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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 5, 2009 7:30am-8:00am EDT

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correct myself. when i pointed out earlier, senator, the blue is actually the route of rita which was one of the second largest, i think, storms of all of these and katrina was the yellow. and i said the reverse and i, of course, should know these patterns better than anyone. so rita was the blue. and katrina was the yellow. and this was done before ike. and i'm going to put ike up there because it really ran smack in galveston. >> that would be interesting modern art. it's just scary that it represents hurricane, hurricane hugo came through south carolina and it was very devastating. i appreciate the work of the chairman of this committee. i've never met anybody in the entire congress more dedicated to a cause than of this subcommittee. i'm just trying to stay up with you. south carolina is certainly in harm's way. i want to thank all the folks at
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state, local, federal level who help our fellow citizens in disaster. in myrtle beach we had a huge fire. the fire did a lot of damage to myrtle beach. it's not just hurricanes. the red cross was there so hurricanes are what we're talking about. so coastal communities can be hit by many different ways. ron osborn, the director of the emergency management division office of the general could not be here but he prepared a report about hurricane preparedness and i'd like to submit it to the record. they're doing a major exercise in south carolina today. ron is a very smart guy and i'd like to put this in the record. >> without objection. >> and one final thought, as you talk about -- you know, when you go down to the coast of south carolina, land is obviously very valuable. but when -- there are a lot of minority communities.
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where do they go? their people have been literally there generation after generation after generation and where do they go and what do they do. from someone who may live in nebraska or in the upper part of south carolina where hurricanes are not such a factor, i think we want to make sure that our coastal residents can get help. i mean, people are not being irresponsible. they're not living in areas for mudslides. there are so many people in our country lives along the coast and it's a rich tradition culturally. and i want to hang onto it. i want to make sure we have that rational approach. madam chairman, i'll 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're not willing to invest in those things, you've lost the community and these communities
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are worth hanging on to. >> let me ask the general a question if i might. you said the exercises that you've recently conducted identified some gaps, general, in the organization as between northcom and the national guard. could you identify for us one or two or three of those gaps that you all identified and what you're doing to close them. >> madam chairman, as we met in south carolina in february, the first thing we did is we brought together the staff of -- from the national guard from each of the 11 coastal states and we sit with the national guard, fema and then we brought in a representative buford county first responder and then we brought in the state coordinating officer and what we did is we walked through those gaps from how the locals would be responding, how the state
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would respond. then the national guard gave us is lay-down by state of where their shortfalls were. and then fema came in and explained what capabilities they may be requesting and then the general summarized the tabletop exercise. i would tell you that the biggest shortfall in this current hurricane season probably is in the brigade structure within the national guard because of the number of brigades deployed. even though it's a shortfall in certain regions and it's not a shortfall across the nation. so it's a matter of reallocating forces and the national guard is working very closely with the state's office to fill those shortfalls. so the brigade structure was one area and another was a rotary air wing aircraft. again we looked across the states and there's plenty of assets available. it's again identifying those well in advance who would back up who within the states and on top of that, we've looked
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closely at the active component both army, navy, air force, marines and coast guard assets working with the coast guard through dhs to see where their assets would be available as rotary wing would be called into the emergency. the last area that i would mention that is of concern to us and we worked closely last week with u.s. transportation command, dhs, fema, health and human services and the veterans administration is aeromedical evacuation. and we improved on the ability to identify patients who need to be removed and how to receive them on the outbound end and the problem, i think, that we'll face and we brought it up and discussed it at great length is the release time of those patients at local and state level. because if you wait till the last moment we can only move so many patients so we're trying to have our defense coordinating officers working closely with administrator fugate's federal coordinating officers to talk to
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the locals. if you make the decision 48 hours, here's the number of patients that we can still move and get aircraft in. >> now, 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'm going to provide those numbers for you because as you know in katrina, we had the very unfortunate incidents of dozens of patients drowned in those nursing homes and, of course, it was quite traumatic for the families as well as for the victims, obviously. but i don't think people realize like senator graham just said, how many people live near this coast. and not everyone that lives near the coast has an automobile.
