tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN January 30, 2015 6:00pm-8:01pm EST
times the 1st resort for insurable property that was not insured and those losses again it is a decision that we have to look at how to best ensure communities are able to rebuild but at the same time don't support or continue growing the risk. we have to understand there is a a certain amount of risk out there. the exposure for just south florida for a repeat a repeat of the great miami hurricane would be in the hundreds of billions of dollars with federal cost exceeding both sandy and katrina. it is, i think something we need to look at. we have to make sure as we go in after a disaster they are setting the stage for the future. >> we continue to see new disaster aid programs emerge ad hoc in reaction to disasters.
they all seem to have different rules and requirements and do not seem well coordinated all we are focused on obtaining the best outcomes. is this something congress should take a look at so that we can streamline programs and ensure that they are cost effective? >> mr. chairman, i would go go back to the post- katrina emergency management reform act. one of the things we have been directed to do is build a recovery framework to take those various programs and look at it more holistically congress needs to no what the total cost of disasters are. there should not be hidden cost buried, but i caution the the flexibility of those programs and the fact that we deal with pre-existing conditions, that flexibility is often times -- let me give you one example. when when we deal with housing issues in a disaster it is generally the affordable housing base that
was heavily damaged and was not insured. we are not the program that rebuilds permanent housing. if we are not able to partner with hud the risk you run into is a rebound effect. this is why you saw in katrina people and travel trailers for years after the disaster because we did not approach this at the beginning holistically. we will have to start looking at affordable housing. we need to start these programs simultaneously. the flexibility it is an important tool that we should not discard but it is important to have a total accounting of the real cost of disasters, not just what the stafford act disaster relief fund may be providing >> what incentive do you think the federal government to provide states to encourage better disaster preparation planning, budgeting, and smarter rebuilding to reduce future losses and cost?
>> we present to you, and again if i put my state had on i would look for more federal participation early. one of the things i have heard from both the gen. accounting office and the ig is we ought to be raising the threshold for disasters. i think it penalizes large population states because it brings them into the almost on tolerable level of disaster to get assistance. many states have developed their own public assistance programs but they only apply them generally after they have been denied for federal assistance. there is almost a disincentive disincentive for a state to manage small disasters for fear that if they do it may not make them eligible for a fema a fema disaster declaration. what we have been looking at is our current model once you reach the threshold we cost share back to the 1st dollar.
what if you did not raise the threshold but looked at how far back we go and give states more predictability about how much they are responsible for before we do come in with federal assistance and base it just not on per capita factors but look at the impact of the state economy, budget reserves. i think some states have been progressive and others others the state legislatures and often times seen the federal government will come in and have resistance to building the capacity. if we can build more capacity for the reoccurring routine disasters at the state and local level it would allow us to focus on large disasters. i don't think it necessarily brings -- brings the big dollar ticket items down but it does build capacity for the reoccurring events. >> thank you. i will now recognize each member for five minutes of
questions, and i will start with ranking member carson. >> thank you, chairman. thank you, administrator for the. the international association of fire chiefs notes that fema does not fully reimburse the fire departments for their firefighting efforts when called to service. in addition fema does not cover full wages required by the fair labor standards act or the backfilled cost of replacing a firefighter dispatch. sir, is fema prohibited by statute from fully reimbursing fire departments for these costs? if not why isn't fema fully reimbursing? >> i would need congressman, specific information. specific information. i would have to look at the cases. fema costs -- fema funds extraordinary costs above and beyond what was budgeted overtime costs costs of
backfill where you are supporting mutual aid under the emergency management assistance going across state lines and it comes back to the mutual aid agreement ahead of time. one of our challenges has been, unless there is an obligation to pay just because you have a disaster declaration does not make it eligible. we try to look at the non- budgeted extraordinary costs, try to be aggressive in identifying. we don't go back and do 100%. 100 percent. our cost share is 7545 percent. the fire management assistant grant costs we again, do not go back to the 1st dollar because each state has an annualized budget for wild wire -- wildfire fighting. if your office we will share with us specific details we we will go back and research, but my position has always been, if it is eligible, it is eligible.
we look at the extra ordinary costs but specifically to what case and how much, if they can give me examples we we will look. >> thank you, sir. >> i now recognize mr. curbelo. >> thank you, mr. chairman. administrator craig fugate, thank you for your presence this morning and your service to the people of florida. we remember you fondly and miss you at times. thank you. i represent south florida where a large portion of my district lives on our new the coast. one of the constant worries i hear from my constituents especially in the florida keys, is the need to reform the national flood insurance program. i am a cosponsor of the flood insurance premium parity act and owner occupied 2nd homes.
i feel it is critical that these properties receive the same relief already provided to residential properties and single-family homes afforded to them under bigger waters act 2012. can you share your thoughts on what best can be done to provide affordable flood insurance for my constituents? do you feel we should apply to commercial properties and 2nd homes the same formula for yearly rate increases received by residential properties? >> first of all, you can have a great guy in brian koon. you just opened up a very good philosophical debate and can of worms on how flyer -- how far the flood insurance program should go. if the private insurance companies cannot ensure it is it something that the federal government should assume risk for? we are doing risk transference. anytime the private sector cannot cover the risk and we take on the
responsibility you, the taxpayers, are backing it. that may be good policy, the desire and intent of congress, which i would support but i must caution that in transferring that risk back to the transferring that risk back to the flood insurance program which is over 20 billion in debt we have to understand that it is not an accurately sound program we will not be able to pay back its debt and growing that exposure may be good policy but it is one that we need to go forward and understand the risk. the challenges -- understanding the infrastructure and how we protect that but also how we enforce the future and ensure that we don't continue to grow that risk which does not mean we cannot building coastal areas. it does mean we have to build differently. the question that i would now back down to his we have a lot of businesses, a lot of homes, a lot of property is exposed. insurance is not available or affordable.
it will be a huge economic loss to local jurisdictions from textbased losses, business losses, jobs lost. if it makes sense to ensure that then we will implement it but i i caution that we have to make sure we do not set up an unfair system that continues to grow risk while allowing people than to build in areas without taking steps which can be more costly but then transfer that risk back to us. it is a shared responsibility, an interesting debate but i think we must be up front that their are many people both in congress and outside that do not want to grow the flood insurance program and that exposure and others who think they do. we would be interesting in participating in that debate but think we really need guidance on what the should be. >> thank you, mr. kayfive. the state of florida has learned a lot since 1992 1992 and has changed a lot. you feel that the state is adequately prepared today for a potential storm?
you are for to one earlier, a great miami storm. do you feel that we have done enough from your perspective to put -- prepare and mitigate potential damages? >> i will leave it to brian's to what he and the governor have been able to achieve, achieve, but i want to.out one thing that florida did. under governor bush it was the establishment of statewide mandatory building codes learning the lessons of south florida. probably the one thing that is saving taxpayers more money and making sure you still have commercially available insurance is the fact that florida did strengthen its building code and doesn't force it. it was a courageous step given that many people said it would make homes unaffordable. without that building code they would have been uninsurable. as we continue to see it
shrink it is a testament to better build homes and this is the lesson that all states should pay attention to. when you have the right building code and land use that risk can come down to the.where it is insurable in the private sector can do a better job of managing future risk without a defaulting. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to recognize mr. for five minutes. >> glad to see you back in the chair. mr. craig fugate, the nation's capitol barely escaped sandy. we were grateful just like we escaped the snowfall this time but we no from all the scientists that we are headed for major disasters. they tell us that there is
no longer debate about whether there is climate change but about how to manage climate change. i am interested in issues and will be talking to the next panel about a predisaster mitigation. trying to do some predisaster mitigation. fema has been helpful in what we have been trying to do with the so-called 70th street levee. without that the washington washington monument and indeed the entire monumental core would be exposed to horrific flooding rebuilding downtown washington and the monumental core.
