tv FEMA Administrator on 2017 Disasters CSPAN March 20, 2018 1:27pm-3:50pm EDT
homeland security career stin nielsen testified on election security and that will be live in the morning at 9:30 eastern and robert lighthizer will testify in front of the sfraet finance committee imposed by the trump administration and give an overview on u.s. trade policy. live coverage begins thursday, 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span three. fema administrator brock long and others testify on lessons learned on 2017 disasters which include harvey, irma and maria. the house homeland security committee is considering reducing regulations and whether fema should become a block-%
security will come to order. meeting todd to kpan the lessons learned from last year's disaster rs. the response and recovery efforts for hurricane harvey, irma and maria to prepare for future disasters. administrator's long first appearance. welcome sir. and i welcome the opportunity to learn more about your priorities and vision for fema. i see we have members joining us today that are not on the committee. i ask consent that residence commissioner gonzalez and congresswoman ve laz kwez and be aloud to sit at the dia s. i rose myself for opening statement. gathered to review our ability to prepare, respond and rebuild
in the wake of the natural disasters of 2017, before we begin, i would like to extend my condolences to the victims of the recent bombing s in my hometown of austin. these attacks need to stop. no one should be afraid to open up their front door and pick up a package. we will find who is responsible for these murders and make sure they are brought to justice. while the american people are constant, while they are constant targets of foreign and domestic terrorists, cyber criminals like ms 13 and human trafficking, today will focus on the dangers of natural disasters. 2017, 55 major disasters declared. hurricanes hit my home state of texas, florida, the u.s. virgin islands and puerto rico. we saw dozens of wildfires burn
everything in their past. harvey hit texas. i toured the devastating communities in my district and the cities of houston. punishing rain, rising rivers wreak wreaked havoc on my state. roads for flooded, homes oh blit rated and many lost their lives. i witness the strength of the texas spirit that was the positive. and many volunteers hopped in boats to rescue people who were stranded on the rooftops or trap in a vehicle. others waited out into the waters filled with snakes, and fire ants to save their loved ones or even to help a stranger. texans helping each other rose to the challenge and assisted one another in a tough time. strong coordination and army
core of engineers played a key role and i commend the efforts and the response to hurricane harvey. this kind of team work was evident in florida after hurricane irma. hurricane maria shattered puerto rico and even today much of the island is struggling to recover. it is important that we learn from the lessons of each of the storms and better prepare for the future. natural disasters bring a lot of harm and provide an tupt to put differences aside and work together. i'm proud to say that both parties came together to pass a supply mental relief pack ka j that provided billions of dollars to the relief fund and insurance program t. is our goal to make sure fema has resources and capabilities and needs before it is called into action. the first ever reauthorization of dhs passed, the house in july
and strengthen our first responders and front-line defenders. the senate taken action on this reauthorization bill and i hope to have it passed, soon and sent to the president. i would like to thank the witnesses for being with us this morning. shortly after hurricane harvey, i met with administrator long at fema headquarters to receive a briefing. i can see firsthand, the dedication and professionalism of the men and women who sprung into action during that time of crisis. i'm grateful for their service and efforts and all of our partners at the federal state and local level. and with that i yield back and the chair recognizes ranking member mr. thompson. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. to begin today i would like to express my condolences to the families of the victims of the
recent austin package bombing s. my thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives as well as the survivors. turning to today's hearings, as you know mr. chairman, we were scheduled to have fema administrator brought before this committee november of last year. unfortunately you abruptly cancelled the hearing after the democrats invited the mayor of san juan puerto rico to testify about the affects of hurricane ma r maria. after administrator long publicly stated that he filtered out the mayor a long time ag. i'm not sure when it becomes acceptable to be dismissive of a representative.
-- six months since hurricane ma are i ya made land fall. sending the island into darkness for 3.3 million americans. still today, thousands of americans are 10% of the population are yet to have power restored. the puerto rican economy struggles as a result of devastation to infrastructure, homes and businesses. hundreds of thousands of puerto ricans have moved to the mainland in the wake of the storm. perhaps never to return. so while i'm pleased the committee is finally holding this important meeting torks say it is long overdue is an under statement. to the 2017 hurricane season was the most active. with 17 named storms. three major storms caused devastation in texas, the u.s. virgin islands and puerto rico. the response to the storms by
the trump administration was a study in contrast. after harvey, president trump tweeted, texas we are with you today, tomorrow, and we will be with you every single day after to restore, recover and rebuild. president trump later visited the affected area just four days later this. is what americans expect from the president and their fellow government in a wake of a disaster. after hurricane irra struck florida, president trump tweeted swrus like texas, we are with you today, tomorrow and we will be with you every single day after to restore, recover and rebuild. again, the president visited four days later as it should be. after hurricane maria, devastated puerto rico in parts of the u.s. injuvirgin islands.
