tv Washington This Week CSPAN August 28, 2011 6:00am-7:00am EDT
[applause] these people would keep you here another hour. it is terrific. you are a national asset and we're delighted to have you inside the beltway, although you may not be glad by that. >> eventually. >> if may be about 1995. we are honored to have you talk to us today. it was a wonderful presentation. very clear why you are where you are. you bring a wealth of experience and talent. >> thank you.
>> coming up next, a senate hearing on disaster prepared this. live at 7:00 a.m., your calls and comments on washington journal." >> later today, fema will give an update on hurricane irene and the federal response to the storm. homeland security secretary janet napolitano will brief, along with fema administrator craig fugate and the director of the national hurricane center. later today.
>> now a eighth senate commerce committee hearing on protect emergency preparedness. it focuses on improvements. senators look at how congress can better is serve the needs of u.s. government agencies to help protect american lives. this part of the hearing is just under an hour. >> i am going to put my opening statement in the record, which pains me greatly. we have a vote, and the whole
idea of doing statements and then going to you and then going to vote and then coming back does not make much sense. what makes sense is to have all of you say what you're going to say. and then we will probably be at the end of that time, go to vote, and question you when you -- when we come back. if you can put up with that situation. dr. william hook, we welcome you, bob ryan, senior meteorologist, abc, "washington journal l.a., covering 5 west virginian counties. and you do warn us. the professor of the department of civil and environmental engineering at stanford university. and a professor of
computational engineering at the university of texas at austin. you all are extraordinary in what you know. without getting into a, let's get into you. dr. hooks, let's start with you. give your testimony. >> thank you, mr. chairman. today we grieve for those who suffer loss because of violent weather in recent weeks. we can best honor that by working together to reduce the risks of further tragedy in late coming years. thank you for convening this conversation on this topic and thank you for letting us take part. because of its size and location of the united states bears a unique degree of risk from natural hazards. we suffer from as many winter storms as russia or china, we have as many hurricanes as china
or japan, and our coasts are exposed not just to the storms but also earthquakes and tsunami is, does polls, wild fires, and as we know too well, 70% of the worlds of tornadoes and some 90% of the truly damaging ones occur on our soil. also because of our global reach, disasters a world away call for a u.s. response. if you think of the earthquakes in haiti and chile, the tsunami in japan, the floods in pakistan, people are waiting to see what will united states would do. we remain improving but remain far from ideal. in that last mile, with a struggle to reach those who were actually in harm's way, if they are all too often lost or garbled or misunderstood. compromises in land use and building codes mean that our homes are not always as safe as we might go.
85% of the small businesses that closed their doors because of disaster never reopened. and the dollar lost from property loss and business disruption is growing faster than gdp, and virtually every disaster quickly becomes a public health emergency. we can do better if we take the following steps. number one, we must maintain our essential warning system. that means funding for the day- to-day operations of those systems but also for modernization and funding continuity from year to year. these are programs that cannot be shut down for a year and then restarted. the biggest gap right now is the satellite system which needs an additional $800 million this fiscal year in order to avoid an unacceptable cap and satellite coverage beginning no later than 2017. that apple throwback our warning
capability to what we had 20 years ago. it is not just enough to bring meteorology and engineering to the problem. we also have to bring social science, pushing out warning the last mile, to hear from those who study communications in a disciplined way. we need to hear from sociologists. another example -- that title of this hearing as the question, our investments paying off? the answer is, we think so, but we do not know how much. if they were really investments, we will have a much better idea of the return on those investments. that requires that we invest in economic analysis that we are not doing. when it comes to natural disasters, we should also do better at learning from experience. we do this and aviation. when the wing falls off the airplane, we get around the wreckage site until we see what happened and then we go and fix it.