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not everyone is well. not everyone is strong enough or young enough to move out. they've got to have help moving out or wealthy enough to afford the several thousand dollars at a minimum that it cost to leave your home for several days. even if you manage to just find shelter in a tent, there's some expense associated with this. and i just don't think people have an idea 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 medi vak situation as something the national guard and northcom can be very, very helpful because as you know states normally governors might have one helicopter that moved them around but we don't have helicopters that move like all the citizens around. so it would be helpful to have these federal assets being able to do this evacuation.
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did you have a comment or a question? >> very quickly. general, the -- it's not a question of lack of capacity in terms of overall numbers for the guard. it's just the resources may not be in the right spot; is that correct? >> senator, yes, sir. >> and i hear recruiting and retention is pretty good in the guard >> yes, sir, they're overstrength right now. >> how important is the guard to hurricane assistance in terms of the different agencies involved? how important does the guard -- what role do they play? >> i can't talk the national guard being a title 10 federal officer right now serving at northern command but i grew up in the missouri national guard so i'll talk about my experiences from the past. but they're the first responders in support of the fire departments, the emergency responders and the governor. and so they're going to be there first. and it behooves us at north com to understand their capability,
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look at their response times because if they're successful at the local level, that's less federal assets that we have to put forward. >> you don't see any need from this committee the arms services committee to plus up anything. it's to redistribute and reorganize everything that we've got? >> yes, sir. the congress has been very gracious with the department of defense and our ability what we use in the ten essentials we use in the homeland. the capabilities we respond to disasters. and we're coming on very well in improving that capability especially in equipping of those ten essentials. >> thank you. and mr. fugate, would you comment from 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 then also comment on this idea that has been moving around here
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about a -- sort of a 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 everyday. but it would be nice to maybe have something like that. maybe we don't need it. maybe that's what the red cross is going to do or maybe that's the role the national guard plays but if there is a gap, so comment on the national guard and then this ready reserve idea. >> national guard is the ability to respond to natural disasters. again with your leadership upon my confirmation one of my first visits with general mckinley commanding general the national guard bureau having worked very
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closely knowing that relationship we have a very strong mutual aid system under e-mack. we leveraged with the national guard so units rotate in and out we have capability we identify in other states. there are a lot of work done within the tags such as joint operation center training that they are ready to go. i think it's a good team. it's a key component of our national defense strategy. but most importantly, they are the first of those assets available to governors on that governor's authority and that governors can request from other state governors additional guard units as part of their authority in managing a disaster. as far as the reserve component there's actually some requirements that have been provided to post-katrina reform act for fema to build and take our existing structures to build a more responsible force and provide more training and capabilities within our reserve force. and so we are looking at that. as far as a standing reserve,
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that would be something i'd like to further research but i think there are some elements of that that we're already seeing some of our programs where we're not creating so much a formal reserve process but building like community emergency response teams through the cert training and building capabilities that are more adequately leveraged at the local level by enhancing through community emergency response team through citizen corps capabilities that people stand ready to help in their neighborhoods and their communities when a disaster strikes. >> thank you. general, i have one more question for you and then one more for mr. fugate and then we're going to move to the next panel in a minute. when you all did your assessment of the joint task force, one of the issues that came up were the significance of particularly this coast. i mean, all of our coasts have port assets, port assets. that, of course, must be maintained not just for the
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benefit of those communities but the nation's economy depends and in some measure you could say the world's economy depends on the continued operations of these major ports. many of them, obviously, if you start from houston and just work your way up to new york, are many major ports that can be affected. and we saw when katrina hit one of the largest by volume port in the nation was shut down for a long period of time. and the oil and gas operations off the gulf coast came precariously close. had rita hit houston, which it did not, it hit close to houston, it's very -- you know, it was very interesting as someone might want to write what could have happened to the price of oil and gassed both the port of new orleans and the port of houston and almost all offshore