he tweeted we can not keep fema, the military and first responders who have been amazing under the most difficult circumstances in puerto rico forever. the president said the government of puerto rico wanted everything to be done for them and accused officials of poor leadership. and when we finally showed up in puerto rico two weeks after the storm made landfall, he chucked rolls of paper towels at survivors. didn't even both tore visit the u.s. virgin islands. for an american president to behave this way -- in keeping with the president's action, the failed government response was decidedly different after each storm. fema had supplies and personnel prepositioned before hurricane harvey made land fall an august
25th and shortly there after, the government had more than 31,000 of federal employees on the ground in support of the response. fema provided 3 million meal and litters of water for har vi survivors. irma, more than 40,000 personnel including 2,600 staff on the ground just before the storm struck on september 10th. fema also provided 6.6 million meals and 4.7 million litters of water to the region's in the day after irma made landfall. the trump administration response stomary ya was slower and weeks after the storm there was a fraction of the federal personnel on the ground in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands as have been deployed to
texas and florida. food and water in short supply. the fellow contracts to provide essentials like tarps and meals were botched. further, slowing the response. electrical out ages to critical facilities like hospitals required doctors in puerto rico koe to perform life-saving surgery to use the light of their cellphones. doctors in the u.s. and virgin islands saw the only hospital on saint thomas damaged rendering the medical floor and the treatment facility unusable. despite the devastation, it took 43 days for president trump to approve disaster aid for puerto rico, kquadruple the time it tok to approve astance to texas and florida. the delay was due to the imposing conditions on the aid. never before required of any
community. a deal some have called the puerto rico special. meanwhile, the president found the time to spend several days at his trump properties, golfing, holding multiple fundraisers, fighting with nfl players about taking a knee during the game and tweet about everything from fake news to the russian hoax. that is not the kind of leadership the people of puerto rico or any american affected by disasters expect or deserve. i hope today, i hope to hear from the first panel of witnesses about how the federal government is using funding approved by congress to support, response and recovery in communities hit by hurricanes why wou, why would fires and other recent disasters. i'm particularly interested hearing from administrator long about the lessons learned from
the disasters and how fema can be a better-prepared to respond isn't the future. for the witnesses on our second panel, i hope to hear your perspective on the federal response is and what we can do to support your recovery going forward. fema's mission is supposed to be helping people before, during and after disasters. it is our job to conduct the oversight necessary to ensure that agency for fields at mission. so i look forward to our discussion today. mr. chairman, you recognized two members who are here, mrs mrs. plaskett and velasqez. >> she could not make it today. >> she is actually in the
hospital. >> that is why i says unfortunately. >> yeah. >> we are pleased to have two distinguished witnesses before us today the first is the honorable brock long administration agency and next we have major general donald jackson, deputy commanding of the civil and emergency operations at the united states army core of engineers and mr. john kelly, not the chief of staff but the acting intrustruc of homeland community. the the chair recognizes administrator long for his opening statement. >> distinguished members of committee, it is on honor to be here in the spirit soft improvement. i'm here to talk about the efforts put forward response and recovery efforts to help millions of americans.
there's always room of improvement. i'm the agency's worst critic. i've been in the job ninen months and i realize we have a long way to go. the disaster, response and recovery the proper way has to be federally supports and state managed and locally executed. i hope today to unveil a new strategic plan in the committee, not only to you and the public, but we have a side that i would like to display if possible that i'll break down here in a minute. to put this season into context by numbers, is nearly impossible. the numbers are huge. what we went through -- if you look at just harvey, irma, maria and the california wildfires, each catastrophic in its own right muchless happening weeks in rapid succession. we estimate that roughly 47 million people impact by the event.
16% of the american population. 47 million people forced to act to take a po techive action. revak wait or loss their home t. is a tremendous effort to help that amount of people in the country. and we have a long way to go to improve. on the response side, the federal government efforts can be credited with saving 9,000 lives. thousands and thousands more saved by local responders and neighbor helping neighbor. on the recovery side, we registered 4.7 people in our -- to help kick start recovery. i can't make people whole. we can put forward assistance to help kick start their recovery. that number is more than hurricane, katrina, sandy, william combined packed into four or five months. today we get 13,000 callings a day for assistance that the ago
sen is trying to work through. we learned a lot ofless sons. we have to work with our private sector partners to build backbone so we don't lose communication in the ability to communicate with one another and to the citizens. we have to streamline a federal government fragmented recovery process. aide comes down from 17 different agencies. it is confusing. governors and mayors don't nkno how to use t. we have to fix housing. i'm going to ask you for support to help me fix housing and give more granting authorities to governors going forward to give them and put them and give them more control to understand how to help their communities recover from housing missions and not just have it solely on fema's shoulders. there's nothing most important than the trained emergency manager. i've had -- we implemented 4,700
local hires. hired roughly 1,300 of the best and brightest purterto ricans. and we're training them to be emergency mangers, and creating a backbone of emergency management that did not exist before the storm not only for the commonwealth but for the 78 municipalities. the same thing is being done for the virgin islands and others states as well. and to reduce the impact of what we saw. we have to put more money unfront than the back end. we have to simplify processes. i have had numerous conversations with many of you about thing that is get in the way. this agency had to perform 2.3 million home inspections. put your mind around that for a minute. it take as i lot of people to perform that many.
it is a slow pros that slows recovery down. i'm asking to do away with the majority of the pros and use technology rather than set up risk averse systems that draws the system out. going forward, the strategic plan, we asked our constituents and i asked specifically, what do you want fema to be good at? what do you want us to be? what do we need to do? how do we get there? we reached out to the state and local partners and nongovernmental organizations. and we got 2,300 comments back. we did a trend analysis and have three major goals. we are asking other agencies involved to embrace this as a unified approach. we have to have a unified approach going forward in
disaster, response and recovery. we are not prepared. we have to get them to be financially ready, and got to teach them tangible skills like cpr and go back to the old civil defense days of being ready. and do pre-disaster mitigation. close the insurance gap. far too many people are insured or under-insured and that is not right. those insured will recover quicker than those who are not. help me over come this problem. the and ready the nation for catastrophic disaster. we are not ready for the earthquakes or the nation-state threat. we have alot of work to dochlt i'm asking for help. we have to have commodity contracts, the ability to do water, food, hygiene kits in place. if you are expecting fema to do it, that's not a sound plan. i'm wanting to move my staff out
of the agency and regional offices and put them and embed them with state and local agencies so i can be part of the conversation everyday. not just in the response and row k recovery round, but everyday. the third goal, reduce the complexity of fema. i'm my own worst critic. i know we have a stream less processes specifically, the disaster survivor process. we have to streamline the disaster grantee and ub grantee spros that takes a lot of work. ultimately, i'm asking for your help. i'm committed to leading fema to help prepare this nation and make it more resilient. thank you. >> the chair now recognizes, major general jackson. >> distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the
opportunity to testify today. the core conducts under two basic authorities. the stafford act and public 199. as the lead >> critical public facility restoration and temporary housing. under 8499 we plan prepare for and recover from disasters in coordination with local, state and federal partners. core teams and other resources are mobilized to assist local offices with their response to the event. more than 50 specialty trained teams supported by emergency contacts which perform a wide range of missions. uses preawarded contracts that can be quickly activated debris removal and generator
installation. two of our divisions are currently fighting seasonal flooding along the ohio and mississippi rivers today and their tribeutaries. debris removal is complete in 10 of 11 debris basins across six cities. we expect this to be complete by the end of april. 85% of debris removal and elimination is complete and we expect it to be complete by the end of march. given 27 mission assignments by fema in support of hurricane harvey response and recovery. this included missions in all six mission areas under our 8499 authority. temporary housing, critical public facilities and debris management is on going.