we lack an agency like that to perform that function for natural hazards, and the result is that we rebuild as before. because we do that, we condemn future generations to a great deal of unnecessary pain and suffering. all this requires that the government and private-sector work in partnership. the work collaborative fleet and effectively at all levels. the aerospace firms that bill those satellite services and ground system, the weather broadcasting system, that is going quite well. at the local level, the private sector and local governments need to work together to prepare communities. the academy issued a report on that subject which is in your notes. we need to bring in the insurance industry to provide better incentives for land cuts. we need to support wonderful private sector efforts like the business except leadership council of the chamber of
commerce and their work in hazard mitigation and disaster relief. as we are blowing up levees in the midwest, we need to explore no adverse impact policies for flood and other hazards. we also need to track our progress and keep score. i have three concluding points and then i emden prefers, the department of commerce is the suitable agency home for many of these notions. second, we should not look at this just domestically. these measures can build international goodwill and international markets for u.s. products and services. and finally, we should not forget the impact of these measures on jobs. protecting jobs that americans already hold, protecting their communities and their homes in the face of natural hazards, and creating new jobs to serve those burgeoning international markets. thank you.
>> thank you, usually this is done for me. thank you for the opportunity present on the topic of federal investments and disaster preparedness. i'm speaking only for myself and not my employer. i served as president of the american meteorologist society. a distinct pleasure, as well as on two national committees which reports. the fair weather report, which is advancing the entire enterprise, a look well as a recent report that completes the forecast, characterizing better decisionmaking in forecasting. shortly after, -- the short answer is most definitely yes. this is paying off. and as we have so recently
seemed, the united states has more severe weather and more weather-related disasters than any other country. as an example, 90% of the strong and life-threatening tornadoes in the world occur in the united states during the science of meteorology has made remarkable advances in the last three years. thanks in large part due to the federal investment in knowing that better forecasts and advance warnings before weather emergencies all are of tremendous public and economic benefit to all of us. indeed, i would argue that if we all agree that one of the fundamental purposes of government is protection of the life and property of its citizens, few organizations do that each and every day more than our nation's whether services, both public and private sector companies, and local broadcasters. many may ask, after all the investment that we have made in advance in the science of
weather forecasting, satellites, a popular radars, supercomputers, how could so many lives be lost in a terrible tornado outbreak? more than 90% of last week's tornadoes were warned on with an average lead time of 25 minutes. something impossible years ago. but more than -- we had more e.f. for tornadoes and two go forward 5 -- ef-5 tornadoes. without structures, it is impossible to survive torn edges of more than two under and 60 m.p.h.. if we had had the same outbreak 50 years ago, before doppler and all of the investment, the loss of life would have been in the thousands from that of entered the current web -- forecasting
communications system is a shared enterprise. sometimes the entire mix, federal, public, private, non- governmental organization, emergency management, the community, and the media, calling it the weather enterprise, there are such early warnings and communications of a lurch to the public through every means, from noaa whether radioed to digital new media and news broadcasts, which were on the air continuously tracking tornadic as with both national weather service and local stations, that allowed so many people as possible to survive what is probably once in a hundred years national disaster. the system work. and they share partners of the federal employees of the national weather service, a local government officials, and emergency managers and the broadcast community and local broadcasting meteorologist help more than 99% of our fellow
citizens in the path of killer tornadoes survive, which everyone hopes is a once-in-a- lifetime experience. today's forecasts aren't and to and processed that are ever more accurate and climate for case, the communication of forecast of the reformation to the public, and finally the decision making using that information by the public. if we had a one under% accurate weather forecasts, which may not be effectively communicated, and then result in a bad decision, we have failed. the one under present signed correct forecast is of little use if they're wrong climate decision is made very effective a convocation is as essential in the case of weather emergencies. we play a vital role in communication of forecasting. my fellow broadcasters in
mississippi, georgia, texas, alabama, and the last few weeks we were on the air continuously to keep the community informed. we help the community to make the best life saving decisions. however the last bop of arc and to end weather forecast is the decision by the public and user. that is what i do. the local broadcasters, known in a community, they serve and are still using additional methods of communicating by over the air, radio broadcasts, during a local broadcast, and continuously during weather disasters, that trust as source for the public to make the decision. just to wrap up my colleague and alabama during this terrible outbreak was on the air using all of the assets at his command from the public radar to
spotters and over the air continuously, and he has received hundreds of thank yous for those efforts in pinpointing the terrible outbreak of tornadoes, helping people make the proper decision that saved their lives. that is where we are all heading toward the system is working the way that we communicate. the federal investment in our enterprises liable for it efforts to stop funding the seller light system would degrade our ability to accurately forecast and one of the next weather disaster. certainly we need social expertise into our enterprise and learn how to better use these expertise in every new and old media -- to better communicate what we know on what action should be taken and better help the public bakelite decision.