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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 all discuss that at your exercise and could you testify to that point, please? >> madam chairman, again, working with fema and i'll give you an example of what we did during hurricane ike last year. we worked closely with the coast guard through dhs and fema and fema requested an amphibious ship be deployed in the gulf and the port of galveston was definite stated by hurricane ike and there was over 100 obstacles in the channel and so the uss nassau was deployed there. we have any given day two ships on the east coast two ships on the west coast that would take on rotary wing hilos and the type you unhold vessels out in
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the back that you could respond and we had navy cbs on board that went ashore and worked with the locals to try to open the port facilities. again working at the request of fema. >> okay. now, you said you have ships on the east coast and the west coast. do you have any on the gulf coast? >> no, ma'am, not at this point. but the two on the east coast -- >> and they're able to get there on time and be prepositioned if you had enough notice? >> yes, ma'am. if we received a request from fema, we're prepared to move those. and as we move those again we're looking at the storm path to try to get them as close in a path as we can outside of the storm path. >> last question mr. fugate, and i'm going to submit several about pets, about community disaster loans and other things, trailers, alternative housing but because my time is short and because the season is now and because the storm will hit, this debris removal for local communities is a nightmare and
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it causes unmitigated 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 just one headache after another about fema's rules and regulations that when went something else. if the tree limb was 3 inches 100% you got wubt. if it was 4 inches you got 80% and it was 2 inches you got 30%. i'm exaggerating a little bit. but for the purposes of this hearing, what has been changed about debris removal in a catastrophic or major storm? what hope could you give to these local officials that that is one of their immediate headaches trying to just clear their streets, clear their roads so people can get back. obviously, with debris there, no one can move. that has to be done and it seems to me that we keep making
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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're 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 begin the recovery because without debris removal, there is no recovery. >> madam chair, debris and emergency protective measures are two of those things that 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 where, one, we can get access in the community and, two, we get the debris up so we prevent the problems it creates and we begin the recovery. there were some successful programs started. there were pilots. i would like to revisit those that provided a better incentive financially to the local governments and states who went
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ahead debris management programs so they had many of these questions answered and knew what they were going to do but i think it's also incumbent upon us at fema to make sure that our guidance is providing clear direction without being a process that is so difficult that as a local official the only way i can address it is hiring fema officials as a contractor of the rules that i'm having to seek reimbursement from the federal government in my time of need. >> thank you very much. thank you, the panel has been wonderful. i wish we could spend more time. we will follow up. thank you. and if the second panel would come forward. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> if you all would take your seats, please. thank you all very much for joining us. i'd like to introduce all of you and then in the order that i do so, you're asked to proceed. with your opening remarks. our first witness today on the second panel will be george forceman. mr. forceman cochairs the advisory board for the corporate crisis response officers association. he's also the former
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undersecretary for preparedness and emergency response at the department of homeland security. the corporate crisis response office association is a new organization chartered to identify, train and engage crisis response officers a new corporate position as local contact points for the public sector. so i am as chair of this committee and you heard mr. fugate say that we look to the private sector for partners. we want to not 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. we're anxious to hear your views and perspective. next, we'll hear from armand mascelli. mr. mascelli is vice president for disaster operations at the american red cross. mr. mascelli is responsible for initiating and coordinating red
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cross' response to major domestic disasters from managing the organization disaster logistic technologies and human resource systems. i'm very interested -- i understand the red cross since katrina has gone through a major reorganization and we're looking forward to hearing some of the outcomes today. and finally, last but most certainly not least, mrs. janet durden, president of northeast louisiana united way. she served as a coordinating councilperson for louisiana 211 but this is a nationwide emergency response system that i think can be very, very helpful in all of the issues that we've talked about this morning. so mr. forceman, if you'll begin. thank you. >> senator, thank you very much for the invitation to be here. >> can you pull the mic a little bit closer. there you go. >> normally, my booming voice works wonders.