given 46 irma related mission assignments and 39 maria related mission assignments by fema. this includes navigation restoration, levey and dam safety under our 8499 authority. 180 in the u.s. virgin islands and 1,900 in puerto rico. the mission is complete with 890 generators still installed at critical facilities across puerto rico. under fema authority we continue to assist puerto rico with operation maintenance of critical generators across the island and 5 of 9 installed in support of power good restoration in puerto rico remain in service today. we expect it to end mid may. 78,000 temporary roofing including 13,000 in florida and over 59,000 in puerto rico.
missions in florida in u.s. virgin islands are complete. we expect to be complete by the first week in april. and 94% complete in the final pick up schedule today for st. thomas and st. john. our debris teams are actively working in 38 municipalities with debris removal complete in 17. we expect to be complete with all removal and disposal by mid june. the core worked closely with officials to manage reservoirs during unprecedented rainfall. in puerto rico, core dam and levey teams inspected 17 and worked closely with the power authority to stabilize a stowaway failure at the dam.
assist the common wealth in conducting emergency pairs to the power grid itself. the core did not have preaward contracts to use for this effort. instead we competitively award contacts for temporary and line repair and logistics required to support the mission. this included acquiring $283 million in materials critical to the restoration efforts. many with unique specifications to the grid. energized almost 92% of customers thus far. in coordination with fema and the common wealth we have begun to right size our contracted work force. it will be turned over to crews. the core will continue to operate turbines through late apr
april. the core remains committed and capable of executing across the nation despite our heavy involvement in these on going response and recovery operations. we also remain ready and poised to assist in future events as they occur. this concludes my testimony and i look forward to answering any questions you might have. >> thank you. and begin the difficult work to help the people effected by three major hurricanes.
the costliest season in u.s. history. this even topped the 2005 season that included hurricane katrina. in response to the unprecedented disasters in texas, florida, and puerto rico, we deployed staff from our local offices as well as other auditors, analysts and criminal investigators from around the country. staff on the ground creates an independent unit that oversees disaster response and recovery activities and detects systemic problems and helps ensure cou countabilities over funds and provides stakeholders with timely information to address operational challenges. it assures stakedness ho holder it's part of the department of justice's tolerance.
we work with the national center of disaster fraud. also activate participate political task forces established by the u.s. attorneys. finally brief fema and multijurisdictional task forces on waste and use. it's disappointing but disasters often result from them. we received over 4,000 complaints in the first five months of fiscal year 2018 we received over 14,600 complaints. that's more than triple the total amount received in 2017. and these numbers continue to grow every day. in the 2017 hurricane season fema faced situational
challenges caused by the magnitude of the disasters and systemic challenges over time. responding to three major hurricanes at one time is difficult. in 2017, the response was further complicated by hurricanes irma and maria devastating the caribbean islands of puerto rico and the virgin islands which are not easily accessible locations. this poses additional logistical challenges to an already overtaxed response work force. to further complicate matter, much of the infrastructure was already in disrepair prior to the damages caused by the hurricanes. in addition to the situational challenges systemic such as procurement practices, benefits inadequate staffing and privacy vulnerabilities and protecting survivors home and property and
further damages and providing funds. if left unmitigated these challenges could delay survival recovery and put billions of federal dollars at risk. to this end we issued several lesson learned reports addressing disaster preparedness. it highlights concerns. looking forward, the challenges identified during the recent disasters highlight the importance of proactive and federal oversight as well as continuing improvement of fema in executing it's mission. as agents of positive change, we have over 30 on going reviews and strive to make recommendations and approve fema's efficiency and effectiveness. mr. chairman, welcome in questions you or members may
have. >> thank you, mr. kelly. i now recognize myself for questions. administrator, let me commend you for your emergency response efforts in my home state. texas katy high school turned into an operating base with the national guard active duty. we saw the coast guard. we saw private citizens, the cajun navy and fema was there to preposition assets after the president declared it an emergency. and i think that made a big difference but there's some also confusion about the role of fema versus the role that the state and locals have to play as well working as a team together in the recovery efforts. i did speak with my governor, governor abbott recently who one of his frustrations was he had to deal with so many different organizations and i know, we talked about this, what is your vision to streamline and make
more efficient fema process in these disasters. >> thank you for the question. first of all i'd like to acknowledge that governor abbott is one of the most bold governors that owned every bit of the disaster response and recovery. i believe that texas is a model and i say that because it truly is where we need to go as federally supported state managed locally executed. fema is not a first responder. fema should not be the primary and only responder. my job is to work to understand what the response and recovery goals or preparedness goals are. organize our resources to help that governor achieve those goals and in texas i do believe that that's the model that was played out and that's the model we should be seeking for. the problem is housing. it would require granting authority from the congress to reorganize. for example, we're not housing
