tv Senate Homeland Hearing on FEMA Preparedness CSPAN November 1, 2017 12:12am-2:39am EDT
economic advisers talks about priorities for the economies. and representatives from top tech companies testify in a multi-day inquiry into russian's social media influence in the 2016 elections. day two of that inquiry kicks off monday morning 9:30 a.m. with a senate intelligence committee hearing. they will hear from facebook, twitter, and google. at 2:00 p.m., the same group will meet with the house select intelligence committee. watch both hearings on c-span3, online at c-span.org, or listen live on the free c-span radio app. now to capitol hill, where earlier today fema administrator brock long testified before the senate committee looking into response to hurricanes irma and maria and response to the u.s.
virgin islands. the senate committee rooms of -- committee runs about 2.5 hours. >> good morning. this hearing has come to order. i would like to say on the one hand, it is nice to see senator carper acting as my ranking member. the circumstances are unfortunate, to say the least. senator mccaskill's husband is in the icu. senator mccaskill is with him in missouri. we certainly want to send her thoughts and prayers. >> i just mentioned, i saw how he was doing. apparently he had a massive heart attack, i think it was an internal defibrilator that mayiy
have saved his life. there are still blockages to worry about and additional surgery and additional surgery work that needs to be done. to what the chairman said, keep them in our thoughts and prayers. >> i want to thank our witnesses, not only for being here and your testimony, but for the last two and a half months. i have been to fema's response center. i have talked to the men and women working with you. i think doing an extraordinary job, working 12 hour shifts for weeks, months on end. this has been unprecedented. starting back in late august with harvey, then irma and maria, literally within a span of 30 days, we have not seen anything like this. i think it is heartening, really. after katrina, the lessons learned, and a lot of those lessons have been put into place and used to great effect. when you have hurricanes and
disasters of this magnitude, you can't just snap your fingers and make it all well again. this is going to be a recovery effort that goes on for years. i think the response -- what we have heard in testimony today has been extraordinary. nothing is ever perfect. you can have continuous improvement. i think the men and women that work with you in your agencies need to be commended. your management of them also needs to be commended. this committee thanks you as well. this will be first in a series of hearings. from my standpoint it started with the high risk hearing, when i asked inspector general roth to take a look at problems in fema grant lending, how we spend money in emergency situations, what kind of controls. general roth responded quickly,
made a number of recommendations, which we have turned into a piece of draft legislation, working with senator mccaskill. starty else that wants to working with us on that -- we have been talking to appropriators, and how to marry that with the emergency funding requests, supplemental funding requests that were passing here. we are spending a lot of money, it needs to be controlled. the issue with whitefish is exhibit a of how careful we need to be in terms of how we spend taxpayer's hard earned money. we do need to review and lay out fema's proper role in the emergency management response. it is a subordinate role. if we could quickly put up the chart. everyone has this as well. this is a history put together by the heritage foundation.
it only goes up to 2011. it just shows the history of fema declarations of emergencies. it is really striking. back in the 1950's, there were between seven and 18 a year. in 2011, 242 federal disaster declarations, or fema declarations. there are a number of reasons for that. certainly, we continue to build. we have left moral hazard. -- that moral hazard. we continue to build and rebuild in flood zones. property values are increasing dramatically. more and more often, states are looking to the federal government to do what i believe was probably more suited toward state and local response. a result, it puts a great deal of stress on federal disaster resources and fema. director long, you have felt some of that pressure over the last couple of days.
i think it is appropriate for this committee long-term to look at what is the the proper balance between state and local response, and the federal response in these situations. from my standard point, as much as we can rely on the state in terms of preparation, standing up those emergency centers response before these disasters occur, the better off we are going to be. want to make sure we are talking about that. i did go to puerto rico. i was down on the seventh, about two and a half weeks afterwards. i will say that my initial response, having flown over a quarter to a third of the island, i was first relieved the property damage was not as extensive as i was expecting it to be. there is no doubt there is devastation, some property totally destroyed. i have seen pictures of st. maarten. and the basic stats, 2.5 weeks, 22 ports have been opened.
70% of gas stations and grocery stores opened. a third of the roads were opened. as we flew over, it looks like in excess of 90% were clear, but blocked in certain chokepoints. cell phone companies responded pretty appropriately. kind of share the burden, fixed each other's towers. it will be interesting to see what percent of cell phone service is back and operational. all 72 of the municipalities back then were accessible by road. the logistics problems was being eased. the biggest problem was 12% of the electrical power had been brought back online. i returned, convinced, and i think i continue to be convinced that the primary problem long-term in puerto rico -- even before the power grid -- even before the disaster -- was the power grid. it was weak and fragile before the hurricane, now it is off-line.
we are going to be spending an awful lot of money. from my standpoint, that has got to be controlled. what money we spend hopefully can be spent in a manner that we create a more resilient power grid that will power a vibrant economy for puerto rico for generations to come. my last point -- i have been in contact with the chairman of the financial oversight management board. i just received an email, a text from him last night. they met. i am going to quickly read the text to the record. " the federal oversight board unanimously has asked for a cheap transportation officer to take over the administration authority to reestablish power as quickly as possible. moreover, we must transform the energy sector and must ensure lower costs. in order to do that, we have to depoliticize the authority and open up to attract private capital. puerto rico does not want to return to d.c. with hat in hand in the future. the person of the board -- purse
organizationals management experience, including projects signed by the manager of the finance oversight board. they recognize that we have a with the governance of, the public ownership of prepa. that was exhibit a based on the $300 million contract, which has been pulled back with whitefish. i want to thank the witnesses. i will turn it over to senator carper. senator carper: a couple weeks ago senator mccaskill called for a bipartisan hearing. i am glad this is not the last, but first of several. i want to express our thanks to those at the table before us, those who work with you and for you. i believe in the last 100 years or so, we have had a total of 33
category five hurricanes that have struck the united states. 33 in 100 years. we had literally 2 within a week of each other. us friends at gio present to a high risk list every year, things we need to focus on. if we did, we could save some money and lives. one of our high risks is the incidence of extreme weather and the cost it is putting on the federal government. the cost is extraordinary. in terms of root causes, we need to keep that in mind. i'm delighted to hear the chairman mentioned the electric grid in puerto rico. i often times quote albert einstein, who said famously "in adversity lies opportunity. as bad as the adversity is here, there is opportunity.
been around the island a fair amount. my recollection is most of the power is generated in the south of the island. most people live in the north of the island. most of the power is generated from diesel powered generators and utilities. it is dirty. it is expensive. i am told of the cost is roughly twice what we pay in the mainland. i talked with the governor yesterday. -- his dad and i were contemporaries. we talked about his vision. it would be to move power generation for the south to the north where the people are, to transmit that electricity from one side of the island to the other. to use natural gas and bring down the cost. right now diesel fuel comes from
mostly south america, including venezuela. i heard that is a good place to be dependent on. gas from theps wit north. the governor told me his goal in independencecrease on generation of electricity from renewables, solar and wind, things like distributed generation of electricity, things like fuel cell power generators for electricity to especially help hospitals and places like that. i want to go back to my prepared comments if i could. i am proud of our delaware national guard. we have had delaware national guard units deployed to texas, florida, the u.s. virgin islands. we are grateful to the men and women, not just of the delaware national guard, but the national
guard everywhere as part of this team effort. easier -- in near the very near future we can have governors of texas, the governors of florida, puerto rico come before us so we can hear their perspectives on what worked well, what did not how we can be more helpful, sometimes include mayors. sometimes we don't always want to hear from people who were going to be critical that we need to hear folks that are critical, as well as those that think a good job has been done. it isn't perfect, make it better. we can hear from governors and some other leaders, that would be helpful. i think we are at the beginning of a difficult rebuilding effort . the cost of devastation may well exceed $300 billion. more than double the total economic damage of both hurricanes katrina and rita in 2005. we must ensure the federal government is meeting the needs of the survivors of these disasters and ensure funds are
-- ensure that federal funds are being used efficiently and effectively. every dollar of waste is a dollar that will not help other americans in need. we have already heard about risk and questionable contracts. this has been discussed quite a bit, and i don't think it can be discussed too much. a lot of us were shocked to hear that the $100 million contract to repair the electric did was awarded by the puerto rico electric power authority, a company with two full-time employees existed. it ends up getting a $300 million contract. heaven help us. that is unbelievable. i cannot overstate the urgent need to quickly restore power to homes, structures, and to ensure the availability of safe and clean drinking water for all citizens of the united states. we talked about the electric generation. i won't go into that further.
looking forward -- i think senator murkowski will lead a delegation as early as this weekend. i would love to be a part of that with her. they have a fair amount of jurisdiction. this committee, as does the committee of public works, where i serve as will. finally, i understand the time under which people can apply for -- individual assistance has been extended to march? can somebody nod if that is correct? if you could address that when you speak, that would be great. says right here, fema extended the deadline to march. we will be happy to hear of that. mr. chairman, in closing i just want to say a few words about the obligations our federal government has to rebuild when disasters strike any part of our country.
when extreme weather like this hits, it is scary, it is dangerous, often far more powerful than we imagine it would be. for those of us who have not had the misfortune of living in the path of destruction, it is hard to imagine. i have seen destroyers -- i've seen destruction off the coast. i have flown into monsoons in the pacific ocean, got run over by katrina with boy scouts on a sailboat coming down the coast of florida during that storm. had a little bit a taste of this stuff. it is scary as can be. for the people whose reality became a nightmare, they just want to know there is a path to a better and safer future. not half is a shared responsibility. the leaders of further recall must -- leaders of puerto rico must do their part. our federal government has a moral obligation to help as well. like the folks at home depot like to say, you can do it, we can help. that i think applies
>> thank you sen. carper i would like to make my to investment statement entered into the record. >> without objection, i would also like to be entered. >> if you all would just like to raise your hand rise up. do you swear the testimony you do use rather testimony you give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? >> please be seated. mr. brockwitness is long, the administered or of the federal emergency management agency. his work is overseeing a response to national disasters and emergencies face of the united states including the hurricane harvey, irma, and maria. i just want to say thank you mr. long. you have been doing extraordinary service over the last 2.5 months. >> thank you, sir.
