tv [untitled] CSPAN June 5, 2009 7:00am-7:30am EDT
72 hours after a disaster strikes getting critical resources there in support of the governors. this process of building the team and enhancing what you have given us the thoolz there's tremendous capability that has been built and the legal construct that often your work the committee's work and the legislations passed has addressed in now it's our responsibility to make sure we can implement that fully. having her serving in that role and helping to transition as i came on board and again a very strong regional administrator as part of the fema family as you pointed out she brought a lot of commonsense approach and got a good team to address the challenges that we faced in the recovery and that is a continual commitment that we have. as i serve in this capacity coming from a state director and
working with senator -- with secretary napolitano who was once a governor and the challenges we face in helping our citizen and see we continue to work towards that. we're working with our state partners to give them more ownership of this process. we know as you point out temporary housing. how do we house people after a disaster? it's not a solution with the states and as we work with ideas and concepts and work our states what other ideas do you come up with. how can we capture what resources are there? what's the best way to address that. we know that there's no one solution that fits every scenario and we want to make sure we are working with the states to build those housing task forces so that, unfortunately, these may occur in the future we have more options as we go forward. it's again a multidisciplined,
multiteam approach. we need to have that operation and all buy-in. as i said working together sometimes we look at our planning process and we're so government centric we forget -- as you have some of the volunteer agencies that are remitted plus our partners with the american red cross and the people who promote the united way with 211 and brokering those resources it's critical we bring about that team approach and that we work as not just representing government but what the private sector does. i mean, to me it's always the challenge, does it make sense to be distributing supplies when we have an open grocery store but we have other areas of the community that are not serve and we are going to build a government centric and we don't work but we have to build a team that will serve and support all our citizens but most importantly making sure our citizens have a role to be as prepared as they can so that when disaster strikes, we can focus on the most vulnerable
citizens 'cause we've done our part to get a plan to be ready and finally the last thing as my time runs out if we could ask folks that all this work that your committee is doing we can do a lot more when people do one more thing when disaster strikes. if you're okay, check on a neighbor. we can do a lot more working together than doing it from a government centric approach. >> spoken like a true local fema operator. thank you for sticking to the 5 minutes but i want to be very liberal with you in your time because i do think that you have a great message to bring to the nation. major? >> chairman landrieu, senator burris, thank you for the opportunity today to present comments over the defense's support of civil liberties that we do at north com. i would like to take a moment commander dan baxter.
he definitely understands the hurricane season, ma'am. >> it's very nice to meet you. >> we at northern command are privilege to be a member of the whole u.s. government approach to disaster response. including active guard and reserve alongside our federal, state, tribal and local partners. we started our planning this year well in advance of the past. we stand ready to assist the primary federal agencies in responding quickly to manmade and natural disasters when directed by the president or the secretary of defense. when requested and approved by appropriate federal officials in accordance with the national response framework, we support civil authorities by providing specialized skills and assets to save lives, reduce suffering and restore infrastructure in the wake of catastrophic events in the homeland. last year during one of the most destructive hurricane seasons on
record, we supported the department of homeland security and the federal emergency management agency in responding to three major hurricanes, gustav, hannah and ike all within a 13-day period. we continued to take significant steps in our response capabilities. first of all, we've incorporated the joint staff standing execution order to streamline defense support to civil authorities within operational planning for the 2009 hurricane season. this joint staff execution order provides u.s. northern command commander the authority to establish operational staging areas, federal mobilization centers, national logistic support areas and department of defense base support installations to support fema. in addition our ten full-time defense coordinators and their staffs coordinate and plan continually with the fema regions. in collaboration with the
department of defense and department of homeland security we have developed prescripted mission for assignments for fema. we have 24 of those approved currently. it provides a menu of response capabilities with a cost to fema so they can quickly respond and request those mission assignments. based on anticipated requirements of medical evacuation, damage assessment and commodity distribution to mention just a few. and finally in 2009, february, we cohosted the first national guard and northern command planning conference in february in south carolina. it brought together generals from the eastern and gulf coast states along with the chief of the national guard bureau and my boss, and to the opportunity to look at gaps and also work with fema and other interagencies and provide a list of shortfalls that we anticipate based on current deployments for the 2009 hurricane season.
additional planning for the 2009 hurricane season included discussions with u.s. transportation command on medical evacuation, general population evacuation. discussions with the department of homeland security and also fema. health and human services and our service component commands. all of these are planning conferences and tabletop exercises we've conducted in preparations for this season. if and when called, northern command continues to stand ready to provide robust support to civil authorities during the 2009 hurricane season. thank you for the opportunity to present today and i stand ready to answer your questions. >> thank you, general. we very much appreciate it. senator burris? >> thank you very much, madam chairman. and to our distinguished panel it's certainly a good opportunity to listen and learn what we're preparing for.