the steps of been taken. i certainly hope since those steps were taken and that levee was done before the final word was in on climate change i will be interested in your view as to whether or not you think that could forestall a seriously sandy like storm but but i am also because it has taken so long interested in the drawing of the flood maps. as i understand the drawing of the flood maps the work of the army corps of engineers for certification is done separately from fema for from other agencies. why can't that work be done concurrently? that way they look to see
that the levy is constructed properly and they get on with the next rather than in some sequential fashion which ensures it we will be delayed. >> as far as that i will take that back to staff. prior to what you gave us with the sender" things like the environment of historical reviews we now do concurrently. the president is giving a direction on this. we will not change the requirements. as far as the direction for the future none of these designs are 100 percent solution to future risk.
you just identified one of our challenges. we looked at mitigating back to 1 percent or less. unfortunately we saw this as sandy. some of the mitigation work was done to that standard. so we are asking a different a different question. maybe 1 percent makes sense but for critical infrastructure maybe we should build to a higher standard. on on the federal side to look as should we come up with a more stringent standard perhaps even building higher, not because we have data to drive that per se but because of the uncertainty of the future data and these investments are literally tens to hundreds to billions of dollars of our future making sure we're building to the future with that uncertainty >> i appreciate what you are
saying. i wonder if whether or not want to realize this whether you could look into the 17th street levee and see whether it should be altered now to make sure that it meets the standard you have just indicated ask one more question. not a tragedy. more than 80 people want to the hospital underground and above ground and even underground was lacking now. thirteen years after september 11. of coarse fema is there.
had you -- is fema considered this account failure, what it could mean, not only in a real natural disaster. are you involved? and this disaster and helping romana and the various agencies and federal involved to write this situation so that we are sure particularly that there is the kind of communication that could enable rescue to occur? >> yes. i have a personal equity in this. that is the subway that i
ride home on. i was not in town. it went a little bit earlier than normally. coming in and going home. i know that very spot in the tunnel and can tell you anytime a train stops in the tunnel now people start looking around where before it was just kind of like the normal pause. our national capitol region office does work with those entities. i ask that we need to wait till we get more from the investigations but we pledge our support through our national capitol region to the district and metro for any services they require. >> the national council region office is currently involved with this investigation. >> we are not involved in the investigation but are their to support all the parties. what will happen when we do
get some of the details and recommendations we we will be in a position to support the district and metro if they request our assistance. >> thank you, you mr. chairman. appreciate your testimony and certainly share a lot of friends of years. in your in your testimony i notice that you made reference the national building, sciences. i notice last year in fema's budget as i recall there as i recall they were zeroing out of the predisaster mitigation. curious about how fema has
responded. >> the challenge for the predisaster mitigation fund has benefits diminished over time and was increasingly being directed to where it would go. you asked us to cut our budget teacher. we had we had to make decisions where those custard place. with a mitigation is important. i would be pragmatic and saying those savings are realized. >> i will give an example. him. if you had everything out he up he is somewhere around a hundred and 50 billion in total spending based on some calculations
we did, i think we spent about 8 billion on the front end and pro-we probably could have saved 80 to 90 billion in recovery. this is not made, made a very appropriate connection between the corps of engineers and fema. the corps of engineers has been directed by congress to carry out various mitigation resilience projects. the development phase in excess of 20 years. fema has expanded over a billion dollars in response of recovery claims. in one case i remember fema exceeded a billion dollars in payouts. the entire project was estimated to cost 586 million. can you talk a little bit about your coordination with the corps of engineers to ensure if predisaster mitigation is off the table which personally i believe may be penny wise and pound foolish. can you talk about the
coordination to ensure the resiliency of these communities and cost savings for your agency? >> we work closely with the corps of engineers and flood insurance mitigation response recovery. i also have to.out you can authorize a lot of projects. projects. if you don't find them they don't get built. places that are not seen a lot in disaster if the exposure is tremendous. and again, we do work with the court but it comes back to making hard choices. you have to make appropriation decisions. no doubt about it. and again there are often
times more projects identified that may have funding, they funding, they are having to make decisions across the states and territories. >> look, personally i think that the cut in funding is largely in response to the performance or inability to perform. one thing that we had posed to fema years ago was the idea of having some kind of funding resilience and cost savings. yet we were unable to work that out. as i recall, there was a prohibition in cases where you had a federally authorized project in place regardless of whether there was funding are not. >> it kind of goes back to authorization language and appropriation language where we have prohibitions against duplicating other funding sources. what we try to do and we
have had some success where project was not originally authorized command we were able to fund it. we were able were able to get good outcomes, but it comes back to when we have non- duplication, one was authorized. again this is something the committees look at. but the question i have, you don't want to routinely supplant or get into augmenting other federal budgets. we don't want to sidestep appropriations but something the community can look at. generally it is because if it is already authorized there are limitations.
it would actually be exceeding the authorization. i don't really have an issue with that but i caution that we don't want to open up a can of worms were suddenly the disaster relief fund is bypassing congress. >> a a chernow recognizes the german from pennsylvania >> thank you, mr. chairman. following either before or just following the storm significant magnitude than the describing the various applications that they needed to undertake to apply for and ultimately process and application. the question is looking at the recent gal report fema was criticized with a significant cost incurred to administer disaster assistance grants.
my question often placed on states and locals. first up one tool that we have used aggressively has been moving away from putting a lot of staff and granting temporary facilities. that is driving down cost. cost. the other one is the tool you gave us allowing us these alternative projects and being able to use the estimated cost and come to a resolution without doing actual cost. i would like like to get rid of a lot of the oversight and simplify the programs to where we are able to make determinations. on the other hand, you hold us is extremely accountable for overpayments or ineligible costs.
i think this track an extremely important balance by allowing us to move away from all the actual cost only have to continue to audit and review and survey to being able to come to a resolution on the front end end make a determination, agree, and make the payout. we have accountability to the committee and to taxpayers. the taxpayers. the same time it significantly was reducing our costs and overhead and is giving more flexibility to local jurisdictions. this is a knew tool. not every state has embraced it. new it. new jersey has not been as aggressive as new york. the project in new york led them to the projects, but we have also seen particularly debris. investors that up their
experience. knowing what we have had in the past i have seen improvement. many to work on that to get it better, but there is a balance between too much burden and not being accountable to the taxpayer's. >> i can appreciate that balance. following up on the sandy recovery act the increase in small project thresholds to under $20,000 is one of the things you are alluding to without suggesting it should be increased or decreased, could you share your observations and further efficiencies expedited, recoveries to be realized if that threshold were modified? are you comfortable with where that is? >> i let staff talked me out of were wanted to go. i thought that number should have been higher. we were looking at the percentage of projects.
i still think there is room to move it up. we have a lot of federal programs that administer much larger dollar figures. i am comfortable that through the ig oversight and our ability to focus in on what is eligible that we can move that higher. i would also like to encourage input from our colleagues at the state and local level but i think it is something the committee should look at. we don't want to just raise the threshold so that we don't have accountability, but their are a lot of things we could do with that that would simplify oversight, not significantly girl risk and exposure for an eligible and to drive down cost and speed up recovery.
what that number should be, i would like to work with the committee. we can go higher than 120,000. staff was able to pull the data and we want to be data driven. we looked at data, and the majority of the projects fall into that. >> of the projects fall into that. >> 95 percent. >> i still think there is room to move it higher, and perhaps you know my ideal world, small projects up to the threshold of the alternative projects. currently currently our threshold is a million dollars. i think again we give states the flexibility to choose how they want to do that, that, but if we can maintain fiscal accountability i am not opposed to raising the minimum threshold for small projects. i would defer to my state colleagues how high they think it should be and what they can manage but as long as we can be accountable it speeds up the process, process, drive down the cost and does not change eligibility. substantially less overhead cost to administer. >> i would like to work with you on that.