before i get started, i would like to say that my prayers are with ranking member mccaskill and her husband. it is a pleasure to be here today, it truly has been on the dented. i am here to discuss anything you would like to in -- in regards to our response to recovery efforts. been involved. like me, i have seen i work with people who are truly dedicated, that come to work who want to save lives and help people get on the pathway to recovery and become more resilient. i have been in office 132 days. 478 of those days, we have been actively responding to harvey, irma, maria and the california wildfires as well. each one of these events that i spoke of could truly be catastrophic events, standalone events, but they happened in rapid succession, a 25 day period.
which is obviously unprecedented. chairman johnson in regards to , this, i think it is important to point out before harvey heads, fema was responding to 30 different disasters in many states that you folks represent. not only in addition to those major declarations, we were responding to 50 different fire management assistance grants due to the wildfires taking place. while there many improvements to be made to ensure whole community response, i do recognize that there are many challenges ahead, particularly when it comes to california, texas, florida the virgin , islands, puerto rico, i want to put a couple of things in context for this most recent response. if you start with harvey to the california wildfires, 25 million americans have been impact. that is 12% of the population.
basically in a two-month period, over a 50 day time. the fema search and rescue teams 50 day time period. the fema search and rescue teams saved 9000 lines, in addition to our dod partners, coast guard partners, first responders to my neighbors helping neighbors like the cajun navy coming to houston, tens of thousands of lives have been saved. four and a half million americans have been registered in the fema assistance program. that is greater than hurricane katrina, sandip -- sandy, wilma rita combined. we can't make you whole, but we can serve as a catalyst to help you recover. over $3.5 billion was expedited into our flood insurance program, immediately to our policyholders. that number is projected to grow to $60 billion to $17 billion
for hurricane harvey and irma alone. since the onset, we have worked with the red cross, to shelter 1.1 million americans. the peak population in one night was 200,000. that is unprecedented. to believe reason that commodity mission and humanitarian mission to puerto rico and the virgin islands as well as all the states has then one of the largest humanitarian missions and the history of fema. while there is existing response and recovery challenge that need to be solved, chairman johnson, in regards to your opening comments, and optimal response and recovery process should be federally supported, statewhilee managed, locally executed. each level of government has a critical role to play that we have to continue to define what the responsibilities are, what they target capabilities should be. in the case of puerto rico they , were hit by two major hurricanes in rapid succession, which created a diminished capacity.
not only were there responders disaster survivors, but also the ability to respond was compromised. that puts fema as the primary responder and the first responder which is never a good , situation. when fema is the first and primary responder for many weeks, we will never move as fast as anybody would like. i recognize that. moving forward we continue to , work to restore the power particularly in puerto rico. restoring the power solved a multitude of problems. it will require our partners at the army corps working hand in glove with governor rick seo who i talked to on a regular basis. we have to restore hospitals and medical facilities to normal functions. each one of the missions is going to be unique. from california all the way to the virgin islands. we are working to rectify those issues every day. clearing roads, getting rid of debris is also a major mission.
there's 3.5 cubic yards of debris in puerto rico alone. communication and cell service, is something else. we are up to 85% along puerto rico. the retail industry is back up to 90%. the water systems are back up to 80%. progress is being made but we have a long way to go. in the future, i have not had a chance to catch my breath, after action review of the things that just happened among but i do have several ideas. i think as a community, we have two streamlined disaster recovery programs that are offered across the government. we've got to simplify them, make them easy to understand, help our state and local partners understand when to use these things. i will be asking for your help to do that. we have to work with the private industry to make sure that as we become more and more attached to our cell phones, the systems
being implemented are resilient and redundant. we have to do more free disaster we have to do more free disaster litigation. it is key to reducing disaster impacts. we have to ensure state and local governments like texas and florida have their own licensed commodity capabilities and the federal government is not shouldering the entire burden. we have to find low to no cost ways to help our citizens be properly insured. insurance is the first line of defense. those who are insured will recover quicker than those who do not have insurance. we have to make sure states have their own baseline capabilities to handle public assistance when federal disaster declarations are not coming to town. we have to do work to fix the in -- six the nfip program. these are some of the things we have to work on, there are several more ideas i have. i wanted to be here and answer
your questions today. >> our next witness, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense integration. in this role he is responsible for the development of defense support and interagency coordination. >> thank you. distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the department of defense's support of the federal response to hurricanes harvey, irma, maria. the department of defense is a fully committed and critical partner in the national response system. dod has a long tradition of working with federal, state, and local partners responding to domestic disasters in emergency. led by administrator long and statewe have a key role and local disasters. we also support federal partners
and departments such as health and human services, department of transportation, and department of energy in their role as emergency support function leads. dod is well prepared and has forces and capabilities ready to act immediately to sustain lives in the aftermath of disaster. ensures a high level of preparedness by continually enhancing our integrative planning, improving training, conducting joint exercises between our federal, state and local partners. in advance of each of these hurricanes, the secretary of defense directed dod to provide full support to life saving, life sustaining operations. based on this direction, dod postured significant capabilities. navy ships, strategic airlift, helicopters medical teams, and , logistics.
prior to each of the hurricanes landfall to assist the citizens , of texas florida, puerto rico, and the u.s. virgin islands. to date, the department of defense has responded to over 311 mission assignments from fema and our other federal partners. using the total force and its response, thousands of army, navy, marines acting in reserve and guard have responded to these hurricanes. under the command of general robinson, federal forces conducted search and rescue, evacuation operation, provided damage assessment, surveyed and made repairs to open airports and seaports. critical roadways transported life-sustaining commodities of food and water, provided fuel distribution, conducted assessments of civilian hospitals, and provided medical
support to include a vacuous ating patientsvacu . u.s. trends, has flown 2800 flights over the last 60 days in support of these operations. with 1900 flights in support of puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands. transporting urgent first responders like fema's urban search and rescue teams the , disaster medical teams, relief supplies and equipment, and evacuating hundreds of residents and patients. the defense logistics agency has provided millions of gallons of fuel over 850 generators, and , more than 100 million meals and millions of liters of water and life saving sustaining a -- commodities. the u.s. army corps of engineers conducted maritime port surveys, along with the u.s. coast guard, installed temporary roofs to
enable people to stay in their homes, provide power to critical facilities including hospitals, fire stations, and other municipal buildings. more significantly, continued to work to restore puerto rico's electric grid, and its pre-storm status. a new and unique mission for the corps of engineers under the stafford act. our military services at the installation level also provided critical transportation, logistics, medical services to local officials and their communities under immediate response authority. and thousands of army and air national guard personnel working with of their respective governors on the affected states and they conducted search and rescue, evacuation operations, commodities distribution, and other critical support operations. the men and women of the defense
department, military and civilian, where ready and acted with a great sense of urgency in responding to harvey, irma, and maria. chairman johnson, distinguished members of the committee, thank you. i look forward to your questions. sen. johnson: our next witness, major general donald jackson. general jackson is the the deputy commanding general for the u.s. army corps of engineers. general jackson. -- he oversees major disasters. general jackson: my name is major general jackson. thank you for the opportunity to testify today. under the stafford act, we support fema under the framework
federal agency for public works and engineering. we provide temporary power, roofing debris management, , infrastructure assessment, facility restoration, and temporary housing. 499, weublic law 8 coordinate with local and state workers. we repair damaged authorize federal projects and work with state municipalities to restore flood infrastructure to pre-storm conditions. when disasters occur, core teams teams are deployed across command to assist with the response to the event. the corps has more than 50 specially trained teams that provide
public works that i just described. they use temporary roofing and supported operations and support of multiple events including hurricanes harvey, irma, and maria. fema directed 37 mission assignments. currently we have 183 employees still deployed. the corps continues to support the state of texas with temporary housing. debris teams continue providing state and local municipalities with debris assistance, to monitor debris removal, in 15 counties. the corps has personnel deployed. this includes 250 assessments, 150 generators installations.
and the 750 assessments with 400 generator installations in puerto rico. under fema authority we are assisting puerto rico with operation and maintenance of critical nonfederal generators across the island. the corps has completed over temporary roofing 13,000 installations in florida. we also have completed over 6000 temporary roofing installations across the caribbean. including 2000 and the u.s. virgin islands and summon puerto rico. roofing requirements have been extensive, requiring additional material and construction support, which initially slowed progress. we have adjusted, added capacity, and nursing daily improvements in both locations. experts provide technical and provide oversight the five regions within the florida department of emergency management. the corps is working to removed debris from the virgin islands and puerto rico. the corps
works closely with the u.s. and locald, noaa, authorities, working closely with officials in texas and florida to manage local flood areas. in puerto rico, they inspected 17 dams and worked closely with authority rico power to minimize damage. the teams cleared existing conduits and replaced emergency pumps to reduce water levels, to restore flow to a critical treatment plant that supports the needs of 30,000 people. the corps was given a mission september 30 assignment to assist the puerto rico electric power authority conducting emergency repairs to the power grid itself. the core is partnering in this effort and will provide technical assistance.