experts. we're good at doing emergency housing provisions, we're good at sheltering. blue tarp missions with the army corps of engineers. we put nearly 4.7 million people in hotels 4.7 million nights in hotels has been coordinated to this point. it would take a person 12,000 years to stay in hotels that many nights. give the governors more granting authority to handle the difficult housing issues and then clearly design the hand off between fema and the partnering agencies. streamline what we're responsible for and how we should work together and in some cases the disaster survivor may get 15 knocks at the door from fema to other federal government agencies, from state governments to nongovernmental
organizations. it's confusing. we have to do one that cuts across and down through the agencies. we have to streamline what we're doing. >> that's right. a one stop shop. i look forward to working with you on legislation and granting authority for you as well. they did this in 1940 and it created the dam but cyprus creek there's a proposed levey system that's never built. so what happened in hurricane harvey was that it overflowed and then controlled spillage was done at 1:30 in the morning and the residents were not happy about that. it filled up the bayous and flooded downtown houston. it had a cascading effect here. this gets into more flood
mitigation. i think you always hear the prevention piece is so important. can you tell me whether the third reservoir is on your list of projects? >> congressman, thanks. i can see from here even without my glasses that's a 1940s plan and i think you'll agree that a lot has changed in the region upstream and downstream since 1940. a lot of development which increases significantly the run off. to answer your question, we have a number of projects that we have identified that we're going to try to put forth to the administration for funding to be able to take a look at that reservoir, other opportunities to improve the flood -- >> if i can just say, it's the governor's number one priority and it's also my number one priority is to get that built and reinforced to make sure that
this doesn't happen again. 58 inches of rain is a lot of rain. we also put language in for $90 billion to expedite these projects. so i would hope you would be able to do this as quickly as possible. it takes too long. the studies and the construction. that's something that congress has given you new authorities to do it more expeditiously and i look forward to working with you to get this done as quickly as possible because it's flooded three times in two years. and it really, you know, now it's preventions we need to get this thing done.
>> you talk about improvements that you hope to see going forward. would you share those with this committee? >> yes, sir. >> are they complete at this time? >> what we try to do is i believe in streamline and concise documents. >> is your testimony that you have all the money you need to do your job? >> can i get back to you on that? >> have the ability to reimburse everybody but myself and the operational budget and staffing
pattern as mr. kelly illuded to doesn't grow with the disaster response so the amount of paperwork, the requests that come into the agency is exponentially increased with a year like this but the staffing pattern stays the same. >> so that means you'll get back with me? >> yes, sir. i would be happy to respond to you in writing. >> you got a time frame on that? on your response? >> can i have two weeks, sir? >> you have it. >> thank you. >> is it also your testimony that the response to florida, texas, puerto rico, and the virgin islands was acceptable under fema's present standards?
>> i think the term acceptable lies in the eye of the beholder. i'm sure it's very tough to deal with each and every community but as a whole, as i said, i'm very proud of the response that was put forward and the model of federally supported state managed and locally executed played out in california, texas and florida. in regards to puerto rico we're still pushing forward every day. we still have 3,000 staff in place along with the local hires that are there and in regards to things like food and commodity, the amount of commodities that we put into puerto rico is one of the estimates that i saw was close to $2 billion. that alone would rank as one of our top 20 most costly disasters in the history of fema.
>> i'm trying to get your opinion as to whether or not you're confident that the response to texas, florida, the virgin islands and puerto rico was acceptable to your standards. i'm not talking about anybody else. >> i would say yes it's acceptable. do we have room for improvement? always. always. it's the emergency management profession as a whole. catastrophic readiness bothers me from the standpoint of do all counts, do states, have their own ability to push life saving commodities. have they written disaster recovery plans that will help them receive funding from 17 different government agencies and they're outcome driven. they know how they're going to
mitigate their communities when these dollars arrive and they know what their goals are going to be. are we preplanning up front at all levels of government and doing it in a fashion to where we are pushing forward to do the greatest good with the tax paying dollars. >> so can you get this committee in writing what you consider the acceptable consequences to the response to those four disasters. >> sure. >> thank you. now administrator long i understand that the trump administration is requiring puerto rico to use public assistance alternative procedures on a permanent work project. why are they being treated different than other areas. >> we're not treating them differently. everything we have done, we have been playing phone tag this morning and as of yesterday as well, everything is negotiated.