i think there is something that we can do. time is money when it comes to rebuilding. i rebuilding. i would like to recognize each member for an additional five minutes for questions, and i will start. we saw firsthand the tremendous progress already being made to rebuild and protect nyu's playing on medical center in new york city, particularly when compared to the significant delays experienced by charity hospital in new orleans. can you attribute the expedited recovery to the new authorities granted to fema in the sandy recovery improvement act? what other benefits are being experienced? >> as far as the benefits, it is absolutely an important tool. the other lesson we learned
from the events of katrina's, their are certain types of processes that are technically difficult and exceed the average capacity for people to manage. you need subject matter experts. we engage early, identified where projects will be whether they were hospitals or other large public infrastructure's, brought in a lot of experts, but it was not until you pass the sandy recovery improvement act until you pass the sandy recovery improvement act that we had a tool that allowed us to come to resolution. there would have been more uncertainty for the applicant on what they could and could not do. it it would have been more overhead in making those decisions, and they would not have had the ability to get what they were going to get from us and move forward. as forward. as it is we have obligated the majority of those funds. we still have projects from katrina that have not been resolved. the better understanding of the complexities and
projects, but you give us a tool that we did not have before to more engage the applicants in getting a better resolution on what the project involved getting a figure agreed to end off hitting dollars in the front-end versus waiting for construction to start and then constantly coming back to revisions and updates. >> some of the most alarming trends you have observed in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery? 's. >> i think it was alluded to by representative carson. when we talk about populations as we have built our programs -- and i have some disagreement on this tour but no one disagrees on the importance of getting this right. one of the things i observed is we always tend to treat the hard to do as an annex annex's. instead of looking at communities as they are in
building our programs so that they don't say we need to have an annex for kids aren't annex for people with animals or the elderly. they are part of the community. we need to plan more holistically, plan for what is there and not excluded. when you look at the vulnerable populations -- and i will be honest one of the growing challenges is increasing poverty and even middle-class have no safety net to a disaster would wipe out their savings and the most important equity generally their homes. we saw this in the hurricanes. i don't think people understand how big a role's a role's poverty and lack of safety nets in the middle class who are one payment away from losing all makes them extremely vulnerable to disasters and very difficult to recover. this is one of the things that we look at our program and cannot forget their are many parts of the community that are extremely vulnerable. it has a lot to do with the economy, economy, distribution of wealth and
the lack of resources such. they have suddenly found that there safety nets are not there. >> thank you. >> chairman, i now recognize ranking member carson for five minutes. >> thank you. this testimony talks about the need for clarification for functional needs support for general population shelters and that fema and the doj have provided information. information. what is your sense, sir, about when she we will joint guidance be issued from fema and the doj? >> a lot of guidance issues. i will have to get back. i know there is ongoing discussion but let me tell you what the outcome should look like. if you don't no the outcome looks like we we will talk about process. a
good outcome, and as a state director i was sensitive to this issue's. as issue's. as a local emergency manager our sensitive to this issue but you arrive at a a shelter's family should not be turned away. if you arrive because your pet, people have pets. we are we are to plan for that. if you show up on oxygen if you show up with a family member on a ventilator's now, it may not always be the best place. there may be other options, but what you want is in a crisis people don't really have the luxury of picking and choosing where they go. i would like to get to where most people, the majority of the population can choose the shelter based upon what is convenient not what we have been a willing or able to provide its. we are not there and it is unfair to say the state and local governments should be their immediately. we immediately.
we are not where we are because of lack of effort. they have to deal with existing buildings, many of which were not designed for people with disabilities. disabilities. there are requirements to upgrade, but many times it is minimal. the level of care type of equipment, durable goods, so this is a goal i think most of us agree to work toward. people should not be turned away from shelters because they are not easy to accommodate, but we must understand's, that is easier to say than do and there are challenges financially and practicality of what can be done to get there. there. and so we we will continue to work with our partners who advocate for that right, and i think think that is probably the thing that drives me passionately 's. this is a civil right. >> absolutely. >> we have to do everything to ensure we are maintaining that while understanding that this is not easy.
if it was no one would have questions, but their are a lot of questions about a reasonable accommodation, to what degree they should be be prepared, to a level they should implement care and probably the question is always where is the money going to come from? often times and local governments have seen tremendous reductions in staff and funding base is still are expected to provide service for many of which we will not be declared by the federal government and would not receive federal dollars. >> lastly, sir i have heard from some of my constituents about the long wait to attend fema training center in alabama as well as the insufficient funding for emergency response training programs in general. could you provide for us sir, because your last day there was so phenomenal and deeply insightful's, but could you provide to the subcommittee some
description of each of fitness training programs and an overview quickly of the budget for the last five years? >> well the center for domestic preparedness is a hard place to get into because there is high demand. it demand. it is the only non- dod facility in the united states that offers wide agent training. if you would like to go in and experience what it is like to handle lethal nerve agents and biological agents in a controlled environment, crisis training. our national fire academy is a a capstone program for many fire executives as well as training many programs for people come in for training delivered at the state and programs that are developed jointly with the national fire academy. the emergency management institute: located providing training for state and local emergency managers , bringing together it is a capacity issue. so again center for domestic
preparedness funding for some of these the staff continues to look at how we can increase capacity. it is a finite finite resource with high demand. a premier facility with capabilities not found elsewhere in the high demand for the resource. >> thank you, mr. chairman. just one issue. a long experience. as for his candid views.
that's not something you control. i want to contrast the difference between the way congress behaves after the terrorist attacks and for the way he behaved after katrina and sandy, after the terrorist attack it scared the dickens out of the country. i must say that it scared us so badly that after the fact we actually threw money at the jurisdictions. there is not a state that did not give money to prepare for the next disaster attack including states that al qaeda never heard of never would venture to care about but every state got some funds. i was on homeland security at the time inside up. again, i am not asking you about funding. i recognize and appreciate that predisaster funding in this of it in committee
saves us enormous for our savings for $1 invested. as we look at katrina and sandy i mean, i recall that in order to get funds even after new york and new jersey were laid low, it took two votes to get funding for sandy -- for you to begin to do your work and sandy. now, what i really want to no is as an agency which which is looked at disasters now terrorists and natural disasters for decades whether or not the agency needs a revision whether in
law or structure. can you sit there in the face of katrina and sandy and not envision when you see hurricanes occurring where they are not supposed to occur when you see climate not only changes but disasters in parts of the country that had never known them is the fema of today structured decades ago the fema that can handle the unknown that we now see before us? and here i am looking for how the agency, agency whether it is to ask for revisions in law or in its own structure rather than what you encountered after sandy and the finger was pointed right at you. it did not matter whether we gave money or how you are structured. you just have to take it.
and instead of taking it it seems to me the agency with the expertise should come before this panel and tell us whether you are prepared for disaster, earthquakes to occur in california, the kind it has never seen before the more shall we just sit here and think that it will never happen and just wait for it to come after us? has the fema of the 21st century prepared for what we no now from our own experience with katrina and sandy is surely to come in parts of the country where we never expected cuemack's if so if you think it is prepared, tell us. if it is not i should ask you to,, is the agency looking at how it can make recommendations for what appears to be an entirely new era in both terrorist
disasters and, for that matter, now we know natural disasters. are you looking at the future? >> i learned a long time ago the person us as we are fully prepared and know what will happen is a fool. >> precisely you don't. >> so we don't. i want to make clear. you know that they have hurricanes in florida, that they have earthquakes in california. i bet you didn't no that we would have an earthquake here in the nation's capitol i'm talking about what you don't no and what you we will be held responsible for notwithstanding the fact that you don't know. is your agency structured so it can handle what you don't know? >> that is where we are going. traditionally what fema was capable of responding to. that is a fool's errand.