the department of energy has experts that continue to assist in our efforts. within two weeks of her receiving the contract, they theabilized -- stabilize grid in san juan. there are ongoing efforts to complete the mission as quickly as possible. the corps remains capable of performing across the nation, despite these ongoing response and recovery operations. we are ready and poised to assist any future events as they may occur. this concludes my testimony. i look forward to answering any questions you may have. >> thank you. our final witness, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response for health and human services. he coordinates the medical assistance after major disasters, including sending teams to affected areas and working with local hospitals. >> thank you very much. it is a privilege to appear before you.
as director long identified, a -- an unprecedented series of category 4 in category five hurricanes that hit the u.s. mainland the season. hhs and partners that dhs have pushed many organizational and historical boundaries to save lives and support communities and people impacted by these storms. i fully recognize regions in puerto rico and the virgin islands were people are still facing dire conditions. i saw the devastation firsthand. i can assure you hhs continues our response at 110% effort and asl continue to work as hard we can until the conditions improve and we can bring people back to recovery. since this is my first time testifying, i will begin with a brief description of this position. it was created almost 11 years
ago in response to hurricane katrina. its objective was to create unity of command, consolidating public health and medical preparedness response functions under one person. i have the privilege of being the staff director of the senate subcommittee that giraffe -- that drafted this legislation. the mission is to save lives and protect america from health security threats. hhs, in accordance with support function number eight, which includes federal partners that are seated at this dais. today threats facing our country , are more diverse and more lethal. my main objective is to prove national readiness and response capabilities for the 21st century threats. i'm doing that through four key priority efforts. it is more resilient and capable.
sustained, robust and reliable public health security capabilities that reside at the state and local level, the backbone of any response to any future circumstance. lastly, countermeasure enterprise. created unique challenges, especially in puerto rico where no life was untouched. i was overwhelmed by the resilience of our fellow citizens for making do in difficult situations. our response strategy for health emergencies have been threefold. first, save lives, principally through the deployment of our disaster medical assistant teams. iu should be proud to know met with your fellow citizens from your state during my trips to florida, texas and puerto rico.
folks from oklahoma, wisconsin, delaware and new hampshire were aiding their fellow citizens firsthand. secondly, to stabilize the health care system, ensuring a very important activity such as uninterrupted fuel supplies, how the water supply to be delivered to not only the hospitals, but dialysis clinics to ensure these systems stayed in place. lastly, to restore health care services that need to be recovered to predisaster levels. in puerto rico we are still responding. in other areas, recovery is underway. in order to save lives as i mentioned, we activated the medical system that it -- the deployed more than 2900 personnel from 21 states and hundreds of other employees including u.s. army corps personnel. for each of these storms we deployed teams even before the
hurricanes made landfall, so they were ready to respond immediately once the storm passed. we have cared for 22,000 patients, 12,400 in puerto rico alone. we sent 950 tons of medical supplies and equipment to the affected areas. i am happy to answer any questions you may have. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. sen. johnson: i would like to start with administrator long. you talked about -- a real danger zone when when fema is in charge of first responding. when you are no longer subordinate but leading the effort. can you describe how it is supposed to work and why that is a problem? mr. long: the stafford act is designed to support state and local efforts. the way disaster declarations
were, when a local government's capacity has been exceeded they call upon mutual aid first to see if they can mitigate the disaster and to the response. if that is not an option or not working, or the capacity has further been expanded, they will call upon the state. the governor will issue a state of emergency and the state will try to rectify as much as they can the disaster. and once that has been exhausted or the state recognizes it is beyond their capacity, they call upon the federal government, and we begin to mobilize. you have seen the system in the community work. the successful model was in texas, florida, and now in california. while everything never runs as perfect, for the most part it is operating as it should. what we have to do in regards to puerto rico, virgin islands, other island territories, is to ensure that they have management infrastructure in place at the state and local level and we can , make sure that we have
survivable communications. anytime we lose communications and completely blackout like we did in puerto rico it is hard to obtain situational awareness and fully understand what the true response and recovery needs are. sen. johnson: you have been on the job for 132 days, but who is keeping track? apparently you are. you have been involved in disaster response for many years. has there been a shift? have we created moral hazard? is there more growing reliance on the federal government being the first responder as opposed to being subordinate? >> that is a great question. that would be in pockets. some of the states are very capable. there are some states where i believe, maybe we need to take a look at which states have rainy day funds and mechanisms to implement their own public assistance programs, when federal disaster assistance is
not coming. i also believe that many states, several states have their own ability to run life-saving commodity capabilities. the have the ability to run 120 hours, where other states have not addressed those issues. i think we do have to go back and reestablish with our state and local partners what is the , baseline effort that should he there? and put forward those capabilities to make sure we are prepared. one of the things i want to do is develop state integration teams. i want to move beyond regional offices and put full-time staff with state agencies to make sure we are truly doing real planning on a daily basis and fema is a part of the conversation so we understand how to support all governors when called upon directly. sen. johnson: that might be a good action item now.
to do a state-by-state assessment in terms of emergency management. we will note that. finally, as i left puerto rico, to me it was all about power, power, power. you have a disaster, a crisis. it will grow if we do not establish power. where are we at? what are the prospects of reestablishing power? what do we have to do? >> i am exercising under the stafford act emergency authority, with the army corps of engineers, it was the right thing to do because of the diminished capacity on the island. they are mobilizing under emergency authorities to rebuild the grid to u.s. code standards. the discussion that needs to be taken after that, how do we build a power grid that is resilient?
that is going to require authorities far greater than the stafford act and fema. typically, we have to do is restore to a condition but that is not the way i would recommend this country to go. we do not want to be back in the situation again after having this disaster and an opportunity to change it. i will turn it over to general johnson. general johnson: the grid today is slightly over 33% restored, based on the basic load it had before the storm. there is incremental progress being made. the line repair and restoration activities that have been done at been done by prepa. the corps of engineers has done a few things to get personnel on the ground. we installed a 50 megawatt generator within the last week that helped stabilize the grid in the greater san juan area and it added 40 megawatts to the
system today and yesterday, which has been helpful in upping the power. we are approaching this in a number of different ways. first of all the normal , authorities the corps of engineers has is generator installations. we will come into an affected area and install the generators, then we will take them out as the power grid comes out. grid restoration activity is usually ended by the local public utility and sometimes augmented by other capabilities outside of the state. in this particular case prepa , chose not to activate the type of normal arrangements that are used by public utility association. fema turned to the corps of engineers to help with the grid restoration. based upon the emergencies are created. what we have done up to this point in order to do that is to continue our temporary generator installation mission. we are almost at 400 separate -- temporary generator
installations at this point. those range from 40 kilowatt to 1.5 megawatts. those get installed at critical facilities prioritized by fema and the commonwealth. that is typically hospitals, wastewater treatment facilities communications platforms, , schools and other places. we will continue to do that as the grid continues to come together. we also worked closely with prepa. to remind everyone, we got this mission assignment on the 30th of september. that was to do grid restoration in puerto rico. we have been doing emergency temporary power since irma hit on the sixth of september. we had increased capabilities to do more. we will continue to do so as long as we need to. we awarded a contract to the 50 mega life generator to stabilize the load in san juan. and get more people more power
more quickly. since the 30th of september we have worked closely with prepa to get an understanding of what material they need to do this measure. they did not have a real good handler understanding of what they had. we had to go physically from place to place to count how many pools they had. we have placed things on order and worked hard to get the material moving to puerto rico. that is happening as we speak today. the process through of awarding contracts. we are unable to enter into the agreement, itnce is very similar to what we award for our debris. they are on the shelf, ready to award, they can be rewarded right away.
we have had to go through a competition process. we have done that and we have got 150 contractors on the ground, aside from the 450 corps thengineers employees on ground today. by the end of the weekend, those numbers will rise up another 500. by the middle of november, we should have about 1000 people on the ground. we are moving fast immobilize the ground crews. we need to continue the support of prepa. we're 30% by the end of october. we are there now, thankful in part to the hard work prepa is doing. our next goal is 50% by the end of that is the goal we are november. shooting for now. >> thank you, let's go seven minute rounds. there are requests for two rounds, but be mindful of time. sen. carper: thank you for your
testimony. my wife, mr. long, is a graduate. you went to undergraduate and graduate school there. the mountaineers are proud of you. i recall meeting your wife and children at your confirmation hearing. to your family, the families of everyone to interview represent, fema, the army corps, i just want to convey our thanks to them for the support they are providing for loved ones they have to help in dire straits. i want to stay with the issue of energy. we talked a lot about how to provide a nursery environment for job creation and preservation. energy is part of that. affordable, reliable energy is a huge part of that. they don't have affordable energy in puerto rico.
they did not have it before, and do not have it today. i said earlier, in adversity lies opportunity. my conversation with the governor of puerto rico yesterday we talked about the , situation they have now. the power is generated in the south of the island most people , live in the north. they use mostly diesel to provide power for the electric grid, which is badly damaged. they still have this reliance on oil, a lot of which comes from south america. when i look around the world, one of the smart energy programs involves natural gas where it is sheep, and supplement that with renewables. bring up the natural gas and provide electricity and a -- in a cost-effective, cleaner way than with diesel or fossil fuels. let me ask, the governor said to me yesterday, he wants to
increase their dependents on renewable forms of energy to 30%. that is his goal. i embrace his goal. how to we make this happen? how can we help make it happen? mr. long: my authorities are limited to the stafford act. one of the issues we are coming into is, recognize -- we recognized image of the infrastructure in puerto rico, over 40 years average age. worldwide, the age of power plants is 18 years. there is a big discrepancy. in many cases, what we are running into is deferred maintenance issues. if you put that aside, what i have the authority to do is basically get the power back up and running to prevent further loss of life from occurring.