we believe that the section 428 is the most prudent way to move forward and we briefed the governor and ultimately he requested that. we don't strong arm people into doing things. the reason we went with 428 was the sheer magnitude of the amount of damage to the infrastructure and the maintenance problems we ran into. for example there were thousands of roadway obstructions. it would be too cumbersome, it would be too costly for fema to write a project work sheet for each one of the obstructions and fema ends up being there for 20 years. >> mr. chair, i'd like to have your response to that specific question in writing back to the committee. >> yes, sir. >> thank you. i yield back. >> yields back. per the agreement with the
ranking members i recognize her for opening statement. >> thank you for the ability to speak here today. i also want to recognize you both for your leadership in examining the aftermath of last year unprecedented hurricane season. this work is critical because our disaster response capabilities must continually evolve to meet the types of frequencies of the disasters that we face. while much have been debated about the federal government's response to puerto rico and the virgin islands, i am here to find solutions. i'm worried about the toll these unprecedented hurricanes have
taken upon people of puerto rico. i'm here today because they're losing hope. more than 300,000 have left the island. and i am here because before we know it hurricane season will be before us again. the truth is before the hurricanes make land fall, it was widely known that if a natural disaster, especially one of catastrophic proportions were to hit the island the most vulnerable asset was puerto rico and as everyone in this room knows this turned out to be the case. to months after the hurricanes, some areas still look as they were hit yesterday. i was in my hometown it looks like a hurricane struck
yesterday. they still desperately need our help. so today we're all aware of when hurricane season starts again. as we hear from fema, the army core and local officials i want to make sure that we're leaving behind our political inclinations and work to come up with a meaningful plan for future disaster. one that would allow us to proactively deploy federal resources and prevent the mistakes of the past. we all know, we all knew hurricane irma, category 5 was in it's track to hit puerto rico
and we all knew how vulnerable puerto rico was in terms of the power. proactively knowing what we knew then, we need to take in order to be quickly there to deploy the federal assets that we need. not to wait later to send comfort when we knew that no hospital in puerto rico would have it. the people in puerto rico, the u.s. virgin islands, texas, california, and frankly all of those subject to the climate change destruction need to have the full faith and confidence in the institutions meant to keep america safe. i look forward to hearing about what has worked so far and what gaps this committee can address moving forward. thank you for allowing me to participate today and i yield
back. >> now recognize delegate for an opening statement. >> thank you very much. >> thank you for the opportunity to say a few words before the committee for this hearing on preparedness response and rebuilding. hurricanes irma and maria caused injuries and deaths in my district the u.s. virgin islands. the damage from the storms, the psychological and long-term economic impact is unparalleled as the occurrence of two category 5 hurricanes making land fall over a span of two weeks. rebuilding has yet to begin. the catastrophic destruction continue to demand massive amounts of aid to address the
overwhe overwhelming needs of victims i'll give you a couple of examples of where this is evident. it's been found that 19,000 homes have been damaged. however the army core installed 3,658 blue roofs. it became a long negotiation with fema for approval and spending for the sheltered restoration and the essential power program. the step program, the federal governments alternative to temporary housing to get people back in their homes rather putting them in temporary sheltders long-term. this was announced late february. september is the hurricane. february 6 months after the storms and homeowners are still aweight inspection and approvals. the next hurricane season begins june 1st. mounds of hurricane debris,
including appliances and scrap metal are near public schools and pose real health and safety risks to the people. debris removal was managed by the army core of engineers. three times the size of st. thomas, debris collection was run by the local government. debris was collected three times faster as it was on st. thomas and you heard system here this morning that they're going to be picking up that debris for removal from the islands this week. that's 32 square miles and 84 square miles of space on st. croix. six months for debris removal. as of today the period of the 100% federal cost share for debris removal and emergency measures has ended.
request debris removal, 10% federal cost and a march 13th letter from ranking member of the committee and benny thompson on the committee of homeland security requesting that this extension be granted. >> thank you. it doesn't have the resources. it's still awaiting modular structure for use of schools and medical centers. until then they're operating on four hour rotations. this is expected to continue at least until int the next school year and access to care and
hospitals remains limited. as a result inpatient care and other services in the entire u.s. virgin islands remain off island. congress set up a system where fema structural demands that it guards it's budget and gives only when requested or pressed by local governments. this is a structure that must be changed. it does not support the best interests of american citizens living in disaster areas. fema has to, as we have heard here, is willing and needs the support of congress to streamline the processes so that results and support can get to the people. the examples are a few of the issues that the virgin islands remains faced with six months after irma and maria and i look forward to the discussion and more questions on how to resolve these issues, thank you. >> i want to thank you and all
members, ranking members of this committee for calling this hearing and allow us to be here in such an important matter. i'll thank the witness for answering the call and coming before congress to answer for the response to an unprecedented disaster it's been more than five months now and we saw an event that none of us expected to see in our lifetimes. the jurisdiction the size of connecticut nobody would allow them to be without power for so many months. we live in the failure of all
technological resources which accounted for our daily lives. we still have 90% of generation but that doesn't mean people get power in their homes. when you're looking to what is the goal to finish most of the agencies are saying that could be march or may of this year. we're talking about 5 or 6 months waiting for power. not to account the hundreds of people with dos or federal conditions that require for them to get a generator or have power in their houses. according to the fema and the u.s. army core of engineers this has been the biggest mission to restore them in the agencies history. yet millions of puerto ricans ask themselves what is taking so long? one of my biggest questions can be how much more resources both agencies need to finish the job
how long it would take to finish the last line of help in the center part of the island which we still have a lot of towns with less than 40% of power. all things are currently under discussion but the restoration should be done by the end of march. we're not talking about having a reliable system or resil gent system. we're talking about a level of destruction. defy everyone's expectation but my biggest concern would be here. it's that we or any part of america taking, spending months with their utilities down, what should happen?
waiting to receive that kind of help. and then that will help in terms of recovery. what do you need to finish the job in 30 days? we cannot say that may or june or july are the best scenario when we're going to face it this summer. this is one of the biggest challenge that we got and i do ask mr. chairman to allow a letter that i just sent to the commanding general to the army
core of engineers asking them to extend the mission of the u.s. army core and are set to expire in march 19 and april 7 if you allow that to happen. the biggest would be do we have the resources? do we have the materials? do we have the crews to handle those missions. that's not the mission of the core of engineers but in a moment like this we want you to finish. thank you. >> mr. rogers from alabama. >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. long. good to have you here. it's refreshing to finally have a witness that doesn't have an accent.
i wanted to address the comments about local government officials being disgruntled after aa disaster. i have been in this business 32 years. seen a lot of disasters over that period of time. these events are overwhelming to communiti communities. i have always seen disgruntled local officials. we always will. there's never going to be the perfect recovery but we need to remember how far we have come. after the hurricane that struck new orleans that was a very poor performance by anybody's standard but fema has come a long way since then. i was on this committee and down in new orleans during that period but the last fema administrator was a complete pro and brought that a long way and this fema administrator is
top quality too. they have done a really good job and this last year with these overwhelming numbers of disasters, we need to keep in mind that perfection is never going to happen. but with that, mr. long, there was a story that came out that disturbed me. she delivered only 50,000 with limited staff working for her and then the story went on to describe how the meals were and how incapable she really was and turns out she had been getting government contracts from a lot of different departments over the years that she was not able to perform. how is that happening? it's just not happening in fema. how did this woman get this huge contract that she couldn't keep? how did it happen?