we went back and started looking at where the risk and population was from and not looking at what fema was capable of responding to but the worst case that could happen. we started asking questions that were not easy to answer because the questions started generating response levels greater than the federal government. it forced us to take a different look at homeland security homeland security dollars because we find the jurisdictions. but they are a resource for the rest of the nation. many responders were outside the area were able to respond. we are following what you are pointing out. we cannot prepare for what we expect what we are prepared to handle. we have to prepare for what could happen. not what we can could respond to what could
happen. driving a lot of our decisions. we don't think the resources are necessarily being 1st answer, but it does require resources. it requires a budget. operating under a continuing resolutions not how you prepare for catastrophic disasters. i i have been under more continuing resolutions that i have under budgets. i would love to have -- if necessary if you are available to sit down and talk about this. response. move past the barriers of only planning for we no for what we are prepared to respond to and asking a much harder question. the president said this, we
can't protect everything, so we need to no what we can live without them all weekend. you start looking at disasters and where they can happen and where they are expected versus what could happen based upon the modeling we are looking at how you build and it's not just fema. we call it all government. it will take the federal government department of defense, a private sector. >> i would just add that at an appropriate time it we will be interesting to have a briefing could bring calamity to us. congress will be asked. if they could pinpoint i think it would educate me
and help the subcommittee. >> i i think we have some examples. we call this catastrophic planning. the fault zone off the coast of the northwest us. where we are going until you what we think is the path to get us there. that will give you an opportunity to look at are there additional tools? often times a constraint. in the past year we have responded to haiti which is traditionally the role of usaid last to support usaid ended it. last year we were asked to support the mass care issues
we supported that. capabilities you build in the give you give us these tools under the homeland security act. the stafford act is limited to often times only those natural hazards is. growing hazards such as cyber and others, what is the role of the disaster relief fund and the consequential and if it is not in rebuilding in the emergency response the ability to use the emergency declarations, is it worthwhile looking at such things kind of a question. it is not specifically excluded but it is not mentioned.
the response to the technical aspect. the states and and locals will be dealing with consequences. we we saw this in deepwater horizon. it's much the coordination with local and state government had to be built. but looking to grow all, but we think a better understanding of the intent of congress as you pointed out in the homeland security act as amended as a principal adviser to the president but also our role all for a lot of disasters nonlimiting the other the federal agencies to support or governors and they fall outside traditional loan disasters is.
>> the line of questioning. questioning. the national flood insurance program. in south louisiana we lost 1900 square miles. about 90 percent of the coastal wetlands. and what that does is make the gulf of mexico that much closer to our coastal communities. the changes that were enacted, the actuarial rates increased rates 20, 30, 40 times what they were previously. this increasing vulnerability is not the fault of these people. it is largely based on studies and actually the result of federal actions tied to the tributary project dating back to 1928. when you add on top of that some of the restrictions put in place when you add on top of that some of the challenges that were noted
to have a positive ratio. to proactive and reactive. opportunities to make communities more resilient and save taxpayer dollars. not all of those are within the purview of your agency. i just want to urge better coordination. there are opportunities here, projects year for these communities can be made more resilient. hurricane and disaster, rainy days. i i wanted to perhaps correct the record the context of the national flood insurance program.
20 million in debt, and then they have seen the study. you can you can justify that the program is in the black. you and i may not agree. you have also seen the gal study indicating they have been retained. not going into the fund. lastly as i i recall, the 2,005 storms, $17 billion which obviously is the majority of the date you referenced but the corps of engineers indicated that katrina was an engineering failure, yet be an ratepayers are the ones left holding the bag. and so i just wanted to make sure that that was also included in the record to not distort the solvency of the nfib program. as a result of decisions.
as a result of the changing landscape as result of actions that have had adverse consequences on the communities and the environment themselves. well, my sister lives in marrero and is on the wrong side of the month mississippi river. i also no that we did a lot of good work overseeing this, building back better. some very key decisions. in the latest one hit you see was elevated. i was with the governor driving through the hurricane getting down there, and they were able to maintain a four a full response. much of this was their decision. all the decisions would not be defensible and more. so we know this area. we have worked in it but
the numbers there and how you get to the numbers, the fact is the flood insurance program still owes and has borrowed from the treasury to pay out. and it is not able to pay that debt down. it was painted down slowly. again, this is a sense of a sense of congress. to be wanting actuarially sound program? for parts yes. for other parts we could put people out of their homes which i don't think was the intent. we have to make sure that we set appropriate levels and cannot run it as an insurance company and say it we will be actuarially sound. we will underwrite risk because there is no other way to keep people in their homes. >> i agree that taxpayers should not be footing the
bill. however, we should not call actuarial or program that is being run incredibly inefficiently in the $17 billion katrina expense that was at the corps of engineers admitted was actually their liability. >> thank you for your testimony today. your comments have been helpful to today's discussion. i look forward forward to working with your legislation. your input your input and support is vital to getting it right. thank you. [inaudible conversations] ..
they are all funded out of the relief fund but they are distinct and the overwhelming amount of expending comes from major disaster declarations. people tend to complete all of these together and say we have many more declarations but really that's imprecise and not very helpful. there has been a steady increase in major disaster declaration during our lifetimes. it's increase fourfold from the 1960s until now. and there has been steady increase i would also knowledge last year was the lowest number since 2001. i mention that to reinforce one fact that often gets lost when we start talking or at least serious about why a disaster declaration occurs and that is why they began with actual physical events. how to explain an increased number of disaster declarations for less in addition to increased weather events over the last 50 years during the
last several decades the population of the nation has nearly doubled and it could be argued that the population density has increased the density not just an already existing communities that we have heard a lot of increased development in areas that are very vulnerable to natural disasters. we have also observed recent commentary regarding marginal major disasters. these events are within a state capacity to respond that the central point of the decoration process particularly the use of the size per-capita amount that all states are not equal and that larger states do have more resources and should be able to offer more aid on their own. the primary source of increased disaster caused. more declarations result in more costs but it's important to understand that the greatest amount of disaster spending is attributable to the large major disasters not to these marginal events. as an example reviewed data from 1989 to 2014 and declarations
and obligations. we all made half of the staff for those years they would save approximately 3% in disaster funds. not only does the disaster account for 97% of the spending the top quarter of disaster caused after 93%. how can we begin to control costs? fair number of options to reduce federal disaster spending including cost share adjustment changes in roles might have an effect on shifting a greater share of disaster related counts not only in states and committees but the families and individuals. while some of these ideas may be worthy of consideration remains to be seen if such a shift would severely disrupt the states ability to adequately respond to a disaster. don't turn to those options is to continue emphasize mitigation that is taking steps prior to a disaster to lessen the impact of those events and save lives and protect resources.
mr. chairman your statement last spring on the dissonance and current mitigation policy by the administration was absent. at time of bipartisan consensus seemed to be developed on the efficacy of mitigation and how it can work the last budget zeroed out spending for pre-disaster mitigation problems with fema and later in the year the administration announced the nationwide resilience competition with nearly a billion dollars that remained in the cb appropriations for sandy. the disaster mitigation act of 2000 only 15 years ago now, was premised on the idea doing things before disasters and it looks now as if you circled back so while mitigation dollars are now following disasters including states and communities that do the work before they occur. to do resilience programs based on hud but directed her states that experienced disasters is not clear how mitigation
programs have the same cost benefit requirements nor is cerny reported collaboration among them. mitigation is not a panacea for all the problems created by natural disasters. [audio difficulties] savings in federal expenditures for states and communities that are processed at all levels of government and also the nonprofit sector and with the private sector. dear disaster declarations would result in less spending but avoiding or continuing to lessen the impact of future catastrophic events may arguably hold a lot more promise in long-term savings and protecting our citizens. thanks for the opportunity to appear before you today and i'd be happy to respond to any of your questions. >> thank you for your testimony and apologize for the sound system.