and mr. fugate, we know that we had a bad -- it wasn't quite a tornado. so we hear a lot about hurricanes but inland a hurricane is a tornado and that's what we get in illinois. and my home as a matter of fact is in tornado alley down in southern illinois. and we just had a big storm to come through a few weeks ago and it wasn't quite at the tornado level. they call it a durado but it's high winds that reaches at 75 miles per hour, is that correct mr. fugate? is that what they call it a durado? >> that's one term. you also may hear a microburst. my experience has been if you lose your roof it's kind of academic. >> it's a hell of a storm, right. [laughter] >> well, and we had a quite a bit of damage. and, of course, our governor has asked for some assistance and i'm just hoping that assistance
would be forthcoming because, unfortunately, in southern illinois there's a lot of poverty and there's just not that much resources so i hope we can get some assistance on that. are you familiar with that request that has been put in for southern illinois yet? >> i've not. i'll research it. it could be at the regional level. >> it's been six weeks. >> i've been on the job for about two weeks and three days. if i haven't seen it, i'll find out where it is, sir. >> check it out for us. general, i was down in my national guard facility down in lincoln the other day. and we were talking about a coordination of the disasters of what our national guard does. we also have another issue called flooding off of that mississippi river. that ends up new orleans. but it comes down from illinois roaring like a mack truck doing 90 going like 55 and it leaves
in its wake a lot of flooding and i was just wondering how does norcom coordinate with the national guard in terms of the disaster coordination? does it can through the national guard first? who is really in charge there? >> to answer your question, our coordination is with the national guard bureau but the first response will always be with the national guard supporting the state and local officials, we, though, immediately upon indications that there's a disaster pending will continue -- will begin to coordinate with the national guard in case there are gaps in their capability to respond. and i talked with the national guard operations daily and looking across the country, looking at where they have forces deployed so we're prepared to respond if they have gaps. we recently responded to the flood in the red river of the north in north dakota working with the national guard in north
dakota and minnesota and we provided some of active duty forces to back them up at the request of the federal emergency agency and we prepositioned -- >> pardon me, so you say your request can come from fema to you. now, does that have to originate at the state level? >> senator, the process by which we would activate northcom would be at the request of the state and we would not have assets either within your national guard. we would mission task the folks at norcom to derive that assistance. this goes back to some of the issues that madam chairman had raised about previously. a lot of times these would be requests that we had not planned ahead of time. what we've done is after katrina and then after the hurricanes last year, we have developed what we call a prescripted mission which is essentially --
we put together the types of things we would be asking for northcom trained those resources and has that ready to go rather than trying to describe our call up pieces to do something we could activate a mission package that norcom can go through our mission if it exceeds the capability of that national guard, we've oftentimes have built these packages for the threats we know about so that whether it was to do a flood fight, whether it was to support mass care, whether it was to support commodity distribution or bring in specific equipment, these are the types of things that we have written out. i believe there's over 2 some 30 missions -- 260 some of those missions we've written out and that's in addition to the capability northcom could do. one of the things we tried to do in our after-action report is
capture anything that was different that we either needed to adjust that mission or we needed to create a mission support for and so that's a constantly evolving process each time we go through a disaster. >> you know, gentlemen, i have been a civilian until just coming back in the government. what i'm certainly saying is that as a now public official it's good i know these things and hopefully can get a message out, you know, to the people that, you know, we are really prepared to assist in these situations. which lead me, mr. fugate, to another question. are you familiar with what the university of illinois has with this super computer that they are simulating the tornadoes and hurricanes and some simulating disasters on these computer models? i was down at the university of