in regards to building more energy-efficient -- sen. carper: and more resilient. mr. long: definitely more resilient. that is probably what is needed. the authority for me to spend taxpayer dollars, i'm not sure that i have. that is something i would ask this committee to take a look at. sen. carper: general? everything you said was right. the preponderance of the power generation -- sen. carper: i rarely say everything right. most of the power generation is on the southern part of the island. the north-south transmission lines are critical. half of the power plants on puerto rico are fossil fuel. the other half, a combination of wind and solar. the department of energy has taken a hard look at that. what they have on the island now produces 5200 megawatts of power.
they really only use about half that. there is room for addressing less power plants, more efficient, that produce the right amount of power with the right type of fuel to service the requirement that exists on the island today. the department of energy has been thinking about and looking at that. they had been working closely with prepa to understand. make recommendations to the administration and congress on things like how much load do , they need, how much redundancy do they need in a system? did they build additional capabilities to balance that load across demands in the system? how do they modernize the system to include the hardening of the system to improve resilience? these are things the department of energy has ideas on that they shared with me that i know they are working up as part of a fema report that we have recommendations on the long-term solution might be for power and other things.
doe is looking at that. they have real smart guys on the ground with us. we went through the work we are doing to help guide us and make sure we're doing the right things. ultimately they are also looking at, what is the right way ahead for the future of puerto rico so they can make those informed recommendations to the leadership? sen. carper: they have some really smart guys on the ground. i would like to be able to reach out to them and talk with them. for the record we would like to ask you to provide those guys to contact them. usually it takes weeks if not months for a full assessment of damages to be made in an estimate of the total cost to rebuild. how far along are you in the process for texas, florida puerto rico, the virgin islands? ,when do you expect those complete assessments to be ready? we're expecting a third
supplemental appropriations bill. we will be making additional request to assist those communities as further assessments are completed. mr. long: first of all, i want to thank the senate and house for responding quickly to every request for emergency supplementals. my guys have been working around the clock to make sure you guys stay informed of when we're running out of disaster relief funds. we have asked for three supplementals, if i remember correctly this year alone. , in regards to where the virgin islands all the way to california -- each one of these states is in different stages. but each one is going to be a tremendous, long recovery. for example, texas and florida are focused on recovery housing, making sure we provide people
with a proper place to stay as rebuilding begins. as well as debris removal. california is in the same boat as well. there are still some sensitivities when it comes to hazardous materials. also, with rainfall, when you burned off of the vegetation, making sure we mitigate against watershed issues that come into play as well. everybody is in different stages. long-term recovery is going to be long. i do not think we have a good handle on the total cost of this. but you can be rest assured my guys will be in touch with your staff members to make sure we do not fumble the ball when it comes to disaster recovery. we will do our best to take care of taxpayer dollars every day. sen. carper: thank you. any other witnesses, please respond to the same issue, thank you. >> go ahead.
senator, i will only comment on the power grid for puerto rico. we are still assessing the damage. we got initial reports from prepa when we were given the mission assignment. we found the damages were not as great as they had originally reported. what we have to do is put people on lines and make sure that just because the line is not laying on the ground does not mean it is not operable. we are in the process of doing that now and will probably be doing that as we do the repairs for the next several weeks, we will be able to put together a much better assessment of what the overall cost to prepare a -- repair the grid to the standard we are seeking under the stafford act in very short order. senator carper: i will ask the same question. senator johnson: i will bump the questioning up to seven minutes,
and i want members and witnesses to stay within that. senator tester. senator tester: will do. i appreciate this document a lot. this is an instructive piece of information, and it is instructive because what it tells me is that we are going to continue down this road until we start looking at root causes. i know we never want to accept the fact because it is a bit uncomfortable, what we do with the changing climate, but when we had towns evacuated in montana in the middle october due to wildfire, we have major things mother nature is telling us, and if we do not address it we are not doing our fiduciary , responsibility. i want to start out by saying, brock long, i think you are doing a great job. you came in under difficult circumstances, and have been
getting pounded and pounded, and you have put your shoulder to the wheel and worked as hard as you could in a troubled -- in a very difficult situation. i want to express my appreciation. a couple things in your testimony, you talked about 3.5 cubic yards -- was that million debris?rds -- was that mr. long: it may be off. that may be an older number. the numbers have changed. senator tester: you talked about predisaster mitigation. the savings is for every one dollar in predisaster mitigation saves four bucks on the backside. i do not think we are spending enough on mitigation. i think your testimony implies that. do you have any ideas what we need to do to address this issue? mr. long: absolutely. the problem with the way the system is established is, you have to get hit to have an
extraordinary amount of grant funding. that is not the right way of doing business. i believe specifically section 404 in the stafford act dictates how money is formulated or provided for mitigation purposes. the 404 money -- it would be amazing if we could work with the senate and this committee to move that to the front side to offer up -- on average we put out $708 million in post-disaster mitigation. why are we not doing that on the front side and get it out of recovery, reduce complexities of recovery, and put it up front? i do not know what the right mix is, what the right amount of money to make a dent in it is, but it has to be money up front, but i believe the key to resiliency is held at the local level of government with elected officials -- smart land use planning, building codes, making sure are redundant systems in place.
so it is going to have to be a whole community effort on the predisaster side. but if we could move that 404 funding to the front side of disasters, and it will not be an easy move, i think it makes perfect sense and we can all agree that that is what needs to be done. senator tester: that is good, if you have any language that you could forward to this committee and the subcommittee on homeland security, i would certainly appreciate that. mr. long: absolutely. senator tester: because it is a no-brainer. major general jackson, you said you were assessing the grid in puerto rico. are you about done with that? i will ask the question, and you can tell me the answer. is it shot, 95% shot, 100%? where is it? i am talking about done start , over, rebuild?
general jackson: the answer to that is, no, it is not shot. the initial report we had was 100% of damage to distribution area the initial reports said 80% of the transmission lines were shot. 2400 miles of high-voltage -- senator tester: what do you think it is now? general jackson: i mean, literally, part of it is -- let me start by saying as i flew , over puerto rico a couple weeks ago, there are a lot of lines that are up visibly, a lot of lines that are down visibly. the problem is until you get folks on the ground to see if those lines in the components that make up the line system are operable, you do not know if the lines are energized. we are not doing a full assessment and waiting to do repairs. we already know where we need to go, what we did to focus on.
senator tester: what i'm trying to get to is this -- we were told grid in puerto rico was horrible before the storms hit. are we fixing a horrible distribution system? or are we fixing a horrible distribution system? general jackson: under the stafford act, we are fixing the system to get power out -- senator tester: so the next hurricane that hits, it is not going to knock down the same things we are back in the same , boat? general jackson: a category 4 or 5 hurricane, unless the lines are buried underground they will , be destroyed. sen. tester: even if it is new construction? mr. long: even if it is new construction. senator tester: is there any effort to talk about generation so distribution is not needed? and i'm talking about conventional generation. general jackson: my understanding is, the governor
has an interest in locating the power generation closely to the population densities they support. it would obviate the need for these long transmission lines across the island. doe has taken a look at that to put together ideas for the leadership. senator tester: i do not know if you do this or mr. -- does this, but are you looking at every option, not only carbon-based, but also solar and wind and geothermal? general jackson: my understanding is doe is looking at what the most efficient modern appropriate system would be for puerto rico to make those recommendations. senator tester: do you know anything about prepa? nobody? here is what i want to know about. it is a nine-member board that i should be tickled pink that they gave a contract to a company in montana, but if you look at the situation, two people, and in
business two years, never done disaster work before. what kind of people are on this board? no big contracts. i got to tell you something, if it was any of you guys, if it was you, brock, i would not have started out by saying you are doing a great job. i will tell you that. i do not understand what is going on and do not understand what the accountability is. we have a federal financial oversight board -- maybe they are not doing their job, but somebody is not doing their job. would you agree? i see some heads nod. senator johnson: there is a governance issue. no doubt about it. senator peters. senator peters: we may be seeing a lot more of these disasters, bigger, stronger, increased frequency.
it is important we take lessons learned and understand we are going to have to apply them going forward. mr. long, my time is short today, but i wanted to alert you i sent a letter to you yesterday. in that letter i asked a series of detailed questions about fema's response to maria and humanitarian crisis in puerto rico. i will not go into those details. the letter is going to you. i hope i had your commitment for a quick response because the select committee will have hearings. it will be helpful to frame the discussion. if i could have that letter entered into the record. mr. long: we will respond very quickly. senator peters: and as many of my colleagues have mentioned, the concern in puerto rico is we have sustainability built into any kind of response.