i was painful for us as well. administrator paulison you may proceed and hopefully your microphone will work properly. unfortunately we are going to have to pass that one. thank you. now we will see if we can get this one to work. the leadership of the subcommittee as chairman shuster has shown that these issues are critical. your mission is clear. we must find a way to bend the cost curve in disaster of the american taxpayer paid and pursued taxpayer paid to pursue this mission i believe in save additional lives and do a much better job protecting property. my name is david paulison on the senior proper -- partner are desperate to spend seven years in the federal service of a
nation i served as a fema administrator from 2005 to 2000 embedded in my aggressive fire rescue firefighter and became achieved the cheaper the miami-dade fire department. as a result i've had -- as to how we as a nation prepared for a deal with disasters. while it seem a tremendous public service awards i've also witnessed unfortunate errors in wasted pack -- taxpayer dollars. in most cases this was the ad wasted taxpayer dollars. in most cases this resulted in mitigation before disaster. not enough resources are being allocated pre-disaster mitigation. i believe this new congress is a golden opportunity to advance a bipartisan natural disaster strategy that will better protect the american people, property and save taxpayer dollars. with the senate and house of representatives working together across party lines now's the time to address the failed status quo with waiting for
storms to hit and passing massive appropriations bills. director fugate has done a tremendous job of fostering resiliency in the community oriented approach since he took the reins at fema however i'm sure even director fugate would admit there's much work to be done to build more resilient country by shifting more money to pre-disaster federal programs hopefully understanding the realities of exploding cost of service motivator. mr. chairman any attempt to change the status quo must ultimately begin with an understanding of the nature of the problem. this is how i beleaguer subcommittees work and play a major role. let me describe the nature of the problem we face an eyebrow to slight lankard according to fema federal major disaster declarations have jumped from a yearly average of 2023 under president reagan to an average of 65 and a president obama. the trend is undeniable but also nonpartisan greatest average number number disaster declaration per year has risen
under president george h. at the bush clinton and george w. bush. the second slide is a representation of the average overall insurable loss over the last three decades. as you can see the spike in overall costs are dramatically over the last two decades increasing from an average of 33 billion per year from 1995 to 20042 doubling to 65 billion dollars in the next decade to the federal government and insurers have borne the overwhelming majority of these losses. since $211,137,000,000,000 has been spent $400 per household annually with over 60 billion spent on superstorm sandy alone. sadly the federal government invested only eight -- for preventive measures in every $6 for him $6 the number kerry. this low investment is important factor in fema studies have shown if her does that for every dollar invested in mitigation it saves the taxpayers $4 recovery. ironically the loss from these types of disasters of the most
preventable with proper pre-disaster mitigation and resiliency tools like modern codes. building codes are the most effective mitigation measure we have had only 11 states across this country have adequate building codes. most of the states without proper building codes are in harm's way when it comes to hurricanes and other natural disasters. it seems to me that the critical question is what can congress do to bend the cluster of? of the former firefighter i'm reminded of the advice given by america's most famous firefighter ben franklin an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. in my view providing states and localities to adopt and enforce building codes is the most cost-effective mitigation tool we have. a build strong coalition urges enactment of the state-building code is built to provide an additional -- disaster grants to states that adopt and enforce strong building codes.
future savings that result from elimination of the post-disaster spending should be reinvested in predisaster incentive like state-building code of some of that to facilitate modern building codes in communities across the country. chairman barletta i applaud you, really applaud you for the announcement of the congressional roundtable to begin a dialogue on how to identified and quantified disastrous costs and how to use the study to find solutions. my recommendation that the new congress passed legislation in short order to commission a blue ribbon panel to explore why disaster declaration at all-time high and what's really behind the dramatic increase in disaster spending. some question the panel could explore increases really to population increases? are they related to changes in spending poor construction of homes or federal policy? what changes can be made to
enhance building resiliency with the panel could make recommendations to setting the proper role of state and local governments in solving this problem. specific attention should be given to the roles of fema hud d.o.t. to minimize the duplication of effort and waste we see now. i believe congress should authorize his blue ribbon panel and loses funding to put in place a national disaster strategy that aims to save lives and taxpayer dollars pretty want to thank you again for allowing me to testify before the subcommittee today and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you for your testimony mr. paulison. mr. koon you may proceed. >> thank you ranking member barletta and members of the subcommittee. the statement for the record resubmit it goes into specific details on many issues regarding how to lessen the impacts and costs of disasters but for now will cover the current state of disasters efforts were working on on with fema and ongoing concerns with the systems of management costs and obligations.
as you have already heard the number and nature of presidentially declared disasters has varied widely over time. of course examining presidential declarations provides only a glimpse of a true disaster response activity in this country. a majority that funds are handled at the state or local level and do not warrant federal assistance. in fiscal year 2013 there were 205 gubernatorial decorations and 18,000 requiring state assets. in addition to that local and travel governments responded to nearly 31,000 additional events that year. without a strong emergency management system in the state local and tribal levels many of the nearly 50,000 state and local responses would falter or require federal support. that federal support comes in the form of public assistance which amounts to half of the total funds allocated to the disaster relief fund. hard to wish her the most effective use of muslims in response to numerous government audits last year fema initiated an internal study of the program
program. the coming weeks agency will share data from a study with the states with the desired goal of an agreed-upon redesigned pa program that meets the needs of all stakeholders. a redesigned pa program which street might have virtual assisted reducing inappropriately allocating those of most traded class identified by gao in a report last month. the report highlights the continuing increase the theme is caused as a percentage of the drf which average 13% over the last 10 fiscal years while less than 2% was apportioned for grantees and so grantees. this is an area great frustration and concern to the state encircling needs further examination. we hope an approved process will reduce the opportunity for future audits by simplifying and standardizing efforts across the country and reducing the time necessary to close disasters. the current rate of the obligations causes significant economic hardship to the states and communities that have expanded those funds long ago
and require significant staff time nobody better spent preparing for future disasters. reduce administrative expenditures from the drf would allow the nation to explore uses for these funds such as increasing resiliency by identifying incentivizing and funding mitigation opportunities across the country. these resiliency efforts will ultimately reduce or costs and long-term. fema intends to continue conversations on all of these issues at our form in march utilizing the efforts of our legislative and response recovery committees to explore alternative and make recommendations to. the subcommittee in congress as a whole bunch of great links to continually try and improve disaster response processes. efforts such as the sender recovery improvement act h.r. 3300 was supported programs like e provide opportunities to drive down the cost of disasters. without a comprehensive look at some apartments traded issues as well we will continue to falter
in our mission. only through an effective response and subsequent recovery can we work toward building more resilient communities reducing the overall cost of disasters to states and the federal government and ultimately save more lives and property from damage. i look forward to our continued partnership in these efforts and welcome any questions you have. >> thank you for your testimony mr. koon. mr. andrew brendel you may proceed. [audio difficulties] >> okay. good morning chairman barletta ranking member carson and members of the subcommittee. i am brian andrew brendel of the san diego fire rescue department. into this thing and have international association of fire chiefs who serve on the fire policy committee.