>> so there was never an alert on the background that this company was not able to perform to meet the ramifications of the contract. let me back up to talk about the magnitude of this year when it comes to procurement and contracts. we had 59 prepositioned contracts we had to initiate 1,973 additional contracts to cover the entire country from california to the virgin islan s islands. only 3 were cancelled. tribute being one of them. but there was no alert process that went through that said stay away from this company. now of the two companies that defaulted on the three contracts, two of them, no tax paying dollars went out to.
you're correct. we spent $225,000 on 50,000 meals that were delivered. they were not packaged correctly in my opinion and the tiling of getting the meals for whatever reasons they defaulted on the contract. we cancelled it in our due diligence. 3 out of 1973 contracts were cancelled. the problem with it is is that now my agency is going through this because there may be other parts of the government that didn't do their due diligence to throw the red flags into the system. now it's incumbent upon my agency to make sure that if the actions that were not taken or if they were trying to defraud us or whatever that we alert them into the system and follow the process if deemed necessary. >> shifting gears, during the multiple disasters, how did your emergency communications work?
did that effect your ability to communicate. >> we do not have a resil gent communications network? >> why. >> we have to reach out to the private sector partners. we're being desensitized to our cell phones and step agoway from landlines but a good portion of the capability was burned up and blown out by hurricane irma and maria and any time you lose the ability to communicate, two things happen, you lose situational awareness and you lose the ability to, for example, in my opinion it wasn't that there wasn't enough food and water on the island of puerto rico, it was communicating to people where to go to get it and it makes everything difficult. we have to navigate by stars to enter people into our assistance programs. so we have to strike up a very thoughtful conversation of how
do we build a system that doesn't go down? it's prepared for all hazards so that we don't lose that capability. it's crucial. it's beyond fema's ability to do it. >> thank you. i yield back. >> the gentleman yields. >> we thank you for a very wise effort. let me acknowledge that to date and the numbers may be some what inaccurate but let me offer to say that there were 88 deaths due to hurricane harvey in the state of texas and about 30 as of september 4th in my surrounding area including my constituents who were a family of 6 who drowned trying to escape in northeast houston. i think it is important to
acknowledge again that when we speak, we speak for our brothers and sisters in the virgin islands, in puerto rico, certainly in florida and louisiana and certainly in california. we speak in two different formats. one in appreciation being at the command station from the moment hurricane harvey hit being based at the convention center in houston, there was no doubt that it was a collective effort that we were dependent upon the rescue part of their work and certainly along with them, the coast guard and i'm personally reminded of the first responders as people were calling in to be rescued. those were difficult and dangerous and troubling times
that many of my colleagues have been involved in in their own respective districts. so let me first of all say thank you i had more than 300 plus and whether they could stay or find housing and we're still in a period of recovery. let me try to express my interest and concern with breaking up fema or having fema have components of the rescue period which is that early stage and then long-term recovery. i have a text on my phone from a pastor that indicates that inspectors came and there was four feet of water and they said it was four inches and denied.
my meeting was based upon recovery and asked people to bring their denial letters and i must say all of our local officials will acknowledge that the number of denials in our community were enormous. they particularly hit minority communities. in this text, it indicated the inspectors were not assessing our older homes properly an one statement in which i'm trying to research but i think it's important that there were too many black employees that were hired that were temporary. we hope that that is not true. but my question to you, what are your thoughts about reforming fema on the rescue immediate and then the long-term part of it? as you answer that question, would you answer the question about the enormous number of vacancies that i hope to put into the record the list of vacancies which are enormous and i don't want to take time to call them at fema.
i don't know how you could do your job as you have indicated when there's so many vacancies and then the question with our -- resources, the texas general land office is trying to staff up. we need 90. i understand there's 33. i don't know if fema will help with the monies coming in that are part of fema assistance dollars to be able to help do the housing part of the second half. so could you start on the reordering of fema and let me also acknowledge mayor turner and our harris county judge. all of us working together. i yield to you. >> thank you congresswoman. so in regards to the response, it's my job to coordinate the fire power of 32 federal government agencies down to do the life saving, life sustaining
mission which was pretty unprecedented. the problem is its got to be more than fema from the standpoint and the recovery but it starts on preparedness and goes back to a true culture of preparedness. there's too much of an insurance gap. we learn that in harvey and texas alone. we have to go back to the basics to say that any house could flood regardless of if you're in a flood map or not. we have to double the number of insurance policies and the level of assistance is like 3, 4, $5,000. if you're properly insured the average pay out in harris county right now is $110,000. there's -- how do we help people get insurance and properly ensured to speed up their recovery? i cannot make people hole as you realize. and the toughest part is we still have a huge population in hotels and toughest part is
transitioning them out of a hotel and into a housing solution on their property. that's going to require more than fema again. we're not housing experts. that's why i'm asking for the granting authority to be able to give the governor the ability to purchase their own trailers. purchase their own innovative housing capabilities that are out there. i believe that a governor can do a faster, quicker, and cheaper than fema ever can because i'm having to physically buy manufactured homes. through the defense production authorities that i have. it's a cumbersome time consuming process. i proactively put travel trailers back on the table because there's more volume and easier access to travel trailers to be able to do that. but i'm not the housing expert. we have to have more conversations with hud, with our governors to say what is the right mix? what are the capabilities that we need? >> i recognize mr. perry.