i know the stafford act prevents that from happening and the fact it talks about limiting the way it was in place when the disaster occurred. you alluded to that as well. do you think it is time for us to look at the stafford act? would you recommend we look at that if that makes sense given the situation we're in now, and what likely will be future situations, given climate change? mr. long: i work with my staff every day, and there are definite changes we could consider, but i would like to take the time to methodically go through those and submit those if there are recommendations, not only for my staff at fema, but the emergency management community as well. i am all for reviewing and bettering process. -- processes. there are opportunities to go through this, but rebuilding a grid to the level we are discussing is not within my
authority. and i'm concerned about the deferred maintenance issues already when it comes to restoring and conducting permanent work as it is. senator peters: i appreciate working with you on that. as we talked about, some of those disasters that may not be in the stafford act, which we had in flint, michigan. there are a lot of lessons to be learned from that disaster means , we need to take a look at the stafford act make sure americans get the help they need when disaster strikes their community. that leads to my next question which relates to the long-term nature of these disasters, especially from my experience in flint, is that aid is available when tv cameras are running. there is quite a bit of aid once public media attention is there. the challenge is when the cameras stop covering the event and these folks have deal with these disasters for many years in the future. my question is, how long do you expect fema to be working in the areas affected by these
hurricanes, and do you have the capacity to handle that workload which is going to be over the next decade or more? >> at this point, no doubt about it. when it comes to recovery staff, we are stressed. we are having to rob peter to pay paul, as you would say, from other disasters. right now we have roughly 26 open disasters we are working nationwide that do not get media coverage. so in some cases what we're trying to do is go to more virtual models and hopefully states are calling upon state to state mutual aid to manage their disasters and doing things more virtually. with regard to these recent four events, from the california wildfires to the three major events it is going to take many , years to go through. in some cases when it goes back to your questions on the stafford act, have section 428 that allows us to move in a more expedited manner and in a more
resilient manner. but we have to make decisions whether or not the program is working. it does reduce the sheer number of project worksheets we have to generate, and allows us to do work more efficiently. i would like to continue going down that path. but take a comprehensive look at how we get locals and state government to make sure their funding for staff positions is adequate. when it comes to future grants, i would rather have grants to hire and train proper staffing than to buy equipment, and there may be people who disagree, but you cannot replace human beings, and that is what we need when it comes to the large amount of disasters we are facing. senator peters: with these large disasters, i know it is early to get a sense of what the cost will be, which will be large. and you have referred to the fact it is an ongoing process. withave any indication
regard to the hurricanes, how do costs stack up? how do you rank them? >> there are 2 1/2 million people in florida entered into individual assistance. harvey, still under a when you million. look at the impacts to housing, the amount of money it would cost to fix flood-based housing issues is going to be tremendously more expensive than what we may see in florida. california is -- i have never seen a more disturbing disaster in my life, and i think they lost 6800 homes in that. each one is tremendously different and the cost will vary based on what the services are. as overall cost, i have heard we're probably spending $200 million a day responding to the four disasters we are facing.
senator peters: in terms of hurricanes, what will be the most expensive for us and the , second-most? i have heard texas will be number one? mr. long: probably texas -- i do not know, i would take that back, because we're not done with puerto rico. we are still trying to uncover that. i would believe right now texas is probably the most expensive one. but here again that is a pure guess, and we still have numbers coming in. senator peters: with long-term funding we have to have local government, state government engaged, and they need to make plans for long-term investments to recover and make sure they are sustainable. but it is difficult for them to do that without knowing the amount of money that is available, isn't it? mr. long: absolutely. here again, the money comes mostly, the majority of the funding states interact from fema is on the recovery and.
that goes back to the predisaster mitigation point. how do you plan to implement mitigation strategies when you have to get hit and you are not sure how much money you're going to come into based on the type of disaster? that is what i think we have to preplan, take it out of recovery and put it up front see you can do better visionary planning over the next couple years to truly mitigate your communities. senator peters: thank you. senator johnson: senator harris? senator harris: thank you for this hearing i appreciate the , administrator speaking of california. the hearing is not about wildfires, but i would like to urge that we do everything we can to, as you appreciate, we lost 42 lives in california, and the estimate is that we lost 8900 homes and structures. on that point, from fema, you are doing a great job, the army corps of engineers. i was there, i met with the
families and you're absolutely right. it is devastating to those families in that community. in terms of fema, there is still a need and i will put this on , your radar for individual assistance to help cover temporary housing you mentioned , it is a big issue, and certainly in california with affordable housing, and fema does not have the number of trailers and they are not on the production line in a way we can get them to california as soon as they are needed. so there is still a need for temporary housing, help, and basic essentials like clothing and baby formula. and hud, funding for permanent housing is a big issue. crop insurance from usda. and from the sba, we need business loans for businesses that have been destroyed. on october 27 through the environmental public works committee which i am also on, we
send a letter to fema and the epa in the army corps of engineers asking for information about a timeline and the work that has been completed or is yet to be done as it relates to debris. i would like to get an answer to that, and if we could get that within the next week, i would appreciate that. there are about seven specific questions. as you are aware and has been mentioned, there are millions of cubic feet of debris in puerto rico. it is my understanding that we are looking at debris that is large. it ranges from rooftops to garage doors to refrigerators and couches, debris that people who live there cannot pick up and move. there has also been a compromise to the landfills in puerto rico that existed before the hurricanes hit and remain a problem. it is my understanding that fema plans to remove the debris, but i am not clear on what the timeline is for actually getting
that completed. can you tell me? >> each one of the events is extraordinarily different. and there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to debris removal. the california wildfires, if i may use that as an example, because of the nature of the hazard, you first have to go through and make sure you remove all the hazardous materials from personal property. then obviously, as you said, the number of deaths is projected to go up over 80 and that is because we are still searching for remains in a humane manner, trying to make sure we go through the debris to find remains in the burned area. after that, the environmental piece is done, we go through to look for remains. a lot of the debris contracting is done at the local level. if those contracts fail, and the governor requests me specifically, we can assign the army corps of engineers, which i
believe you have been assigned to in california, some also to puerto rico. debris in florida was done differently. a majority of that was done at the local level by debris contracts they established. each one of these may have different timelines because of the type of debris. senator harris: what is the timeline for puerto rico? >> i do not have an exact timeline. we just started scratching the service on debris removal, and we have run into some interesting politics within the municipalities that make up puerto rico in terms of how they are allowing us to gain access. so we are in some significant negotiations. many municipalities have said we do not want you to do it, we will take care of it ourselves, so we are going through that right now. i will respond to the letter you sent. senator harris: if you can follow up on this plan about what jurisdictions within puerto rico are hesitant to cooperate with your efforts, so that we
can make sure that we do our part to figure out how to get some cooperation. general jackson: we will do that, senator. senator harris: my understanding is that the debris piles, that they are wet from recent rains. they are tracking pests that range from rodents to mosquitoes, and there is also concerned that the pets that are going there and rodents that are going there are leaving great amounts of urine, that is also seeping into the waterways. can you talk about the health risks associated with this accumulating debris? dr. kadlec: there are several issues that have to be done with. one is the moldy kind of debris you would be anticipating. fungal growth is causing exacerbations for respiratory diseases like asthma. you would also be concerned about the immunosuppressant effects of fungal growths, particularly with
immunocompromised situations. the biggest concern is you have people climbing on them, rooting around in them. so there are lacerations, soft tissue injuries. sen. harris: and bacterial diseases. dr. kadlec: yes. the last one you mentioned, and i will mention, is leptospirosis, which is endemic to puerto rico. typically during the rainy season, august through there december, have been some cases that have been defined or declared, and a couple of deaths suspected with of that. it is a disease that is remedied by antibiotic therapy. about a week after the landfall of the hurricane, we were working with the state epidemiologist, and everything we do is in support of the health department of puerto rico, making sure they have courses of treatment to treat to -- anticipated levels of leptospirosis and other bacterial infections.
typically leptospirosis occurs , in a couple hundred cases of year. we expect that to go higher than that because of the nature of the events. we provided several thousands of courses of treatment for puerto rico. beyond those kinds of circumstances, you would be concerned about tetanus. we have made available tetanus vaccines through cdc and also made available environmental 24 health departments to work with of the department of puerto rico, as well as epidemiologists to track not only these kind of environmental hazards, but also cases that would be associated with this. senator harris: i would like as a follow-up from each person information from people drinking water from superfund sites. because of their desperation to get drinking water. obviously there are huge health risks associated with that.
senator johnson: senator langford. senator langford: thank you for being here and giving us a chance to walk us through this. i want to go through this in a short period of time. mr. long, this goes back to the preparation side of this. the flood insurance program in 2012 required a report every six months on how we're doing on the debt, what is happening, what process do we have to be able to work out of the flood insurance debt. the previous administration just stop doing that report at the end of last year. we do not have it for two years. it made it difficult coming into this year and dealing with flood issues when we do not have a report for the last two years. do you know when that is going to restart, and i understand in the chaos of trying to go with what is happening currently, it will be behind again, but you know where it is in the process? mr. long: i do not, but we will follow up with you. senator langford: you mentioned about trying to interact with private entities on flood
insurance. do you have specific ideas about that? mr. long: the nfip program is underneath my authority. i am not an insurance expert when it comes to fixing that. going into harvey, if i remember correctly, and this is give or take, a couple million here, we were $24 billion in debt, and any time you have a massive event, katrina send it into debt harvey, irma will send it into , further debt which you guys have a recognized. we have to fix the business framework and it has to involve a solution from the private sector. i think the private sector should drive a lot of the market. if we are going to continue to reward bad behavior by building in flood zones, then there needs to be an actuarial risk. i understand the affordability issues, but i also believe we cannot continue to allow conducting business under the
same framework and continue to go into debt. to run a program that goes into debt. i know what i do not know and i i know we need private sector to support. senator langford: let's work our way through this. we need some help to be able to sit down and be able to figure this out. we have ideas that we are bringing to the practitioners. we got to deal with outside private sector insurance. we do not want to create a situation where private sector create insurance policies and as soon as they have claims, they walk away from it. that does not help those individuals or the federal government. it have to be ways to establish backstops that will work long term and provide affordability. i would like to make in the days ahead we will try to get ideas worked up and look at a long-term plan. that will not be a year to resolve. it will be a decade or more, but we got get started. with fema, there has been interaction, and i will not press you on this because we talked about it before.