thank you for the opportunity to discuss fema's role in helping communities respond to and recover from wild land fires. in 2013 wild land fires impacted every state. they were more than 47,500 wildland fires in the united states. they burned roughly 4.3 million acres. these fires caused the federal government over $1.7 billion to extinguish. for departments respond to most incidents pay for fires on federal lands to cooperate with u.s. department of interior and agriculture's u.s. forest service. nearly 97% of all wild land fires are extinguished during initial attack in initial attack in the morgue majority by local pipe rams videos for service estimates local fire departments provide more than $36 billion per year to wild land fire depression service. in 2003 in 2007 and in 2014 san diego experience fire season
that resulted in hundreds of thousands of acres being burned thousands of structures being destroyed and tens of millions of dollars in damage. the primary federal agencies for wildlife fire response and the forest service which responsible for fires on federal lands however bema plays important role in helping state and local agencies prepare respond to and recover from wild land fires on nonfederal land. under fema's fire management assistance grant fmap, fema provides assistance in the form of 75% matching funds to help offset the cost of communities for the control of any fire on public or private forestland or progress by the threat and such destruction as good constitute a major disaster be fema provides hazard mitigation assistance to the hazard mitigation grant program. this funding and help states and local communities protect the public and property advanced a wild land fire crane. they fema plays role in helping states and communities address this threat. it does not duplicate our place
fire suppression at the department of the interior however we would like to recommend some policy changes to help fema plan more beneficial role in the fight against fires. number one in the dynamic wild land fire environment fema must use flexibility with evaluating applications. applications must be submitted while wild land fire is burning uncontrolled and a rapidly changing environment they last me the city of san diego submitted an application six hours into an uncontrolled wild land fire incident that met program criteria. the application was rejected due it being submitted at a point in the fire's growth was slow and perceived by fema as less of a threat. had it been received two hours approval was likely. in the future female was mistaken to consideration special circumstances that can compromise the applications when a threat continues to exist.
to do otherwise they unfairly burden local and state taxpayers. number two congress to allow fema funding to be used to mitigate the risk imposed to wild land fire flooding. long after wild land fires were extinguished the structure of vegetation and the severity of the burned ground leads invulnerable for mudslides and flash flooding flooding. the ifc's has supported legislation to allow states to receive post-fire assistance along with grants. free fema should fully reimburse fire departments. and fire departments are -- they expected me made whole. unfortunately this is not the case. for example when a local fire department apparatus is committed to in incident it is no longer available to that department fema will only reimburse the department for 16 hours of the 24-hour day after the first 48 hours. a fire departments are not fully reimburse for their expenses
local government policymakers will not be as willing to assist other communities in future situations. congress should stabilize funding for fire prevention and suppression. in recent years federal fire agencies have seen wildlife fire suppression costs exceed budgets. the department of interior and u.s. forest service have been forced to transfer funding from other counts to continue fighting wildland fighters. this fire borrowing has depleted activities like reducing hazardous fuels and preventing wildfires. they ifc supports congress and aberson address the problems of the creation of the flame fund and the national wild land fire management strategy. we also have been supportive of legislation like h. h.r. 1 67 by senator simpson and trader which would allocate the cost of suppressing the largest 1% of the wild land fires to the disaster relief fund. every senequa cover the cost of federal wildlife suppression will allow the forest service to
fund other programs designed for the future wild land fires. in closing i think the committee for the opportunity to address the issue of fema support of local and state governments and wild land fire response recovery. the threat of wild land fire continues to grow more severe. fema plays an important role in helping communities prepare respond to and recover from that threat. the ifc looks forward to working with the command -- committee to address these issues and i look forward to answering any questions you may have. >> thank you for your testimony chief andrew brendel and i will now begin the first round of questions limited to five minutes for each member. if there are additional questions following the first round we will have additional rounds of questions as needed. if we can pass the microphone down to mr. mccarthy. >> mr. mccarthy have analyzed the history of our nation's disaster assistance authorities
and the creation of fema. can you explain some of the basic principles that are fundamental to fema's assistance programs emanations approach to disaster recovery? >> yes mr. chairman. fundamentally it begins as a partnership between the federal government in the state governments and i think it is written that the stafford act is written in a way that is of interest because it's extremely flexible. i know mr. fugate was talking about some of the ways it works in some of the ways it doesn't work. what struck me is i've occasionally heard it referred to as the kind of act he could drive a truck through and i also heard it referred to as a straitjacket. perhaps those people are right but i think it's a matter of interpretation. essentially fema's looking at the states as their partners and i think in a way it works fairly effectively and to have state agencies by the way, state emergency management agencies
that have grown in sophistication ability through the years and are able to work well with bema and make it work. one of the things i think is important is knowing the states and locals can do well and working together to repair infrastructure and repair buildings and water services and things like that but one of the things i want to stress that i think is difficult is when we say good things about what a great job team is doing or how great the disaster pieces working we do have there is one problem and that is creating expectations for families and individuals. the stafford act doesn't come close to bringing people back to where they were before disaster. and that the total amount that can be spent currently by fema on any family is $32,400. now that can't replace the flood insurance policy and it can't replace a homeowners policy and i think at times perhaps and i don't think anyone is strictly
responsible for that but there is an image created that don't worry the fema dollars are coming in we will all be taken care of. to an extent i think for state and local governments there is truth in that but certainly for families and individuals nothing replaces solid insurance and a real culture of preparedness. overall i would say in what i've observed in mice did get started in a bit part was fema i confessed in 1979 yet seen a really growing and maturing program that does address a lot of the toughest problems that communities face it if it does it faster and response much better than it did before but i think it's left with the question then of what's next? >> can get better and better at responding and we can be faster responding but as one who is written on the prigs disaster mitigation program absent that you are going to be repeating the same work over and over again in the same places until
you try to reduce the risk overall. >> as you testified the cost of natural disasters are driven by just a few events. if we are to look for solutions to reduce the cost are we going to have to understand what factors are resulting in the fuel offense being so expensive? to have a sense of what some of those factors may be? >> as mr. fugate mentioned in my testimony the biggest factor is we have had a series of events now where it has become and i think is partly what mrs. norton is talking about what is unthinkable and back in the 90s we think what is unthinkable is a hurricane going directly into new orleans or what is unthinkable is a strong hurricane hitting the new york city and new jersey areas. we have started to have those things occur. the density of the population and the actual value of the
resources being hit have driven these caused this high. some of the things we can do is to begin to take steps to begin to protect these structures to the elevation, to move some areas out of where rivers want to go or coastal surges want to go but overall i have to say some of the biggest disasters we have had take a big chunk out of that because they want for the people were and where the valuable real estate was and that ends up costing us a great deal. but there's there is still much we can do. >> thank you. the chair recognizes ranking member carson for five minutes. >> thank you chairman. mr. koon understand the states concerned about liability for failing to provide adequate shelter in during disasters but at the very same time sir how do you suggest we provide the same
kind of access to shelter those with functional needs for support services? >> thank you representative carson for the question. dealing with a population shelters is an issue that we in florida and other states have been working on and close coronation with bema and it's an extreme party for us. the issue comes down to how is it that we achieve the vision administrator fugate laid out given the fiscal constraints and the resource constraints we have at the state and local level to ensure we are able to provide the ability for anyone to seek shelter in any location during those times when we will be severely resource constrained. we continue to make good progress on that in florida and other places across the country. that is coming in the form of increased cooperation between municipalities, counties and with that the state itself helping us to make sure we are
able to apply those resources that may be in another jurisdiction in an area. we will never be able to afford to have all of the potential durable medical equipment at every shelter location all the time that we do have the ability to transport those in short order. the same thing for the human capital capital necessary in those situations. one hurricane in 2005 the state of florida had approximately 380 shelters open. we did not have the resources able to get four example 380 sign language interpreters to the shelters but if we have a network in place and a partnership and cooperation in place ahead of time as those needs arise we can deploy them quickly. that's the tack we are taking now to make sure we can get the resources available to be sure to properly and want to make sure we have a conversation at a time with the department of justice with the disabled community to make sure that in fact is going to meet the needs
and is an appropriate solution to the situation. >> thank you and to that point mr. mccarthy mentioned the difficulty of measuring state readiness and the capabilities when reviewing disaster declaration applications. what options have been considered and do you have any recommendations for determining readiness and capabilities for that matter? >> is something that fema has worked on a few times doing capability assessment reports trying to look at what the states themselves think they are strongest at. i think there are a number of pieces that have to be looked at and i would go to the gao report that mentions there are a lot of other ways measuring the states ability beyond the per-capita amount. that can be rainy day funds and the state's capacity. i think it's been an interesting conversation here today about what discourages states from building capacity in what encourages it. i think a lot of states are
responsible and they know they have to do as brian koon is pointed out they have to respond first and the responses of some federal help but it's interesting to think there are some states that do a wonderful job because they get hit frequently and know they had better be good at it but there are other states that because it's an episodic business they might not get hit with something substantial for years. you might find they are no longer budging towards it and that makes it all the more typical and they are hit. i'm not being responsive to this except to say something we would have to study checklist that fema could go down looking at beyond per-capita. it will likely be a better measurement of state resources. >> some have indicated to many small disasters by a famous resources and inhibit famous ability to respond to larger
disasters. as a former fema administrator what are your thoughts on this position? >> regardless of the size of the disaster where i see the same damage at every event whether it's a tornado or hurricane or superstorm we are seeing the same type of damage. i firmly believe if we look at pre-mitigation issues particularly with their building codes and how we are putting our houses together we can reduce our cost on the other insignificantly. 15% of the population in this country lives on 3% of the land and we are talking about $10 trillion in property. if we continue to rebuild that the same way we did. hurricane andrew, we lost a lot of homes, almost 90,000 homes
severely damaged with hurricane andrew and we looked carefully at what damage was caused and will cause them to fail what caused the windows blow out. we changed their building codes to deal with those issues. and it was tough. it was not easy to do. we had homebuilders fighting is that we had a lot of political will to make those changes and we did that. we looked across the country and there were 11 states that have building codes are regardless of whether it's a small disaster that the state handles by itself or catastrophic event like katrina is the same type of damage. maybe a big one cost more money but the damage to each individual is identical. i think we need to step back and look clearly at what we are doing to our building codes and how we are building it back again.