>> thank you for your attendance. is there anything that the guard can do better? i know that it's hard to preposition. you don't know what you need sometimes until you need it and you have different states and different services whether it's the air guard or the army guard with different requirements and so on and so forth and i'm just wondering from your standpoint, is there anything that we fall short on? is there anything that we can improve state to state to respond and be helpful and response in a critical time? >> well, first of all, my hats off to the national guard. here again, they're one of the most critical partners that we have and one of the most
critical assets that our governor has and we saw them do work when it comes to delivering mres to saving lives. the issues that have been raised to me by the general and others falls in line with the emergency management mutual aid assistance compacts and the speed in which the national guard assets are reimbursed. i don't have the authority. if a governor, if you were the governor of new york and say you are going to provide your national guard, i don't have the ability to reimburse you directly. all of my reimbursement authority has to go through the governor to you so you're dependent upon that governor, the requesting governor reimbursing you back. and that's the problem. i don't know how to solve that problem. >> that's not a fema
relationship. it's more of a guard bureau to state relationship? >> it's a governor to governor contract and quite frankly i don't know if you want fema involved. >> i'm not saying we do. i just want to know where the shortcomings are so we can try to improve. >> if i get involved they have to adhere to my procurement rules and you don't want that. >> so it's just the speed between which governors come to agreement and then inform you. >> right and then reimburse each other. >> okay. >> they have to cut that contract up front. >> okay. >> another question. i'm sensitive to some of the things that my good friend spoke to and part of the information that i have, september 20th was when the hurricane hit puerto rico. irma about 10 days prior. so they already sustained damage from irma and now we're, you know, we're nearly 7 months off.
it's march 20th would be 7 months and from the information i have, puerto rico's power has been restored and i'm curious about generation versus -- because the information that i have said power is being restored to customers, 90%. virgin virgin virgin islands, 99.8. or st. croix 99.1. so the question i have is we had the hearing some time ago about how many crews, the folks restoring the power, how many crews were available and we get the situation how bad the infrastructure was prior to the storm and that the ports of entry, whether air or sea were damaged heavily and it made it hard, even if you had prepositioned assets, all of those things with standing, how many crews do you know are still
on the ground on the island to do this work? how many do you think are required? >> i would need to yield. >> sure. >> he owns the contracts for that. >> sure, thanks for that. we had about 6,000 line workers that were a combination of what fell under the core of engineers control and what fell underneath the contracts. we have, the core of engineers has about 1,317 folks on the ground. prepa has 2,100 or 2,200 line workers on the ground. that's changed overtime. there's something called a unified command group which is headed by mr. carlos torres that's the storm response coordinator. he leads a group and includes fema, core of engineers and leadership and representatives from the governors office and every day they meet and take a look at material availability, prioritization of line repair
and make decisions on how lines are asignsigned. >> i'm interested to know what your estimate is of 100% distribution completion on the island. if you know that. >> it's been a long time to be without power. we estimated probably mid may before 100% of all the stuff is done. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you for being here and appreciate your testimony. and staying focused on the territories in puerto rico, nearly 1 in 3 schools lacks electricity and many also lack consistent access to clean water
this forced many schools to operate on a limited daily schedule leading to school aged children in puerto rico missing out on more than 20 million full days of learning. what plans do you have in place to ensure that no displaced child is out of an educational setting for more than 30 days in the future? >> i'd have to get back to you in writing on that. i don't know. >> we have situations that i have brought up in the past surrounding children and their needs during disasters. and we feel that more attention has to be paid to the special circumstances not being with their parents, parents
reconnecting with them after disasters. the example i use the most is several years ago the tornadoes in oklahoma, there was an issue about reuniting children with their parents after the situation. and also the need to identify areas of learning, you know? daycare centers sometimes aren't listed and first responders just went right past, you know, because they're in private areas so we need to designate how we locate children as well in these areas. but it's something that, you know, i have been a proponent of, making sure that we have some type of -- you know,
they're not little people, they're children. and so they need guidance and someone to look out for them during these issues as they arise and them being reunified with their parents. so please, as you formulate your mission going forward that you keep that in mind and also, you know, we can discuss it more at a later date. >> and just a couple of resources, we do have resources for children in disasters. i agree with you, we have to do more. i have two young boys, 11 and 8. but here again, this is far greater than fema. this is a partnership with fema, nongovernmental organizations and the department of education for example because there are tons of statistics, spousal abuse goes up after disasters and we have to recognize these
things but i don't know if fema is the expertise when it comes to this and we need partners and trying to reconnect. and we might want to train as to what the availability of our resources are. >> fema had the national advisory council recommend the creation of something along that line of support, center of excellence type training. so that might be an area as well. >> thank you for coming and sharing your expertise with us.