all of those are nonprofits. but houses of worship cannot engage in the same way. i feel like reading the law, when congress said that nonprofits would be included, that is all nonprofits. and i will continue this conversation in the days ahead with you on that. it has been pushed back which is reasonable to be able to ask that question on it. general jackson, your family is doing good? general jackson: yes sir. senator langford: good to see you, sir. you mentioned a comment about half of the power generation in puerto rico is from wind and solar and half of that is from fossil fuels. did i hear that correctly?
general jackson: yes, senator. senator langford: what remains, what is working, what is redeemable of that? general jackson: i was surprised when i flew over the renewable sites, the solar and the wind, that the blades of the wind farms were snapped off, and the solar panels were all smashed. an actual power plant that held up the best was a typical standard power plant, the natural gas or coal-fired or heavy diesel or what have you. the structures themselves held up better than the renewables did. senator langford: part of the conversation we have to have is to look at resiliency long term. i want to look at all of those things as we go through the process and i will have a common conversation to be able to figure out how we get them back in place. i am asking a question i know is unfair, so i will tell you
upfront. we're all concerned about why puerto rico did not choose to do mutual aid for their power recovery reconstruction. in texas, they did it, florida did. other groups did. what have you been told why they did not do that? you cannot tell me why. i am only asking, what have you been told why they did not ask for mutual aid, and, mr. long, you are also asked the question. general jackson? general jackson: they did outreach at some point for mutual aid, but because it is a cost-shared arrangement and puerto rico is in the financial situation they are in, that utility companies were hesitant to engage because there was no guarantee of cost-share payment. that changed when the cost-share arrangement was weighed, and they reengaged, by that time
prepa had already reached out and engaged with the solar cell contract, and that is how that was started. that is what i was told through multiple sources, i do not have authority -- senator langford: mr. long, is that the same thing? mr. long: general jackson is correct, and i agree with him. any companies are not willing to engage unless they are guaranteed 100%. i spoke to the governor yesterday. they are going to reengage the process for power support. i think specifically they are having conversations with florida and new york, and the goal is that my federal officer has requested that prepa make sure that we are unified with the army corps so we're not working in separate streams, working together in a consolidated effort. senator langford: i have another question that is a process issue, so you are putting to the
army corps of engineer's data contracts. what i would be interesting to know is the contracting process, which one takes longer, which one has greater cost? at times there is overlap. at what level are the able to hand that off? that will be important to know because those are federal dollars there. >> we do not typically contract to rebuild power grids. we mission assigned the army corps of engineer who assigns the contracts directly to get the job done. the best-case scenario is the example of florida. florida power and light controlled their destiny when it comes to restoring their power grid, and fema serves in a supportive role to reimburse those actions. senator langford: my question
will be on all contracts, whether debris removal. when we hire individual contractors, who handles that more efficiently, how does that work, and which one takes longer? senator johnson: senator heitkamp. senator heitkamp: thank you to my colleague from new hampshire for letting me go first. i have a few questions about the navy ship comfort. and according to the department of defense, the comfort as one of the largest trauma facilities in the united states. it is equipped as well as any kind of hospital can be equipped. it is capable of treating 200 patients per day with 250 beds available. yet we hear over again that there are people going without medical treatment. despite that capability and the staff of over 800 trained personnel, comfort has treated only 100 patients 17 days after arriving on october 3 and 30
days after hurricane maria made landfall. how many patients have been treated on the comfort so far that you are familiar with, and can you elaborate the challenges we have had getting patients to the comfort? dr. kadlec: the last count was 121 as a result, but before you make a judgment on that, let me explain the approach using the comfort as it related to its high-acuity capabilities, which you are correct in saying 200 beds, but more importantly, there are 50 intensive care units on that boat. that was the capability we need to because quite frankly if you look at the events on the island, we have a level one trauma center, which was the east side of the island. senator heitkamp: how many patients treated aboard the comfort were icu? dr. kadlec: over 60, and we use
that as an intensive care unit as the basis -- senator heitkamp: so it is your judgment the comfort has been fully utilized for the needed puerto rico? dr. kadlec: it covered a critical need we had which was based on hospitals would lose power, as the majority of them, in fact, all of them were on a generator for a time. now they are 70% back on the grid. but when the hospitals were on generators when the risk of failure, we could put the backup generators, we used the comfort as a place where we could take high-acuity patients, transport them by helicopter -- senator heitkamp: i get that, but anybody who looks at this, and maybe it is the news, and i will turn to you, administrator long, there is this huge -- medical needs, people going without treatment, people have risk of losing their life.
we have this incredible asset. this is an island. it is not like the united states of america where you might have something like 3000 miles away. why does it seem to be to me underutilized? mr. long: i present the question. i understand the frustrations the goal always anytime you move medical fragile people, patients, hospital, you take a risk of them surviving that moved to begin with. the goal is to stabilize the situation in the hospitals. there was a tremendous effort to do that, because what we ran into was not only hospitals operating without power, making sure the generators worked on getting its fuel on a regular basis, and the maintenance of the generator. these generators are not designed to run for months. we initiated the comfort, and, bob, you could talk about the timeline it takes to do that. it is an eight-day process even turn the keys on, get everybody
staffed to mobilize, and go to the island. it is a long process, but we basically set up a 911 system to where in two or three cases a hospital generator would fail, we would move the most medically fragile patients to the comfort. i would argue it was being utilized very well, and the goal is trying to get the hospitals to operate. we are going to be second-guessed on everything, but try to get the hospitals to operate and serve patients. senator heitkamp: administrator long, i know senator tester hit on this, but one of the concerns i've have given what has now landed on your plate is all of our talk about mitigation, all our talk about preparedness, will take a backseat to just dealing with the disasters you have been handed. we know based on experiences with katrina, with sandy, this
is not we are here for a month and then we leave. what are you going to do or what regulations would you make to us in terms of staffing so that you have the capability of actually looking at mitigation and not just dealing with a crisis? mr. long: sure, and my staff, coordinating two federal departments, tens of thousands of people have been deployed. if you look at the number deployed starting with harvey, it has been unprecedented. i feel like we are losing a lot of the successes that have been implemented as a result of the post-katrina emergency management reform act. a lot of things went right, a lot of things went right. so that we do not lose puerto rico, i plan to do an after-action report to make sure we understand where we are versus where we need to become a specifically when it comes not only to puerto rico, but island
territories. i want to hit the reset button. with regard to staff specifically, i would like to change the entire hiring process of fema to adopt a more fbi-style academy approach. i would like to expand my staff out of those offices to the states and islands to make sure we are part of the discussion every day. senator heitkamp: you receive an incredible amount of bipartisan support because we understand the role you played in katrina. we hope you will be equally critical of the work you have done as administrator, that you will also collaborate with us in terms of what you need. i think senator tester said it best. you cannot look at this and understand this continues. and think we do not have a huge challenge where we need to look at all hands on deck, what are the requirements that we want to impose on states so that they understand what their role is going to be so they are not overly dependent on the federal government, that this work -- i look forward to additional
conversations with you and understanding what you need, but we cannot give you what you need if you do not ask. mr. long: and we will be happy to put that ask together, and if i may, each citizen is responsible for their own individual preparedness. we do not have a true culture of preparedness in this country, and we need to hit the reset button and look at how we partner with the department of education and give people critical skills. according to the red cross, one in four of us will have to perform cpr to someone else at any given time. are we giving those people those boy scout-type skills as well as tangible things to understand they may be the true first responder for an active shooter event or your neighbor's house has collapsed upon them? many times citizens are the first true responder, and we have to start dedicating our public awareness and cultural awareness campaigns to doing that as well as figuring out
what the states need. senator heitkamp: i cannot agree with you more. thank you for your hard work and all of you working under difficult circumstances. we hope congress can be an effective partner for you. senator johnson: senator heitkamp, one of the actions i'm taking away from here is literally state by state, territory by territory assessment, who has prepared themselves, what is the current state so we can determine something in mitigation. we will follow that up. senator heitkamp: the flood was a devastating event. we pulled our disaster plan, blew the dust off it, and realized we needed to take that process more seriously. nothing like a state disaster the caliber of this to realign all our thinking. senator johnson: we will work with you on that. senator hassan? senator hassan: thank you very much, mr. chairman, and thank you for the work you do on behalf of our country.
we're very grateful. i have three basic questions, i will try to move through them quick so we can get to all of them. administrator long, i wanted to thank you for being here today and also for briefing several centers on september 28 when you updated us on relief efforts. on this call is said airports and seaports were heavily damaged. at the road networks were in many cases impassible and that you lacked trucks and personnel to the able to effectively distribute the relief supplies you had waiting on pallets. when did fema and the department of defense verse make the assessment that the damage to the airports and seaports would encumber the delivery every supplies? mr. long: almost immediately, and that was the complexity of being able to put forth the humanitarian mission, what was also damaged, the air
traffic control systems that guide those in. senator hassan: when did you make the decision that you needed the military to distribute those things, and when did you ask defense for the type of assets that were invited? mr. long: i may defer here, but let me be clear. we engaged the department of defense before maria hit. there were a ton of assets on the island before the storm hit. you can only put so many people and equipment on an island or you exposed to the storm and it becomes useless after the fact. it is a balancing game, but if i may defer -- sure. senator hassan: make sure your microphone is on first.
>> we had dot assets in the area. senator hassan: i will interact. on the september 28 call, the representatives stated the northern command was working on a plan to mobilize an additional sustainment forced the puerto rico. that is eight days after the hurricane hit. according to fema's website, on october 1, u.s. northern command delivered approximately 310,000 meals and water, generators, sustainment units, and leading component of aviation command and control. given that it was apparent from fema and dod assessment that both airports and seaports of puerto rico heavily damaged and that this had caused immense distribution challenges, why did it take until october 1 to deliver aviation command and control, and why on the call on the 28th was northern command still finalizing its plans?
