tv House Education Subcommittee Hearing on Disaster Response Part 1 CSPAN June 6, 2019 6:48am-9:13am EDT
response and recovery from natural disaster. opening statements are limited to the chair and the ranking member to hear from our witnesses sooner and allow the members adequate time to ask questions. this hearing was scheduled before we knew it would be a short week. votes will be called at ten. then every witness can testify. and ford opening statement i recognize myself. and with that response with natural disasters of diverse challenges facing on the road
to recovery. what has gone right what has gone wrong for the sake of our children and it is a question of when, not if. and to share those harrowing experiences with natural disasters. also with the role of just last october of the northern district of the northern marianas to be the most powerful storm in the world since 1935 to have minimal media coverage although i do
appreciate the phone call from the school's teachers and students. by releasing one.1 million in january to the public school system and much more federal support for those school facilities whose campus was totally destroyed despite being displaced and to be inspired by the strength the perseverance is receiving their diplomas next week and to serve their country and the military. in the high school students
with the congressional challenge for the second year in a row and this year and then to show the strength of the people that devastated the island the us virgin islands also devastated hurricane irma in 2017 and the us virgin islands then over one year later with technological infrastructure. then to extend an invitation. >> and to approve funding of the virgin island but that
disaster relief ending also on our country to be devastated by natural disasters ravaged by the worst wildfire in history of 20000 homes cutting off access for students two weeks and costing the infrastructure the teachers union in oakland that district officials that those school communities the virgin islands facing the challenges from that disaster but yet that common thread that refuses to
put people before politics in that climate change and republican rule makers like another california wildfires and that disaster relief package and those investigation to improve the federal government and with that federal responses the underlying crisis is undeniable. that is worse than natural disasters with emergency preparedness. as climate change has the
responsibility to provide the resources to recover from natural disaster. it is more important now than ever before and the students and families from the federal government not only recover but you think the witnesses for joining us today for my friend and ranking member for the opening statement. >> thank you mister chairman for yielding. sometimes we forget when a natural disaster strikes it doesn't discriminate. schools are central gathering place and just as vulnerable as homes or businesses and churches when a natural disaster hits the community.
hurricanes and fires like the ones devastating the us in recent years to displace thousands of students forcing communities to scramble to rebuild congress provides disaster aid to make sure it is critical to the successful and efficient renewal and it also assures the technical assistance and regulatory flexibility and other measures to llc and local leaders resources to rebuild a natural disaster in their communities there no better witnesses after natural disasters of local and state education leaders they are best suited on those challenges that come with reconstruction and success of the department of education disaster relief efforts. i look forward to this hearing
to work with my colleagues to make sure schools are not forgotten in the aftermath of natural disasters. you can always fully prepare for a destructive storm or fire we should do all we can to make the returning of america's children as safe as possible. thank you and i yelled back. >> without objection all other statements will be entered for the rate one - - for the record they will be put electronic format by friday. at 5:00 p.m. now we will introduce a witness on the first panel secretary for elementary and secondary education of the united states department of education most recently serving in the public universities in the fifth
grade teacher that later served as the assistant principal and superintendent in 1994 continued advocacy for public education and 1998 and after five years was named president of florida was a position he held when they were selected to serve as chancellor of the university. we appreciate all the witnesses from being here today and for your testimony we will remind witnesses you we have read your statements and it will appear in the hearing record and to limit the oral presentation for five
minutes. we will remind the witnesses section 1001 is illegal to willingly knowingly falsify a statement to be presented to congress so before we give that testimony so that it will turn on and the members can hear you. and then the light will turn green to signal you have one minute remaining and then we ask that you please wrap up when the lights turn red. we ask that you please wrap up. when answering a question please remember to turn your microphone on. i welcome and recognize assistant secretary for his oral statement, thank you.