>> mr. chairman. >> thank you mr. carson. the chair recognizes mr. graves for five minutes. >> thank you. i was reading some of the testimony earlier and going back over the same things to question an administrator fugate. could you talk perhaps mr. paulson -- paulison about your experiences with pre-mitigation as opposed to post-mitigation response? >> obviously being on the ground and iran emergency management and taking over fema in the middle of katrina. we think we saw very clearly that we were not putting enough money and predisaster medication. again we are seeing the same things over and over again and we rebuild back to the same place. we are not going to evacuate
florida because it's in hurricane alley. that's not going to happen. we know that's not an option for us of the other option has to be now that we are here and we know we are going to have hurricanes what are we going to do about a? we can't just sit there and fold our hands or sit on our hands and wait for her to come. i firmly believe in that's why appreciate what this committee is doing to step back and look at why are we spending our money? the roundtable issue you talked about we don't know how much we are spending on disasters. we have hud spending money and fema and d.o.t. spending money. we don't have a clue of what we are spending totally. what we do know is if we do things up front to protect their businesses and protect their houses and make sure our government, local governments are state governments have good plans in place it's got to reduce the cost significantly.
i think mr. fugate recognizes that also. >> do you have any quick observations at different approach to response and hurricane sandy compared to previous disasters? >> i'm sorry could you repeat that? >> to have reaction to a different approach to response and hurricane sandy as compared to previous disasters? >> we made changes in fema after katrina. waiting for the storm to make landfall the way the stanford had to set up we wait for the local community to become overwhelmed up for this state steps in. i call it a sequential failure. it is a work in a catastrophic event. we change our philosophy from a reactive to a proactive system. it works extremely well in
gustav and ike. good stuff went right into new orleans without one fatality. we worked with the locals mistakenly evacuated the entire city. we had to spend a lot of money to do that and the budget office and president bush at the time agreed we would to predisaster declaration. administrator fugate has carried on the same philosophy. you saw a lot of resources on the ground and hurricane sandy prior to the storm making landfall even though it was not a huge hurricane. it wasn't like an andrew or katrina but still had a significant impact. as far as changing the response i think i would have done the same thing that commissioner fugate did. some of our other shoes in the aftermath i'm not involved in us and i can't respond but i can tell you spending money on the ground prior to landfall makes a lot of sense and it works. >> mr. koon i mentioned earlier when you look at the aggregate
of all of these policies anything from the new core engineering standards and you look at the nfip rate changes and many other regulatory changes in policy set of them put in place in recent years you begin to price communities out of being able to live where they are. can you react to that statement and perhaps some of the impacts you have seen in florida? >> thank you for the question. in florida obviously florida has more flood insurance policies than any state in the country. we are acutely aware of the issues surrounding it and we saw some of the price increases you referenced in your question earlier. it has impacted the communities but it is also given us an opportunity to consider alternatives and ways to improve for the future. in the state there is continuing consideration of ways to privatize flood insurance and encourage the market. that's something the state legislature has considered.
we are also looking at investing more in the reading portion taking advantage of that program to achieve discounts for policyholders by improving the readiness and resilience of our communities. so it definitely is something that is top in the mind of leaders in florida but it also better prepares for future disasters by taking advantage of existing federal programs as they are today and fully taking advantage of everything we offer to help get us ready for the next storm. >> thank you mr. graves. the chair recognizes mrs. norton. >> i have a question for mr. mr. mccarthy. you have been given an almost impossible task. essentially what you are asked to testify was on reducing impacts and costs and you have gone through the various options.
you say in the conclusion of her testimony you mention in the conclusion of her testimony something i'm particularly interested in. if you disaster declarations would likely result in less spending but avoiding or continuing to mitigate or lessen the impact of future catastrophic disaster events may arguably hold the most promise in reducing expenditures. he set in 2014 on page two there were fewer disasters but of course we understand trends by looking over at period looking over it. mcafee or send you site over 25 years when there has been an
acceleration. mr. paulison offered us a graph which was helpful which showed this is reflected through democratic and republican administrations and probably was a reason for the greatest rise between presidents reagan and h.w. bush probably had to do with some hurricane even less on the rise between katrina and sandy. i also note and especially in light of mr. andrew brendel's testimony that you say mr. mccarthy newfound management assistant grants often obviate the need for major disaster declaration because they provide funding that helps states to control wildfires. so that is something practical we will could do and it would mean that the funds would go one
place rather than another but it would probably be less than what happens when you have one of those huge buyers for example in california. when you get to defining declarations i say good luck. that's basically presidential. it's the governor coming to the president and you know i think congress might be able to pass something that tries to reduce it but i don't think i would advise it. then there's the question i asked to mr. fugate about changes in the stafford act or other ways to look at how we run mitigation or disaster relief before and now and what looks like a new era. you indicate that there were a number of the sections we could
repeal. you did what you are asked to do. for example he said that there was a suggestion that would have applied and i'm quoting from you a street formula to the declarations process and also would have reduced the federal share of disaster from 75% disaster assistance from 75% to 50% and then you quickly add section 320 congress insisted that a formula not be able to be the sole determinant of declarations and i submit as long as this is a union of states that probably is going to be handled on a case-by-case basis. the only real hope i see is in an area where you site some
confusion but also some hope. you quote extensively from the chairman who talked about roe confusion between various programs for mitigating disaster. then you point to india call it a mixed messages. one mixed message or one that would cause uncertainties from the administration that introduced what you call a nationwide resilience competition with resources at just over a billion dollars to the department of housing and urban development. you said it would boost future disaster mitigation savings but it wasn't clear that this program linked to other programs programs. you said it didn't have the same cost benefit requirements as the fema mitigation programs for
example. my question for you is if what the administration was doing was saying you have to compete for these funds in a competition wouldn't the competition bill than those various notions that we now use on a basis of whatever program you apply for and get some kind of regularized notion of forcing efficiency, moving to real mitigation and giving funds based on a competition to who could do mitigation, who needs to do mitigation most because you have to compete for it. why doesn't the very fact of the competition bill than the very factors that today are resulting in confusion among the various programs that are now used to reduce mitigation? >> that's an excellent point and
what i would say is i think the competition ends in march and we will be able to look at it in fairness. when i say they don't appear to have the same cost benefit ratio is something that could get built-in and maybe some applicants are building it in. in fairness to hug as they put it out they mention what they were looking for was innovation. at times i think people would look at some of famous mitigation programs and think it didn't encourage enough litigation. i don't mean to say it's not possible and it is a competition. what is difficult though and i apologize for having spent a career at fema before my past eight years s/crs at fema has been doing mitigation since 1988 and that doesn't mean that's where all the mitigation money must go but it's something that has been a theme throughout the hearing today is how much coordination is there among agencies?
