony today and we are anxious to hear your views and perspectives. next we will hear from armand mascelli from the american red cross. mr. mascelli is responsible for initiating and coordinating red cross response to major domestic disasters and managing the organizations disaster logistics technology and human resources systems. i'm very interested. i understand the red cross since katrina has gone through a major reorganization and we are looking forward to hearing some of the outcomes today. finally, last but certainly not least, mrs. janet durden, president of louisianan united way said she served as
coordinating council person for louisiana 211 but this is a nationwide emergency response system that i think can be very helpful and all of the issues we've talked about this morning. so, mr. foresman if you will begin, thank you. >> [inaudible] >> can you pull the microphone a little bit closer? there you go. >> normally my booming voice works wonders. senator landrieu, thank you for the average bennati to be with you and talk about the work of the ready communities partnership. we've provided written testimony to respectfully requested it be included in the record. the community's partnership is an initiative of the corporate crisis response officers association that seeks to identify and implement best practices in public and private sector disaster response and recovery efforts. this initiative is grassroots
developed by a coalition of public and private sector leaders who recognize better prepare best for emergencies and disasters couldn't depend on actions of federal government or in fact government alone. this initiative is on a community-based approach that seeks to further galvanize resources of the public and private sectors to address large scale crisis in a community. these sectors depend on each other on day-to-day life of a community as they collaborate how to improve economical competitiveness, schools and infrastructure. the partnership operates under a tenant the dependency should be just as strong if not stronger during a crisis. yet today even following katrina and other disasters widespread cultural belief remains in visions crisis response and recovery during the first critical 72 hours is being government centric with private sector engagement limited to those for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations to develop essential services like electricity, phone, a deeply removal or disaster aid.
as a result private-sector is viewed as a part of the victim population rather than as a potential community resource to be leveraged the eletes g8 suffering and help communities return to normal. the community partnership seeks to give political and business leaders as well as emergency managers additional low-cost tool to improve private-sector integration for pre-and post crisis efforts while simultaneously acknowledging it must be accomplished in a manner that complements existing government centered come into prepared initiatives. a specific to the challenges we face for the upcoming hurricane season, america's newest fema at ennis tater greg fugate provided a compelling update on fema's readiness for the season. i cannot think of a better more qualified professional to weed fema. i also offer as someone who's been associated in the field more than a quarter-century craig and his team are collectively the most diverse qualified and hands on experience group to eckert
occupy the seats of the agency. this has been bolstered by the group and its parent organization at the department of homeland security. it gives me optimism and it should get optimism to americans the federal government is continuing to reform and improve its ability to support communities and states dealing with emergencies and disasters of all kinds. but to be fair however even with this leadership team the federal government is but one part of america's prepared this equation. federal readiness shouldn't imply national readiness other parts, local and state government, nonprofits, private-sector and america's citizens have equal like compelling important roles in all aspects of the community. in a community -- all aspects of communities largest government actions we need to make sure the entire community is ready for the hurricane season. our recent work with private sector will to to the flu outbreak provides anecdotal evidence to suggest private-sector preparedness efforts remain and consistent and not coordinated with grumet
officials in communities where these businesses operate. even with heightened tension to nationwide pandemic planning over the past four years there's been supplies the number of businesses large and small who've done nothing at the assumption the local state and federal government will and can do everything when a crisis like a hurricane or pandemic appears at the front door. yet at the same time we've seen innovative hurricane preparedness efforts along the gulf coast and atlantic coast between local and state governments and private sector and in states such as florida. but unfortunately these are not replicated across all states vulnerable to a hurricane strike. in light of both we are left to conclude on the whole community prepared miss with the mix of private collaboration in mutual dependence is lacking. this will create unrealistic expectations and requirements for government and especially for the federal government. this committee knows with preparedness efforts leaders make a difference. business and government making political and