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senator landrieu, thank you for the opportunity to be with you this afternoon and to talk about the important work of the ready community's partnership. we provided written testimony and respectfully request that it be included in the record. it seeks to identify and implement best practices that help support improvements in public and private sector disaster response and recovery efforts. this initiative has grassroots. developed by a coalition of public and private sector leaders who recognize that better preparedness for emergencys and disasters could not solely depend on the action of the federal government or, in fact, government alone. this initiative is centered on a community-based approach that seeks to further galvanize the private and public sectors to address a large scale crisis in a community. these two sectors depend on each other and on day-to-day life on a community as they collaborate on how to improve their economic competitiveness, schools and infrastructure. the partnership operates
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undertakenet that the dependency should be just as strong if not stronger during a crisis. following katrina and other disasters a culture belief that envisions crisis response and recovery during those first critical 72 hours as being government-centric with private sector engagement limited to those for-profit companies and not-for-profit organizations that deliver essential services like electricity, debris removal and disaster aid. the broader private sector aid is part of the victim population rather than as a potential community of resources to be leveraged to eliminate suffering and speed up recovery and the community's return to normal. the ready community's partnership seeks to give local political and business leaders as well as emergency managers an additional low cost tool to improve private center integration for management and
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acknowledge that the community preparedness initiative. specific to the challenges we face for the upcoming hurricane season, america's newest fema administrator craig fugate has just provided you a very compelling update for fema's readiness for the upcoming season. i cannot think of a better professional to lead fema. as someone who has been associated with the field for more of a quarter of a century craig and his something management team are the most diverse, qualified and hands-on group to occupy the senior seats of this agency. this is bolster by its group in the parent organization the department of homeland security. it gives me optimism and it should give optimism to americans that the federal government is continuing to reform and improve in its ability to support communities and states in dealing with emergencies and disasters of all kinds. but to be fair, however, even with this great leadership team, the federal government is but one part of america's preparedness equation. federal readiness should not imply national readiness. other parts local and state
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government, nonprofits, the private sector and american citizens have equally compelling and important roles in all aspects of a community's. in all aspects of communities not just government agency we need to make sure that the entire community is ready for the hurricane season. our recent work with the private sector relative to the flu outbreak provides anecdotal evidence to suggest that private sector preparedness efforts remain inconsistent in not coordinated with the government officials in communities where these businesses operate. even with the heightened attention to nationwide pandemic planning over the past four years there's been surprise at the number of businesses large and small who have done nothing at the assumption that their local and state and federal governments will do everything when a crisis like a hurricane or a pandemic appears at the front door. but yet at the same time, we've seen innovative hurricane preparedness efforts along the gulf coast and the atlantic coast in the local and state governments and in the private sector in states like florida
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but, unfortunately, these are not replicated across all states vulnerable too hurricane strike. in light of both we are left to conclude that on the whole community preparedness with the right mix of private and public collaboration and mutual dependence is lacking. this will create unrealistic expectations and requirements for government and especially for the federal government. this committee knows that with preparedness efforts leaders make the difference. crisis preparedness is essential to the physical and economic survival. in light of today's severe cash strapped communities states and business there is very little margin for error in terms of the efficiencies applied to how we respond to and recover from disasters. the ready community partnership has seen the value of businesses large and small designating a corporate crisis response officer to work hand-in-hand with government in the preparation for and response and recovery to a crisis. these predesignated contact points along with preevent
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collaboration enhance the resiliency of a community in a crisis because when something bad happens the right public and private officials are talking at the right time about the right issues. thank you for the opportunity to appear today and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much. >> it's an honor to testify before you on behalf of the american red cross. we appreciate this opportunity to share with you some of the details in our ability to respond to the challenges that may face the american people during the coming months. before i begin my testimony, i would like to take this opportunity to thank our new fema administrator fugate for his work in florida and to express the appreciation of the red cross for his support to our disaster preparedness and response efforts in that state. for more than 125 years, the red cross has provided relief to the victims of disasters, helped families and individuals prevent, prepare for and respond
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to emergencies. from single family house fires to large scale disasters like hurricanes, the red cross works to provide essential lifesaving and sustaining services to those in need. we shelter, we feed, we provide critical supplies and emotional support to those impacted by disasters and communities across our country. our work relies on generous contributions from the public including donations of time, money and blood. today i report on your preenings for the upcoming hurricane season. our organization on a local and operational level operates on a constant cycle of disasters and preparing for the future. red cross regularly participates in an ability to build capacity, partner and plan and exercise and evaluate our capabilities. spring is a critical time of year for us because typically we're responding to tornadoes and floods in one part of the
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country while at the same time preparing for potential demands of the upcoming hurricane season. to meet expected needs material resources have been prepositioned in 23 warehouses that we have across the country for easy access and mobilization. we have completed a detailed assessment of our communications equipment inventory and have verified the readiness of our nationwide disaster fleet. the national shelter system is ready. it now contains shelter locations and capacity information for over 55,000 buildings that could be potentially used as shelters across this country. the national shelter system is used for both planning and operational decisions. it records all shelter openings and closings and overnight populations on a daily basis. we have made the national shelter system֖ available to fa in twelve of the states free of charge. ..


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