illinois which has the fastest computer, madam chairman, in the whole country and what they showed me a demonstration of is a simulated tornado and they can then study this and then actually prepare it based on the atmospheric conditions that have actually taken place in the development of the various winds and velocities and all the other elements that are going to make up a tornado as well as simulating floods and a disaster even in the city of chicago. they have this computer design that say there's a disaster in chicago. where's evacuation routes? do you know of any other facility where this is being studied computer wise or are these assimilations are taken place? >> senator, i know there's a lot of difficult products out there. i do not know directly about this but i will ask my staff to get with your staff so i can get briefed. >> i would like to let you know
what the university of illinois is coming up with in terms of the simulations and the preparations for it. >> thank you, senator. i'm actually aware of a center like that in louisiana. i don't know if our computer is as fast as but we'll see. a battle of computers between illinois and louisiana but i am very impressive with what several of our universities have done on the heels of katrina and rita and using technology that was there and building some strategic partners so let's explore the opportunity because there may be some expertise out there, mr. fugate, i know at the university of lafayette 'cause i've seen it perhaps senator burris has a suggestion as well. i'd like to get to my line of questioning, if i could, senator, and we'll come back. i wanted to ask first, mr. fugate, what are your top three priorities? i know you have many. but if you could for this committee because we'd like to
work with you, we're going to push. we're going to work with you but push to get the very best systems we can. so what are your top three priorities as you're stepping in to an agency that has, you know, really been at the front line in many ways these last few years? how do you see your top three priorities and i'm certain that you've discussed this with the secretary and with the highest levels of believe administration. so would you outline that for us now? >> yes, ma'am. they're rather broad. they're easy to communicate and they require a lot of moving pieces. my greatest priority is to increase the responsibility of participation of our citizens to prepare for disaster. i truly believe that far too many of us who do not get ready, do not prepare oftentimes put our most vulnerable citizens in jeopardy as we compete for those
needed resources. in looking at these large scale type disasters i know that the more that those of us that can be ready, can be prepared the more successful the team will be. that's one. two, i really have, you know, come into this job with the understanding that in our response to the immediate needs to a establish and a governor we need to be focused on what the outcome we're trying to achieve and not necessarily look at process. i'm challenging the team as we have been participating in hurricane exercises to not merely define our response by our capabilities but define the response by what is needed to support an impacted state and local government recognizing there are many parts of that partnership but as an example, it doesn't seem to me to be very effective in search and rescue operations that if we're not reaching the injured quickly that we're mobilizing staging exercises and it's two days after the event and we're not reaching the people.
i would like to define what the outcome would be. let's work in partnership and say rather than wait for the disaster and try to bring it from the outside, how do we build that capability within those communities, within those states? and then where the federal government response how do we do that. but speed and stable is not what we can build capability to and say that's what the response will be but look at what could happen and go if that does, have we got all the parts of the team working together including our support from the national guard from our active duty reserve components to achieve that. and not merely go -- we're going to incrementally improve something. that goes back to the crux you raise and some of the challenges we raised in 2008 such as hospitals we hadn't gotten the generators preplanned for. we need to do that ahead of time. it isn't a generator. it's getting that hospital back online and that may mean a generator, a electrician and a mechanic and getting that
hospital back online so you don't have to evacuate it. and that's one of the things that i learned and continue to bring forth. that response based upon changing outcomes. the third piece, this is the piece i've seen in much of what have you been trying to get in testimony, it's much of what you've been writing about. is what is recovery? we keep talking about long term recovery and keep trying to build it. i'm not sure all the pieces understand what we're trying to do and i certainly recognize that the stafford act all by itself will not achieve what we need to achieve but if we don't have some focal point that says, this is where we're going, then i think we get lost in our housing programs. we get lost in these solutions 'cause they're not really tied to that outcome. so i use and it's a very simplistic approach but it helps me guide an outcome that i can articulate and begin looking at the variety of resources we have at the federal level to support state. and that is re-establishing a tax base.