how much do they talk to each other unless they are told they have to do that. i guess with the resilience program we will learn more when it's done and when they are making the awards. we will find out whether it's been innovative and whether they have built and some the cost benefits into it. it's been hard to see this and not know whether or not the people who have been mitigation across the countries in predisaster programs and post-disaster programs have been a part of what hud has undertaken now or if it's all new. >> i would suggest if you follow the money is the largest amount of money was given for competition imagine, all that but one of the factors in competition would be i think it was mr. paulison testified the common notion of building codes. if you apply for mitigation funds and you are sitting there
with no building code i wonder if you could win that competition against another jurisdiction he might have an equally good application but also had taken some self-help initiative on its own to have building codes throughout the state. that's a the kind of thing i think would bring together what it called mixed messages. i agree because you have several different programs trying to do the same thing. i might add each with a little bit of -- so thank you very much mr. chairman. >> i recognize each member for an additional five minutes. this question as to mr. mccarthy and mr. paulison. both of you have testified to increasing costs and losses associated with disasters. where do you see these trends going absent a shift in public policy in? >> i would say briefly as i mentioned in my testimony seeing predisaster mitigation withering
away seems to me to be the wrong message and i'm not sure i understand i don't notice a difference in philosophy and i don't know how it got to this point. it seems to me you do have to get get it upfront. you do have a lot of enthusiasm after disaster to do mitigation work after you have already spent hundreds of billions repairing things. the important part is to consider giving it on the front and and i will turn to the chief. >> you heard mr. coons say we have had years up and down but if you look at the trends over the last 15 or 20 years it has continued to rise and continued to rise. disaster declarations are rising costs are astronomical astronomically rising so we have to do something. we know we have limited dollars and mr. fugate made a comment saying we have got to respond.
we know we have to respond. he didn't have the money upfront to do mitigation stuff but he had to have the money to do the response side. somewhere along the line and again that's why appreciate your blue ribbon panel to step back and look at this. having a third-party takes the politics out of it and to come up with some good solid recommendations that allows us to get a handle on this. if we don't do anything, if we do nothing i see continued to rise and maybe beyond the capacity to deal with the response side. >> mr. paulison given your extensive background what are your thoughts on the ways the federal government could reduce costs and losses related to disasters? >> i think it's a partnership and it's not just a partnership between the federal government and the states. it's the state in the locals, to locals and individuals and the
private sector. working together on how were we going to protect our businesses protect our homes and protect their communities from disasters we know we are going to have. we haven't done that. we have had an extremely difficult time and i'm sure mr. koon will tell you this convincing the public to prepare themselves for a catastrophic event. we saw hurricane wilma not a catastrophic hurricane. if one across the top of my house but yet we had tens of thousands of people and that hour the storm's died down because they had prepared themselves. that cost the federal government millions of dollars to do that. not only the pre-mitigation disaster but the planning and the training and educating the public and getting the private
sector to protect their businesses also. we lose about 40% of our small businesses and every catastrophic event. they don't have the wherewithal to come back. that's a huge hit on the economy. we saw hurricane and are going through homestead it took 20 years for the community to recover because small businesses failed and there were no jobs than people bailed. so it is a partnership and something we have to work together and i think we have got a great fema administrator recognizes that and we have to give them the resources to make it happen. >> witnesses briefly and we will start with mr. mccarthy area where fix the examples were states of these programs to invest in a way that is already shum to have avoided additional damage? >> mr. chairman there are a lot of wonderful examples and best practices we can see across the country from kingston north
carolina to st. charles county missouri. a lot of examples where there is flooding every year except there are people there anymore and there are businesses there anymore. we are saving money each time. it's the dog that doesn't bark and it doesn't get headlines. a lot of that is really worked and i think too those are a few examples. >> mr. koon? >> mr. chairman we have already discuss some of the hud resiliency programs. in addition to that some of the programs offered by the small business do tremendous work across the state of florida. our cooperation with the national programs help us do a good job of meeting the needs of our citizens using federal and other dollars as well. >> famous hazard mitigation grant program has been hugely successful within the state of
california. it allows agencies and the community to find defensible space that allows us as firefighters to protect those homes and allows buyers to pass those homes without doing any damage or very little damage. they also allow communities to invest in noncombustible building materials. what we have experienced not just in california but you see it all over the western u.s. is that whether it be new construction and the building codes dictating certain types of materials that's all well and good are the new construction are those communities that may be a separate through a fire and then refilled. it's been on -- existing nonconforming structures that we have the challenges with and urging them to get involved in some of these grant opportunities and allow us to
protect them in a better way. certainly fema hazard mitigation grant programs have been a huge success. >> the chair recognizes the ranking member person. >> one last question chairman for chief andrew brendel. what role can be assistant firefighters grant program play in helping committees prepare for the threat of wildfires? i was my only question. >> that program has been hugely beneficial not only for large fire departments but the volunteer fire departments out only by way of creating grant opportunities for fire equipment but also training. the assistant firefighters grant the fire at -- benefit agency seller over the country in providing a wealth of equipment that we would not be able to afford on our own. the safer grant which is a staff
event that assist firefighters has provided much-needed staffing for large and small departments. that program has been hugely beneficial and just in california alone there are numbers of training programs that would not impossible had the grant funding not been available so we appreciate the opportunity for those grants. >> thank you. mr. chairman i yield back. >> before closing i have one final question for all the witnesses. we think of our proposal to conduct a conference overview of disaster assistance and create a task force or a blue ribbon commission to lead the study and develop solutions? with this effort be helpful to reducing future disaster caused and to better protect our communities? >> i have already commented on it a couple of times but i want to reemphasize how important it would be. we understand what all the costs are. i do think having a third-party
review like that is definitely going to help get good solid answers without the politics and again i applaud you for taking out on. >> as you mentioned in your opening statement it has been at least 20 years since any of this work has been done and we s/crs would be happy to support you on this. >> is we do and we are eager to participate. >> certainly the international association for fire chief stands ready to assist. >> i look forward to working with each and everyone of you and welcome man put as we move forward on this initiative. i want to thank you all for your testimony. your comments have been helpful to today's discussion. i've also received written statements for the record from the interlocking concrete pavement association and the national concrete masonry association. i think these organizations for their input on these important topics and i ask unanimous consent these two statements
included in the record. without objection so ordered. if there are no further questions i would ask unanimous consent that the record at today's hearing remain open until such time as their witnesses have provided answers to any questions that may be submitted to them in writing and unanimous consent the record remain open for 15 days for any additional comments and information submitted by members or witnesses by witnesses included in the record of today's hearing. without objection i would like to again thank their witnesses for their testimony today. this meeting is adjourned. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] ..
>> it spens >> it is appear spens we watch as parents. >> sunday night on c-span's q&a. tonight, some of the state of the state addresses. first the governor of soke and then the governor of new york and nebraska governor. followed by the inauguration ceremony for the second-term colorado governor. [applause] >> is the south carolina governor talks about the