-- make the best decision. with continuing federal support for the core of the enterprise, what we have accomplished together in the advance of the service of the science i love to the public, the country, and the world will continue and will continue to be a shining example of how government meets its key role of the protection of the lives and property of its citizens. thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chair. members of the committee, this is an honor for me because -- to be here. i have been a professor at stanford for 38 years specialize in an engineering. most of my research has been through earthquake hazards and risk analysis and development of wireless monitoring systems. my comments will be focused on
earthquakes, but they can be applied to the other hazards. the question that you put in front of us is whether our investments in earthquake hazards and other natural disasters are worth it, have been paying off. the short answer, like mr. ryan said, is yes. the public is a lot safer today because of the program. we have made great strides in understanding the behavior of our buildings and other infrastructures was subjected to severe earthquakes. how people and economies are affected by earthquakes. and how we can mitigate an upgrade our structures to prevent and minimize future disasters. however we are not there yet. not even close. the reason being that with every
earthquake, we see and learn how much we do not know. to continue -- we continue to be humbled by every single earthquake event and we find something new and different that we did not know before. the last earthquake in japan, march 11 of this year, has indeed shown us what a truly devastating event can do to a very large community. our laboratory tests are sophisticated numerical models and could not replicate and produce and teach us what such a large earthquake can do. what we can do is prepare to take measurements and study these events which enable us to greatly improve and enhance our models in order to apply them in a systematic way and enable us
to prevent future losses. new york has also played an important role in mitigation activities. i happen to be involved in a study in 2005 where we let that -- we look at the effective mitigation and how each dollar we spend is paying off. it was -- there were several conclusions but the key important one was that for every dollar spent in mitigation, we are setting for dollars in future losses. -- we are saving $4 in future losses. if seen major reductions in many places, and outright elimination of mitigation programs. the results will be devastating.
if we reduce our mitigation budget, we are not benefiting from a current advances and we're putting our communities a greater risk. moreover, we need to invest funds specifically to study the march earthquake. this is the first time that the magnitude 9 earthquake has hit a country that has a building an infrastructure that is very similar to ours, that has design practices very similar to ours, that has eight general social and economic environment similar to ours, and will receive for the first time and have evidence of the measurements from the largest cinema -- tsunami that we have ever seen. waves were as high as 100 feet. the lessons to be learned are
enormous and unprecedented. after the 1995 earthquake, japan invested more than $1 billion in all kinds of instrumentation. the data has been gathered, waiting to be analyzed. it is our duty to protest a paid in these activities. we are fortunate to have alliances with our japanese colleagues. this gives us an opportunity to really study and test and improve our models, are mitigation practices, and understand what we need to do to prevent future disasters. you might ask after spending all this money over the years, what are our structures in our community still at high risk? there are least two answers and
i will bring the two most important answers lie. the first is, are infrastructures -- our infrastructure, 80%, was built prior to current design practices. moreover, we allowed our infrastructure to greatly deteriorated, making the problem even worse. the second problem is that earthquake engineering and earthquake-related science is relatively young. we have been working on this problem for the last 30 years, ended every earthquake we have learned more and more. in order for us to start addressing some of the questions, we need to continue in a systematic manner. let me give you one example. after the 1994 northeast earthquake, we observed that particularly businesses required to facilities to continue functioning in a matter for the business would not be
interrupted. our design practices up until then had been to design for life safety and to not worry about how much damage there was to the structure, as long as it did not collapse and kill people. and we've done very well in that respect. what we understand now is that in order to have economic viability, we need to have business continuation and there critical infrastructure needs the funds and immediately after an earthquake. we have been at the center of design and development of mitigation activities. i see that i am out of time. i would just conclude by saying something that we have said over and over again. we cannot prevent earthquakes from happening. however, what we can do through our research and mitigation activities is greatly reduce the consequences from such events and prevent them from becoming a disaster.
thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> a: senator hutchison. >> i wanted to introduce the witness that i invited. dr. dahlson is a professor for the institute's for computational engineering and science is at my all matta, the university of texas at austin. in that i might say, we are also alma mater of the cabinet will rely the assault against osama bin laden. >> thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. my research efforts are focused primarily on modeling the simulation of processes and the coastal ocean. the primary sources of federal funding for this work of the national science foundation and
the department of defense and the department of homeland security. by a group collaborate with a number of researchers at other universities, government laboratories, and state agencies. we utilize the sound -- science foundation. we a partnerships with a national motion that region -- we have partnerships with noaa. with storm surges, they predicted simulation i refer to the development of a computer models which can be used in real time to forecast forms sturgises -- storm surges. we to produce actual measurements taken during the storm and study future scenarios for regions which i will discuss below. the computer model that we have developed his advanced circulation model.
it takes in put and computes water levels driven by hurricane-force winds and waves. it has been used to study hurricane's for over a decade. it was used in forensic studies during katrina. as i mentioned, predictive stimulation of storm surge can fall into three categories, forecast, and future some areas. in forecast mode, we use different computers to generate a high resolution forecast typically within an hour prefers, purchasing texas or louisiana -- typically within an hour. here we attempt to match the output with measured data as was
done for hurricane katrina. they help validate the predicted its capabilities of the model, understand the complex physical process, help coastal surges, and can be used to understand the successes of those are various protection systems. hurricanes ike is an interesting situation. it produced what we call a storm surge forerunner of about 6 feet along the upper texas coast 24 hours before landfall. a similar phenomenon documented during the galveston hurricane of 1900 and 1915. ike was very similar in track and intensity to these hurricanes. we were able to produce the surge in the model. now that it is discovered, future forecasts of similar storms can predict a surge and alert the public to a possible danger. finally this is run under a
hypothetical scenarios to facilitate the planning and design of future protection systems and help quantify risk to low-lying areas. this includes soft option such as well and restoration's and restriction on land-use practices and hard options like the construction of sea walls and storm gates. our federal investment are paying off. government funding can reap tremendous benefit, by promoting healthy and sustainable environment, and improving the safety and well- being of coastal populations. there are several future research directions which are critical to a dancing the science and government funding of the computational infrastructure available and basic research funding have paid a path toward revolutionizing the modeling of storm surges and
we are reaping the benefits in this area. we're able to do higher resolution predictions with a time frame required by emergency managers. this would have been impossible five years ago. but in my experience, federal funding for coastal modeling is in piecemeal across different agencies and focus more on the short term. what welcome any effort to promote longer-term, sustained funding in this area. with respect to storm surge forecasting, it is my opinion that future models should be performed at the highest fidelity possible, given the uncertainty inherent in any forecasts. done's more work to be with the wind and waves and their interaction with coastal structures. the ability of man made systems to withstand and mitigate this is not understood, nor is the long tom -- the long term impact on in our minds and
infrastructure. >> we will start on the questions. it is such a profound subject. one of the things that interests me most is how little people know about it. actually, how little people think about it. dr. hook, you made an interesting observation in your testimony. 85% of businesses that are affected by a disaster, they close their doors and do not reopen. a lot of things come to mind.