>> how is that? the lights were easier, mister chairman. i want to thank you very much, mister chairman and ranking members for giving me the opportunity to the with you and the committee members today and thank you for the opportunity to share how the department of education does work hard to help students, their families and communities, states and territories, recover from natural disasters. the 2017 hurricanes in florida, texas, georgia, rico, the virgin islands, wildfires in california, disrupted far too many learning environments for students and teachers. those of us at the department of education will move to minimize impact on students of all ages, their teachers and schools. we continue to support communities as they work to reopen schools and restore learning environments.
secretary devos and others traveled to each of the hurricane impact areas in the fall of 2017 to see the damage to affected schools. more than a dozen staff participated in the outreach efforts, formed initial cost estimates, develop legislative options, helped prepare a white house request to congress for assistance, technical assistance to congress to develop legislation. secretary devos made available the project to serve program which restores learning environments in affected areas, provided grants of $2 million each to the virgin islands, puerto rico texas and california. the goal of starting high-priority relief efforts to supplement the forthcoming congressional action, comprehensive disaster recovery
legislation. in early 2018 congress provided $2.7 billion to fund a comprehensive set of education related disaster recovery programs and the department quickly moved to implement this appropriation. to date we have awarded $1.4 billion under 5 programs designed in this effort to make certain people have the available funds to do the job they must do in the world of recovery. i personally visited puerto rico in the summer of 2018 following my confirmation as assistant secretary. by the time students were back in school. that doesn't mean everything was back to normal. many windows were still boarded up, buildings still without air-conditioning and many students still homeless as well as staff members yet i refused to forget the smiling faces of those children. despite their challenges they are still children.
always hopeful when it comes to their futures. our team remains in regular contact with students and educational leaders in affected areas, created the hurricane health webpage to make available key resources including information on many flex abilities in using federal taxpayer funds, various waivers made available. we provided funds to states like florida, $2 million to states like california for the 2018 wildfires, working to improve our ability to provide timely resources, high-quality support and appropriate oversight of federal taxpayer funds with the creation in the department of education of a new disaster recovery unit. this new 5 person team will be devoted full-time to managing current and future disaster response efforts including
development of in-house expertise, leverage department resources and partner effectively with other federal agencies. our goal remains to support students, teachers and communities affected by natural disasters. thank you for providing us an opportunity to discuss this important, timely issue. i look forward to answering any questions you might have this morning. >> thank you very much. we now question witnesses under the 5 minute rule. i will yield to the next senior member who will be followed by the ranking member. and doctor berlin, doctor
shalala, representative of florida and welcome, we have been longtime friends, working together in florida over the years, the secretary is lucky to have you. i am particularly concerned about delays in restart funds to puerto rico and the virgin islands. puerto rican educators continue to report they have not received those funds. give us a sense why you have been delayed and what you are able to do to make sure you get those funds? >> thank you, congresswoman. good to see you as well. and lucky to have you too. a pleasure to have you and the members. in answer to your question the process of moving the dollars
made available by congress to those who have been affected by natural disasters is important and it is also very important to expedite that effort. the reality in 2017 when we receive that appropriation it was before me but nevertheless was received in february and ultimately in the month of march, april, and may, out the door in terms of available dollars. those dollars were determined based on need at the time, and the programs and activities, as you know better than most as far back as 2017 and even before that, certain categories of funding have been utilized in disaster recovery allocations after the total including immediate aid to restart school operations. temporary emergency impact aid
for displaced students, assistance for homeless children and youth is another, project school emergency response to violence, the grants that i mentioned a moment ago and in the world of higher education, defraying cost and emergency assistance to institutions of higher education. we take the total amount of money and begin the issue of dividing that based on the application we received and the distribution that i mentioned here. i hope that helps a little bit. >> do you know how much puerto rico and the virgin islands have drawn out of their research funds to date? >> yes, ma'am. i can tell you what the appropriation was for each and a little more about drawdown.
you mentioned vi, puerto rico. did you mention another one? puerto rico and vi, yes. for all of these, as i mentioned, the total impact was $2.7 billion. as it relates to the drawdown, puerto rico out of that received restart of $589,170,000 along with other categories including $70 million, $277,000 and through projects, $2 million. out of that, the drawdown schedule which i also have and if i don't have it in front of me we will get you that. by the way the drawdowns are posted on the fema website because we work on tabs of not only the total allocations but