>> there is concurrent activity always in these events. we had navy ships in the area. they have helicopters. they were doing search and rescue capabilities. responsible for strategic airlift, was providing planes and flying in assessment teams for airfields. a number of those airfields had severe damage, no navigation aids, no radar, and data equipment had been put in place. this was happening before the 28th. i do not know where the impression got -- senator hassan: the impression came from the call on september 28. all of us are concerned that eight days after the hurricane
hit it seemed like we were still having to suggest that the united states military was going to be necessary to help get some supplies to shoot it because of the impossibility of transportation infrastructure. i do because i have a couple minutes left i want to move on to one of the questions to administrator long. last week pro publica posted a story that stated fema was the climbing to publicly release a document drafted several years ago that detailed how fema would respond to a major hurricane in puerto rico. according to pro public, fema started drafting the plans, known as the hurricane annex, after the lacks preparation in the wake of hurricane katrina. found similar plans on a website for hawaii that detailed a process restore electricity on
in the event of a hurricane. why is fema not releasing this document to the public, and could you please commit to making a public, and if not, would you please articulate what was in the hurricane annex and what steps you followed in the aftermath of hurricane maria? mr. long: sure, senator. we gave it to the committee last night, apparently. i was unaware of the issue. senator hassan: thank you very much, and in that case, i will before yielding back the remainder of my time let you all know that -- well, actually, we have a minute, so instead of giving this to the record, i did want to touch on the u.s. virgin islands and where we are in terms of power restoration and tourism because perhaps even more so than puerto rico, the u.s. region islands economy fundamentally depends on the ability of the islands to host tourists. island suffered a direct hit
from maria and irma as well. these storms knocked out the power across the islands in the islands cannot expect to begin to reestablish its tourism economy without the restoration of power. after more than a month, u.s. islands report that less than 1/3 of the territory has power up and running. what steps are fema and dod taking to restore power to the u.s. virgin islands, and what is fema's estimate when 100% of the island will have power? >> the bottom line is they are in the same approach, but there are two different approaches to restore power to the island. where we proactively pushed forward the army corps of engineers in puerto rico, the authority that represents the virgin islands is conducting their own contracts and leading their power restoration. if the last number i saw was that power should be restored by
december timeframe as well, here again, that is an estimate. senator hassan: thank you for your participation. i appreciate it very much. senator johnson: let me brief you on what i know about that report you have referenced. the annex owned by fema and the state and puerto rico. it was not released because puerto rico did not give fema permission to share with the media. we will be happy to share with you the document, but until puerto rico agrees, it will not be released to the public. senator hassan: i will follow up with you further. senator daines: thank you for testifying today, and, mr. long, thank you again. i got to tell you, folks in eastern montana are very grateful with the fact that you listened to our pleas when we had a devastating wildfire that
took out much of garfield county. sometimes we see the criteria with dealing with a rural environment, which much of montana is, can be different when a disaster hits one of our urban centers, and i want to thank you for your responsiveness and for your action for the folks out in eastern montana. they appreciate it a lot. we had a terrible wildfire season in montana this past summer. secretary perdue list it the most expensive wildfires in the nation. we spent over $2 billion fighting wildfires this season, and it is not over yet. the number one fire was in montana. the number for three fire was in montana in terms of dollars.
one of those terrible seasons, and thank you, mr. long, for what you did in response to help us in montana. much of the discussion today has been on puerto rico and the devastating hurricane and the loss of the grid. mr. long, i was a bit surprised when i heard the story of the small contractor of two people most have never heard of, including myself, being awarded a contract that is worth $300 million to rebuild puerto rico's power grid. in the contract, the power authority, prepa, claimed it met all the guidelines and regulations set forth by fema and it had been reviewed also by fema.
would you explain fema's involvement in the contract process and how you monitor federal dollars before they are allocated? mr. long: let me be clear. the contract was not a fema contract. prepa entered into the contract in late september. there is no lawyer inside fema that would have agreed to that contract to begin with. let me be clear about that. we raised red flag in saying we're not sure this is a sole source contract or competitive rate. there were many things wrong. there was language that would suggest the government would never audit whitefish, which is there never a lawyer in fema that would agree to that type of language. the bottom line is as i understand, not one dollar has gone towards that contract from fema, and what we are doing is
rectifying to make sure that prepa has not requested any funding for that reimbursement effort. we have a lot of work to do when it comes to grant monitoring at all levels of government. it is not just fema, but it is in the state and local government when it comes to the guarantees that are there. we asked them to always follow predisaster bid laws and policies, because when you change the policies after a disaster, it will hang you up in an audit. he asked them to follow law when it comes to the procurement process according to 2cfr. we have a lot of work to do when it comes to ensuring the grant monitoring, but in that case it was not our contract. senator daines: i will be interested in learning about that situation and how we can improve that process. it is always one of the concerns when we have a disaster that we want to move quickly, people are dying, but we also want to make sure we are accountable, efficient, and there is
oftentimes opportunity for tremendous amount of waste in a situation where it is sometimes billions of dollars in these disasters. i will look forward to learn what you learn from that, mr. long. senator johnson: senator peters? senator peters: mr. long, one of my constituents volunteered to the afl-cio to provide assistance in puerto rico. he was there from october 4 to the 18th. and he said the citizens remarked how grateful they were for the assistance provided by his group because no one else seemed to be there, was at least his experience on the ground. i know a group of national nurses united had a similar experience and made some of the same comments to me.
it seems to be a common perception that assistance was not reaching the people in need in puerto rico, that there were distribution problems, that stuff may have gone to distribution centers, but was not getting to the individuals. my question is, why are we hearing that from volunteers, and do you believe that was an issue? mr. long: i cannot speak to the constituents' criticisms, but i can explain the logistics in terms of difficulties getting meals and water out. all the ports were damaged. it took this time not only to build the air traffic control system, open up the ports. we pre-staged quite a of food before the storm. only so much can stay on the island. we checked with the governor and the schools, the food they had, we tried to put as much food forward as possible before the
storm hit. when it came to the diminished capacity, obviously the state and local governments, they were disaster survivors. as we begin to push in the food to the island, we had to quickly mobilize 10 regional distribution hubs where we would fly at them, set up and stage all the commodities, and forced the food and water to each one of these distribution hubs. we had two centers communicating with all 78 mayors because there were certain no survivable coms that were there, making sure we got commodities to them. if they cannot get it to the final mile, then we would drop it. there were isolation issues. i do not know how many isolation-based airdrops were there, but they are continuing today. did we get to everybody? hard to say.
hard to say. part of it was the ability that people were not sure where to go. what i saw with my own eyes, i went to the central portion of the mountainous regions, where some of the folks were being resilient and they are not choosing to come to the areas where food and water is. so the bottom line is i know this is one of that -- and i feel certain this is probably one of the largest unitarian dishes we have ever conducted -- humanitarian missions that we've ever conducted in the united states. there are tens of millions of meals and water that have been pushed. i have also asked the office of inspector general to look at how our commodities were used as some of the mayors as well, and the fbi may be looking at that as well. senator daines: i appreciate your candor. i know this was incredibly difficult task you were involved in. i appreciate your efforts on that. you have been candid in this
hearing today and that is refreshing, because we celebrate what we did right and learn from our mistakes to be ready for the future. what would be your assessment in puerto rico on a scale from one to 10 in your expert capacity as to fema's ability to meet the disaster. mr. long: we have a lot of work to do. i want to happen after-action. i want to figure out the grant funding that went to fema -- puerto rico. what did we get in return of that? i want to make sure the commodity capabilities are too small. how do we set up island territories to be more self-sufficient that does not require and massive mission to fly these things in? i will come back to change the way we do business in the future.
i do not to go through this event again as much as anybody else. senator daines: i asked one to 10, and that may be tough. for the average per to reagan, rican,he average puerto how would they rate the federal government's response. on a one to 10, what would they say? mr. long: with all due respect, people have different expenses. i'm not interested in giving myself a grade. that would be the only thing that the media would pick up today. could we have done better, did we move as fast as people would want? obviously, in some cases, no, but if you look in "the miami herald," the state representative rivera, read his assessment and talk to the mayors, talk to the 78 mayors and get your assessment from them, please, because for me to sit back and say we did
things perfectly, i know we did not. of course, there is things i wish had gone better or things i had known going into that event obviously, but the bottom line is that i know at the end of the day we pushed as hard as we could, our partners percent -- our partners pushed as hard as we could, and we moved as fast as the situation allowed, and this was one of the most logistically complex disasters this nation has faced. senator daines: you talk about talking to local mayors, lead into a question i have. isabella county in midland county michigan experienced catastrophic flooding this summer and one of the long list of issues that were on your plate this year. from county administrators, emergency responders and infected constituents that they were appreciative of the work that reminded to help them in responding to that fling -- that
fema did to help them in responding to that flooding. experience, upfront coordination with local authorities can go a long way to facilitate that kind of response. that is what i heard from my folks in michigan. although, again, being supportive of your efforts, but thinking that was a lack in fema's efforts in coordination with local officials. what do you think we can do to better that type of corporate of effort. >> i would like to expand our footprint. i would like to change our footprint and graduating on the regional offices. i would like to develop what we call stay integration teams are multifaceted, working with the state everyday and being able to drive out to your local counties and doing things such as approving mitigation plans without having it come all the way through the region or a orders. i'd like to change the
workforce. . i would like to make a reservist cadre more in line with what the is, sol guard approach you can have a full-time job, step away from your job to support fema in a disaster job.ut losing that daytime i would like to change our entire workforce program to be more like an f ei model, -- fbi model. we are the only agency that doesn't have academy-style graduation through our system that understands all aspects of this program. i am frustrated by our hiring process. i would like to reread the book on how we do that and how we maintain and utilize disaster reservists, who are critically important to our mission. senator daines: i look forward to working with you. one of the concerns i have, listening to the dialogue, is i don't want to see fema be the primary responder here.