americans tend to think of earthquakes, like japan kick that of, obviously, but we think about the absolute calamities. the research being done on that is incredibly important. but i am thinking about 85%, that would not be an earthquake. that would be some kind of other flooding or whatever event. at is,m trying to get how can you prepare? or do we have to say that you cannot prepare? i heard on the news in iowa they just blasted down of whole bunch of levees which they had put up for the purposes of defending against flooding. >> missouri. >> hundreds of thousands of
acres were getting flooded. that is what i am talking about. we cope as best as we can, we see images of people saw -- piling up sandbags. the question that you mentioned about the structure of buildings. that's something like 3000 earthquakes a day in japan, obviously very small. we have nothing like that. in my own state, we have so many floods i cannot count them. houses get washed away up and down various rivers. people do not leave. they might leave temporarily but they come back and rebuild. what is the psychology, how can we defend against these things
which even if we can predict them, even if we can predict them, what use is that unless we update their fact -- abate there is that? i from a bunch of things that you. >> you sure have. i went into science because baseball is not my strength. thank you for those insights. i think you're absolutely correct. here is the starting point -- we have some very humble objectives. we want to live a little better, we would like a nice quality of life, we aspire to a good life for our kids, but we are trying to do this on a plan that that does its business through extreme events. when she talks about earthquakes, go to your science class and learn about continental drift. you'd find that in some parts of the world that hurricanes are provided by that third of the
total yearly rainfall. so the severe events make up what is really the planet average. and yet what we do is we see these events as somehow suspensions of the natural order. but their 100th straight days where the sun is shining, a little bit of rain, and then all the sudden the heavens opened. so we're not good at rare consequence events. the 85% of the small businesses that do not reopen, they have a variety of causes prepare met -- their business may be ok, on dry land, the business may have survived, but their whole customer base disappears. so you have a restaurant that specializes in asian cuisine, but now everyone is spending their money at home depot. all the customers could still be there, they could be home, but your business was in the flood
plain. down by the river, and so it is fairly complex. another example, if you think about the homes we build coming you can look it mobile homes or manufactured homes, they are especially vulnerable. but they are the only way for homeownership for large fractions of people. for 100 years in the life of a building, the jobless bill wallace to keep the roof up. for maybe a day at about 100 years, it is to hold the roof down. and we do not put in the hurricane straps are whatever if it -- or what ever we need. it is a long, complicated question. >> i also ran out of time. senator hutchison. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have introduced in the last two sessions weather
modification legislation, not to do it, but to start doing research, to determine if there is a benefit to trying to modify the ferocity of tornadoes and hurricanes, if it can be done. and if it is the end, doesn't affect other areas? -- and it is done, does it get effect other areas? do you think that this is an area we should pursue? can that be done computational degree of accuracy? and how would you pursue trying to determine a way to mitigate the enormous damage we see now?
it seems to me that it is so much different from the past. i grew up in galveston county, so i've seen hurricanes, but we never had the kind of katrina, the alabama tornadoes, the damage just seems to be so much more and the ferocity seems to be so much more in the last 10 years than it was in the previous eras. with that, would research cut? could it be done with computers? and where would you go from here? >> i would begin by discussing what bob ryan brought into the conversation. in his graduate work, he worked for one of the leading licensees and weather modification. >> he had discovered the use of
silver iodide. but for him, in schaefer had done the first weather modification experiments at schenectady. >> grade. >> one of the things to address that is that i think all research meteorologist would agree that the more we can understand what is going on and the more we understand the process that initiates, let's say, hurricanes, and how these go through life cycles and tornadoes, the better understanding we can have of the fundamental science, i would daresay that before we can really have an intimate and detailed understanding of the life cycle of some of these, even very small scale, but extreme events, then we're not in a position to say let's try to do something to mitigate. we have to do everything first that we can do to create an environment where people take