in a community within a time frame that i would say no greater than five years that equals or exceeds that tax base prior to the event. and this is recognizing you don't want to just take five years but in an event like katrina where we have so much rebuilding to take place, that it's sometimes say it may be a simplistic measure but having been in government most of my life tax bases is a good indicator of the health of the economy. it tell us how many homes we have. it tells me people are buying permits and buying cars and i can provide for the services such as schools and other components and it gives me a chance to look at our programs that can come in such as hud dollars from community bloc development grant, training dollars that come from the department of labor, working with commerce and other groups and sba to make sure sometimes disasters happen as the community is pivoting economically and it doesn't make sense if you don't recognize just putting it back will not change the economic outcome and we still end up with a failure. so looking at something that may not be the best answer in all
cases, but from the standpoint of being able to give us a focal point to start driving recovery not just merely the stafford act but where the community has their tax base intact and they can continue their services that we've been successful in the housing mission, getting schools open, providing public safety, setting the stage for business to thrive helps me articulate a view that says as much as we work as a team to respond to the governor and a disaster, it's not fema, we merely are articulating on behalf of the president, the team approach of all of our federal agencies. that approach and recovery, which is to me one of the things that you cannot have a great response and not recover is still a failure. it give us a better opportunity to start looking at holistically what federal programs do we already have? what authorities do we already have? and even though fema may not have those programs, helping provide that focus of the stafford act, parts of the program doing what it can but
also bringing in the rest of the federal family to help a local government and a state re-establish that government, that tax base, which in turn is a reflection that we've been able to achieve the things such as housing, jobs, and maintaining the community infrastructure. >> well, let me say, mr. fugate, what you've just said is motor vehicle to my ears and the people i represent will be very grateful to hear a clear and passionate vision of what is needed and truly what has been lacking for many years here. and your focus on citizens and empowering them to make decisions to make all of this much better even though these are very difficult challenges, whether it's hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes or great floods. your focus on results as opposed to process, i cannot tell you how happy that makes this senator. and your focus on, which is
something i had not even thought of and i really am challenged by what you just said about trying to define what recovery is 'cause i myself have searched for that and your focus on identifying it as restoring the tax base either 100% or 120% or being satisfied with 80% -- whatever we decide it is, at least it give us a goal a that we all know what we're working for and i think that is a very excellent vision that you've outlined and i most certainly can appreciate the significance of the. let me ask you this question here on -- which i have to bring up to you and you know because it's a very -- a tough issue at home is the zone issue. can you take a moment to explain what a v zone is and how many
will be affected by this decision and why we're struggling right now with what we rebuild and what we don't rebuild because i'm going to press you -- i'm happy that fema released, i think, 60% of $33 million or so that we've got tied up in this issue that affects the building of fire stations, police stations along the coast of louisiana. but mississippi, all the coastal communities from texas to mississippi to florida are going to be affected and i understand and i'm going to get a map of the united states with all the v zones on it so people can understand. you may find yourself in one of these v zones and if a tornado comes, senator burris, and destroys areas in the v zones, the reimbursement that your community thinks they may be getting from the federal government is not necessarily going to happen. so i'd like mr. fugate to take a minute and i'm going to press you on how we can try to resolve this for our state but go ahead.
>> madam chair, v zone is a velocity zone. it refers to and the flood insurance program in determining risk. that these are areas that have the highest risk. and that we have had as a policy within the nation to direct new growth away from the most vulnerable, most hazardous areas. that's a good policy. it makes sense. the challenge, though, however as we go back and remap and identify these areas, we're oftentimes finding that we have many communities that were built in the v zone and historically are there and as we had developed our policy of passively directing construction out of there and again, not wanting to put new growth there but when you had a disaster, if something was damaged there we would relocate. well, there are probably opportunities in a small event where we had only a few homes that relocation would make sense. but when you're dealing with the
challenges we find across the gulf coast and other places that when you look at the new data that would suggest it's a high velocity or a high risk area, using the passive approach of rebuilding but allowing repairs to damage buildings but mitigating really didn't recognize that we still have to ask the question that as good stewards we don't want to promote growth in a hazardous area but if it's already there can we not look at engineering and you've come back where they do a lot more active engineering to protect property that we would look at as being in a vulnerable zone. so i think we're reaching a point where as we come back and we look at v zones we have the immediate issues you're facing right now in your district that we are working under our current rules and regulations. but also looking at as we go forward, is it time to recognize
that there are many places along coastal communities that are going to face the same challenge in a disaster that we have to recognize it if we're going to allow a repair to occur if we mitigate, why would a destroyed building not also be considered the same factor and should we not be looking at if we can engineer a solution that keeps the public safe, reduces the future damages, does not commit to new growth in these areas but allows those historical communities to rebuild better. and this will again be through your leadership and through the process of congress looking at reauthorization that we want guidance on. but i think we have to recognize that far too many areas that a passive approach of relocation only does not provide options that communities need to be able to continue as you pointed out numerous times doing an alternative project for a fire station far away from the community it's supposed to protect doesn't make any sense.
>> okay. and 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 will -- you can repair your home -- you can repair your home but we won't build a fire station. we won't build a post office. we won't build a library so the question then how viable of a community can you remain without a fire station, without a police station, without a library and that is a big question. and when this map is put up, which i don't have today, that's going to show all the v zones in the country and how many millions of people, millions and millions and millions of people live in v zones, 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. as you know i have a hold on that bill. that 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 motivated 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 in this hearing but we will have some more hearings on that subject. i've been joined by my ranking member and i'd like to recognize him now because as i was pointing out, he and i have quite a challenge. and as why i love having him on my committee when i pointed this map out to him, he said, strom thurmond was there through most of these. [laughter] >> he didn't miss many of them. >> he didn't miss many of them so he is ready to work side-by-side with mend