i believe the role is to support state and local governments, to support them. the more we expect out of fema, first of all, we will spend them center.d them and now you will have a one-size-fits-all model and the government will have to decide where these all have to be deployed ahead of time. states and local governments need to understand that. they need to be held responsible as well. we need to be very careful as we go down this road and say, why didn't fema do the job perfectly and listen to people's complaints. they didn't coordinate as well as we like to. fema's role is to be subordinate to them. i have only one other point to make. we have so much food stops --
foodstuffs in puerto rico. on fema and rely the federal government to rely on meals, we will not have the private sector firing back up and having grocery stores operating properly. long: the goal is to get the retail industry back up and running. the last number i saw was roughly 90%. obviously, as the retail industry comes up, we should be drawing down on the commodity mission. in many cases, the mayors have asked us to stop the flow of food, that continue the water issues until the water system is fully back online. so it is a constant communication battle everyday -- not battle, constant communication everyday with the news to understand what the need is and where the private sector market is. as we go forward, we have to form bonds with the private sector and understand the not only insee this
puerto rico but in california or florida or texas, and say here's where the market is. this is where the gas stations are coming online, so we can tether the response day in and day out. senator johnson: federal emergency management agency, it is not federal recovery, not long-term recovery. there were -- there will be other agencies, but baltimore more state and local will take up the responsibility of recovering in their local jurisdictions. whatr harper: to follow on the gentleman to say, last hundred years, 33 category 5 hurricanes, this fall, two within a matter of weeks of one another. a very instructive chart that indicates what is happening in terms of frequencies, this kind of crazy weather that we are
faced with. this is shared responsibility. i would feel that we had failed in her responsibilities collectively if we simply grid inan electric puerto rico that is just as vulnerable, just as energy and that is just as the -- just as polluted as what they faced in the past decades. i think we have missed an opportunity. the little firefights about his or her weight. fema is punching above its weight.
i think the grade is probably incomplete, as there is plenty of work still to do. i think you know that. -- i am the only democrat i know that quotes richard nixon. richard nixon used to say that the only people who don't make mistakes or people who don't do anything. we are not perfectionists. though we want to head in that direction, whether we sit on the side of the dais or your side. we talked about the interaction between the state and local folks in fema. this is one sure question for long, butistrator there is feedback that there has been a disconnect between the government of puerto rico and various contractors on the ground regarding roles and responsibilities, who is doing
what activity. i don't think that is totally surprising. . aat are you doing to ensure cohesive effort the supports the governor of puerto rico is also in charge of dust who is ultimately in charge of recovery efforts? mr. long: the communication is what is needed to succeed. --peak to governor a sale io several times a week. i have to rely on federal .oordinating officers michael byrne is my federal coordinating officer. he is appointed by the president. so i have federal coordinating officers over every disaster that i stay in touch with, but i also reach out to the governor. every day that man goes to work, try and to do the best you can
for puerto rico and i have great respect for the governor and what he is tried to do and were through. he is facing the most complex disaster of many of them. the communication is good. i set up every command on site and allow decisions to be made on site, rather than all the way ack here in d.c. decisions have to be made where the disaster is, not here. carper: i see people who have gone off to do great things and i say they had great credit -- they had the right parents. i want to ask one question for each of you. and then i'm done. the question is this. that folksne thing on our side of the aisle, those
that we serve in the senate and house, one thing we need to be doing to enable you and your weends to do a better job in will start with mr. cavett. are you an air force academy graduate? mr. cavett: yes, i am. i think one of the issues that came up was about streamlining activities.d for the health care, we talk about minutes and hours, depending life and death decisioning. one of the areas that congress should look at is dependencies. dependencies affect all what makes more streamlined, what makes it more efficient, most importantly effective. those are the areas i would identify as most important. general jackson: thanks for the question. since we have spoken mostly about the power grid restoration, that is where my comment would in front to if
congress can decide what in looks like, there's multiple requirements that could be out there, multiple things i can be done. like and instant look what the core is doing and whoever will do in terms of what the power generation will look like, the turn national transmission lines all will look like, being able to craft what instant looks like with the resources to match would be my recommendation. >> i was a continue to support the men and women in uniform. as you know, the number of navy [indiscernible] that made a huge difference. and that is to continue.
to them atper: i say the end of those conversations, different uniforms, same team and it's a great team. long: for the entire country, i think survivable communications is something that we need to address in the private sector. we become more and more rollable everyday is again to digital networks. have redundant systems are mitigated systems designed to handle all hazards, then it creates panic. seen, we basically went through a complete and total communication background for s blackout for an island and there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation. that is incredibly frustrating. internally, do more mitigation
and the disaster relief fund. sen. carper:: thank you. senator johnson. there are several factors in the -- atic increase in -- i won'tis that say the word abdication, but certainly local and state authorities are happy to have the federal government spend their money and be responsible for a greater share of these things that occur within their states. but again, i want to thank all of you. i think your efforts have been extraordinary. i would give you a pretty high-grade, personally. again, this is unprecedented what has happened here. you get 51 inches in any place, there is no one to plan for that. that will create a lot of
destruction. you get category five hurricanes going over an entire island, even one in the caribbean that is used to hurricanes, that is going to cause disaster. you don't just snap your fingers and alleviate open and suffering. i think the men and women who have worked with you have done an extra new job. i thank all of you. forrecord will remain open 15 days until november 15, five :00 p.m. for the submission of statements and questions. this hearing is adjourned. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017]
that6100 miles of cable the puerto rico power authority did not have, but is essential to get power restoration. [indiscernible] >> if the mutual assistance agreements have been invoked, no one would have come to us. we didn't do power restoration in texas, florida or the u.s. because theds assistance -- mutual assistance agreements are executed. there was a need and fema asked us to do it and give us the authority to do it in the funding that goes with it to put resources in place to help. there is a lot of work. if you take a look at, for .nstance, by comparison'
in 50 days, they had 553 linemen. hit the 50-day mark, we will have 640 linemen on the ground. that will be, let, next weekend, weekend after that, to include everything we have already done with temporary power. if you compare island nation versus island nation, mutual assistance versus support contract, we are not that far off. i'm just not sure with the expectation is. you can't compare definitely >> your commander said they may have 50% up to a year. the governor wants 95%. there's obviously a difference of those regarding the establishment [indiscernible] difference between goals and reality. we support the governor. we want to restore power as fast as possible. but the reality is we cannot restore 95% of the grid by the 15th of december.
his number one goal was 30% by the end of october. that has been achieved, largely because of the network that -- has been doing, with some input from the corps of engineers, line capability and the grid. the next goal is 50% by the end of november. the administration has given the corps of engineers that as an objective, as a goal. so we will do everything we can to get that. i think if possible, but i don't know until we get enough people online to be able to understand if we can actually achieve that goal or not. but comparison, in the u.s. virgin islands hit by irma on the sixth of september, they believe they won't have 90% done until december. for's a full 45 days longer that type than what we have in puerto rico and puerto rico is -- than whatarger, we have in puerto rico.
it is extensively larger. we are committed in the army corps to work with pepa. we all work for governor ros ello. as fast as we can, given the contract was a we have. we are looking at every option we have to increase that, quick and the timeline for deployment and increase the capacity of the numbers to get folks out on those lines. kind of delays will be closed by revoking the contract of what fish? fish?th white >> i don't know. there are not any delays for anything that i am responsible for all. -- responsible for.
what they are predominately working on is for north-south transmission lines, to bring the power to san juan, one of the most critical arteries for high-voltage power from the southern part of the island to the northern part of the island, where the people are. that we will figure out a way. epa and thek with pr department of energy. we have yet other details to work out after we bring in additional capability and caps on we have or other contracts to be able to offset the losses. >> do you think there is a need charge.erson in ? what i have been listening to from companies and government officials is that they have a different person deciding what to do.
prepa, now maybe the oversight board, the corps of engineers. goals andhave our own responsibilities. the governor in puerto rico is in charge. the corps of engineers is a force provider. the department of energy tovides assistance to prepa make sure that we are meeting the requirements that the commonwealth has. and fema is the overall umbrella that makes sure that we stay within the authorities that we have to make -- to do the work that we have to do in puerto rico. so the governor is in charge. we are there as part of famous team and support of him. so there is no concern over the chain of command. if they had mean, activated the nuclear agreement, the federal government would not have to be the one bringing in the polls and the wires and all of that? i wanted to make sure that i understood that right. >> if the government of puerto
rico had activated the mutual assistance agreements, the corps of engineers would not be doing anything about our normal temporary emergency power mission, which is generators and assessments. >> [indiscernible] >> don't put words in my mouth. >> and just asking. >> i'm just telling you the options that were there and the decisions that were made. the cost until this moment -- the repair process, do you have an idea how much has been does you or has been contracted at this moment? any ballpark number? has givenber of fema me is 557 million dollars. we have awarded a number of contracts.
they have not exceeded that. should we determine with fema there is a need to increase that, we will go through the right process with fema and get the right approvals to increase that cost. this is based on our initial assessment of what we know. we have folks out assessing damages right now. and some cases, it is not as bad as we thought it was, and others we will probably find out it is worse than we thought it was. until then, we won't have it a real clear picture to answer the question to you have. think by november, do you -- maybe, no. >> the governor stated he wanted to have 30% done by the end of october. >> the administration had agreed and 50% by the%