action, and it is interesting, the conversion of the structure for earthquakes and as bill manchin, for tornadoes. 44% of the fatalities in tonette is occur with people who live in mobile homes. there is that issue -- how can we ensure that the structures that people are living in, and certainly giving the economic times, able -- and we have communities where these people can sink secure shelter for whatever natural disaster comes, whether it be an earthquake or a tornado or a flood. but the basic science has made tremendous advantages. there are still many unanswered questions. i think the more we can understand the evolution and the life cycle and the details of what is going on, then at some point in the future, we may be in a position to begin to take and try to interfere a little bit, and at least mitigate the
maximum impact on population centers. >> if i could say a word about your second point. having to do with the growing severity, apparently, of events of this sort. we are ratcheting up slowly, day-by-day, our vulnerability to events all over this country, whether it is hurricanes on the gulf coast or tornadoes in between. what is happening is that no one wakes up in the morning saying, i think i will increase the vulnerability of my city or might county are my state to these events. but what happens, we make decisions in favor of business development, needs for today, and we make a compromise at the 0.1% level, and we say that was a pretty good day. but the accumulated burden of all this like compromises, not
people looking the wrong way or anything of that sort, it adds up over the timescale for the return of these events to a tremendous vulnerability, levy's not build well in new orleans, or as she was saying, infrastructure that was 30 years old or 70 years old. it is that kind effect. >> i would add one thing. with respect to hurricanes, people focus on the intensity of the hurricane. but in the last few hurricanes that have been the most destructive, such as the train and ike, there were not in tense when they made landfall. we need to understand that the storm surge associated with a hurricane may have nothing to do with the intensity of the earthquake and more to do with the size of the storm and how long it has been churning and the radius of the storm. with respect to hurricanes, i
want to caution people to step back a second and realize that it is not just the intensity of the storm that matters, but the size of the storm and other factors that contribute to the actual flood. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i just returned from the grand forks area. we share a border with north dakota and barely missed visiting the mayor of oslo, north dakota. their entire town, they had a dike and that is the only way that they survived the flood. i appreciate the difference that weather forecasts have made. st. paul, minn. -- decisions were made because we had so much flooding, how high the sandbags have to be, completely based on
these forecasts. and they're completely dependent on them and made a huge difference in reducing damage and the loss of life. i must applaud what the weather bureau is doing. a tornado with the bleachers were found two blocks away. not one person died there. this is all neighborhoods for the got the warnings, the sirens went off 25 minutes at a time. a couple with 40 kids with only life scart -- high-school lifeguards. the high school kids to across the street to a basement. this is because of emergency warning. basements made the difference. in some unique things that we're doing with let's now, literally
there are cameras on the flooded areas and towns all over our state so that citizens can watch the river so they do not make stupid decisions. they can see where the river is and they're watching it at certain points on the web live. that is a raven small towns during this period -- these are even small towns doing this. citizens get full reports on radio and tv. my first question to you, mr. ryan, from your perspective of a private partner in disaster preparedness, where do we excel and word we falls short in communicating severe weather to the community? >> thank you. for those of us who have been in the field of meteorology for a bid, it is satisfying to see the advances in the science and the application.
and they're real utility in life-saving events in having it be not only a benefit to the public but the economy. as you point out, we are using modern technology, things like a live web cams, to help people make the best decision, and i think that is the area that is probably most exciting, going forward. when we talk about the storm surge, earthquakes, or tornado outbreaks like last week. we are really thinking to fill a small area, even though it impacts hundreds of thousands of people. but also, rare events, and how can we best communicate these perhaps once-in-a-lifetime events the net -- the people have never experienced before, correctly so that they make the best decision. we saw that in katrina appeared there was a tragic example of a family that had a storm cellar in alabama and invited their neighbors into the storm cellar.
the neighbors said they would ride it out. they did not. the family in the storm cellar survive. a once in a lifetime event. we have a job involving the social sciences and expertise in how people make decisions and how we can best communicate some of these rare events using some of the new communication technology and the broadcast to help people make the best decisions. ultimately as i mentioned we can have 100% accurate forecast and a bad decision means the forecast failed. >> you talked about the investment in stating that s. times. minnesota has bad floods. they employed flood mitigation, got a grant, moved hundreds of houses. one guy decided to stay. his house flooded when those iowa floods came. it may be difficult to make these decisions, but it saves
some much money in the long term. could you talk about the mitigation issue? >> i also think that she talked quite a bit about this as well. >> she can answer. >> what we talk about the earthquake issue. it is quite related to the weather and flooding issue. >> mitigation has been taking place systematically, but this is a very expensive topic. and stanford university, we have been upgrading our buildings for more than 20 years at a cost of $200 million a year. mitigation strategies, no specific mitigation policies for earthquakes in place for there was one policy that was in place in san francisco and los angeles. they identified all reinforced masonry structures. there were provisions made to
upgrade and richer for it those structures. -- retrofit those structures. to upgrade the remaining structures and the infrastructure -- >> i am talking about houses in the midwest just move. i am sorry. [unintelligible] >> when you rebuild. >> $100,000 homes that are put on the back of a truck. it is a lot cheaper. it is especially to actually flood instead of losing all of these homes. [unintelligible] >> in both cases, it is a matter of culture and values. if we want a big house and we
want a showcase, and we like some of the jazzy features, we go for that. maybe we are thinking about the safety of the kids and maybe we are putting our kids to bed in a flood plain at night, call yourself a parent and doing things like that? not so good. but we can change that culture. one way to do it, and i was incurred on this by my staff, i did not follow it to my regret now, we talk about stem education and earth sciences for public school. they are a quail or a -- a great way into each household. >> thank you. >> the children in the students take some important messages to their parents. we've had a number of examples, where the young people had the proper decision for their family and ended up saving lives. education is certainly
important. >> thank you so much. thank you for holding this hearing. i am proud that you join with me and senator cantwell to sponsor the national hazards reduction risk act, a very important program to deal with national earthquake hazard reduction and windstorm impact reduction. all but the rest of my statement in the record, if i might. i came to the house of representatives in 1983 and since that time, california has experienced a 31 significant earthquakes. significant earthquakes. out of those, nine at deaths associated with them. one was in northern california and in southern california. 122 deaths. when we talk about hazards,
we're clearly talking about saving lives. we lost 342 people in the south, with people still missing. no part of this nation is immune from devastation of one kind or the other. but i am going to focus in on earthquakes with a good doctor from stanford. earthquake early warning systems, this is something that i am hoping in my lifetime i conceive. i know we are testing and evaluating their right now, do you know how soon we can expect those to be deployed on a larger scale? >> the technology is being worked on right now. we have to remember that earthquake warning will help primarily save lives. they will not help with preventing damage to infrastructure.
in that respect, they are really important. how far along we are? i think we are getting closer every day give me an idea of what we're looking at, years or months or at a decade? what do you say? >> my estimate, from what i now, i would say as much as 10 years. >> let me ask you this question. we have a two nuclear power plants in our state located on or adjacent to all wines that are very dangerous. -- fault lines that are dangerous. after looking up at the japanese earthquake, these plants are up for review. i am looking at this, one of my plans has 7 million people living within 50 miles, the area that was evacuated in japan.
the other has half a million people. i do have concerns about these plants. >> i would say that they have been evaluated and reevaluated and reevaluated. they are such complicated systems. there is always some chance of something going wrong. it can be due to the earthquake but also due to human error. how do we prevent this? we have to be vigilant, we have to study the system continuously. my understanding is that, and one of my first jobs was in the diabolo nuclear power plants. we did look at the type of options that we might expect. we have learned a lot more.
based on my understanding, i have tested it in all these years, but those plants are being re-evaluated every two or three years. from the earthquake safety point of view, i think the structures, the containment structures have been designed very appropriately. i do not expect to see any damage. what worries me is other things. >> if you're right. they were designed to withstand a certain earthquake. but they were not designed to protect against larger earthquakes which are now predicted. could we follow-up on this? >> absolutely. >> when you say they have been evaluated, they have not done the 3d a valuation that needs to be done. they're planning to do that when the state said we would not allow to issue the license. can we follow up on this?
when we talk about this, we are talking about millions of people, and that is my concern. if the building is still standing there, what happens to the radiation. >> i was about to say that, the building will stand. what happens to all the systems? the cooling system, the backup generators. one of the reasons why the japanese power plants suffer that damage is because the backup generators were damaged. we need to look at the entire system and all of its components and how they work together. that valuation, i believe, needs to be done again in a much more detail. >> and also the tsunami threat. thank you so much. i let for state getting legislation moving prefer every
dollar we spend, we save $3. >> $4. >> while. $3 after the $1. >> we have to have a highly symbolic and important vote. if you are willing to wait, we will come back. ok? >> is a deal. >> this meeting is temporarily adjourned. no, recessed. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011]