i deal with emergency preparedness response and communications and it's not enough time to get into the areas so i was wondering if there's a way you can compile the lessons we have learned. it's amazing the amount of disasters that you had to deal with simultaneously or consecutively with the resources that you have. we haven't talked about the wildfires and mud slides in california and the amount of hurricanes we have had and in my role it would be helpful if we had a compilation of all the things that you have learned from this that we could help you for the future because places like puerto rico, the virgin islands, florida, texas, louisiana, they're going to get hit with other hurricanes and my understanding is from my colleagues that live in tornado
areas or earthquake areas there's not much warning there. it would be helpful to us if we had that so we could help you. i visited about three weeks after the storm and then recently went down to see how the recovery is coming. the island was consumed. it moved at about 8 miles per hour after it hit land fall and dumped more rain than puerto rico experiences in a year. the ground couldn't absorb it. we flew over in black hawk helicopters without doors and i'm afraid of heights. but we went up to observe the devastation and the island was
brown and the challenges of getting supplies to folks that were just isolated because they are an island and i suspect when you have a disaster that you're to in the mainland, you can drive supplies to -- you have it prestaged somewhere and after the storm is over -- it's very difficult, the airport being closed, the port being closed. the first responders on puerto rico being victims themselves. very challenging. we witnessed when we went back a few weeks ago to see how, general, you have to take telephone poles by helicopter up to the mountains to get them into the ground. and then by helicopter stringing along the electrical wiring to provide those poor folks up there with electricity. it's an amazing challenge. and one that i think, again, would be helpful if you could tell us in some type of report of what we could do to better be prepared for the future. one of the things i'd also ask
you to do for me, brock, is i have a lot of attached housing where i live. i represent new york city, parts of new york city. and to mitigate for flood insurance, a lot of people live in my district cannot raise their houses. so if fema could come up with some mitigators for those folks who can't raise their homes so that they can experience reductions in their flood insurance, that would be very helpful. and the last thing i'd like to speak about before my time runs out, i have a constituent who took that responsibility i spoke about in trying to get flood insurance, but they're not able to pay it in full at one time. and part of the insurance affordability act of the homeowner flood insurance act of 2014 created this system where people could pay in a payment plan. one particular woman reached out to me, who tried to do that and the system's not in place yet.
so if you can look into that for me, i'd very much appreciate it. again, this woman and many people are trying to do the right thing, protect their properties by having national flood insurance, but can't pay it in full or in whole and want to use this payment plan that we've put into place. if you could look into that for me, i'd very much appreciate it. mr. chairman, i yield back the remainder of my time. thank you. >> gentleman yields. ms. demings from florida is recognizes. >> thank you so much, mr. chairman, and to our ranking member and to our witnesses, thank you for being here today and thank you for all that you do to restore families after natural disasters. i grew up in florida. still represent florida. i served as a first responder, and so i'm no stranger to hurricanes. mr. long, i do want to ask you, according to reports, fema has denied about 23% of the 2.9 million applications for
individual assistance after hurricanes harvey, irma, maria, with the majority of those denials being in florida. several of my constituents report that their applications have been rejected for technicalities. typos or an omitted document. rather than a plain language request for additional information, they received a four-page denial. my office had the opportunity to assist one of the families whose home was destroyed by patches of toxic mold covering every surface, but because they were missing one insurance form they faced a termination of their transitional housing assistance. now fortunately we will able to help them resubmit their application and they qualified for an additional 18 months of continued rental assistance. so my question is, how does this denial rate compare to prior disasters and what factors might explain the difference, if any?
>> so i don't know what the -- where that rate compares, but i can tell you that the fundamental problem when it goes back to reducing the complexity of fema, one of the problems that we have is we immediately go out and say, call 1-800-61-fema. we blanket communities and the problem that i have with that is is that we need to change the dialogue on that. it needs to be call 1-800-621 -- if you meet the certain criteria to where aid can be rendered. it sets up a negative relationship with the disaster survivor and our agency right off the bat. now, if your citizens are not being afforded individual assistance because of simple technicalities, i would like to work with you directly on what those technicalities are so we can streamline whether it's the way the website is designed to register systems or maybe we got it wrong and i can refer you back to a case manager in the
joint field office in florida. i'd be happy to do that. we regularly have dialogue like that. i think it's incumbent on us to make sure we leave no stone unturned when it comes to the citizens. >> so would you say a process if a person did not have all the documentation they needed, do you know if the process is an automatic denial at that point? >> i wouldn't say it's a denial, but the problem is that people don't come prepared to the first phone call because we're not doing enough to say, when you call, make sure you have your insurance information, social security number. >> got you. >> and in some cases i think it's a messaging problem that we've got to get better at the first time. then maybe they come back and they're put in. but if there is a true fundamental flaw with the system and the way it's designed, i'm all ears. i'd be happy to understand it. >> okay. thank you for that. earlier you talked about texas
and it being a model. i believe that you said, you know, in order to appropriately respond, it has to be federally supported, state managed and locally executed, is that correct? >> right. >> you know, as i mention in my opening statement, you know, being no strange to hurricanes in florida, could you talk a little bit about the florida response and may perhaps we might be able to improve, and at which level? >> so governor scott's done a tremendous job as well. me calling out texas specifically is not shot at governor scott by any means or any of the other governors. florida is also a model. florida's also been a gold standard as well. they're also flushed with resources, too. you know, the thing about it is, what i appreciate is that when a governor takes over the response and the recovery and provides me clear outcome goals of what they're striving for, i can better the resources to them from a financial standpoint or
from physical resource standpoint. i would like fema to become more of a block granting agency to fund the response and allow the community to respond and recover the way they see fit. i don't know florida better than you, ma'am. i don't know florida better than governor scott. so how do i get the authorities and arrange the support down to where florida can recover the way florida wants to recover and puerto rico can recover the way puerto rico wants to recover. it's my goal to provide technical expertise to the director, who is going to be testifying with you today to say, hey, here are some best practices. here is the way to use this funding to ultimately create a more resilient florida. i'm tired of going back into communities as an emergency manager and repeating this vicious cycle of things get blown out, we repair it, things get blown out, we repair it. that's why i believe we have to do more mitigation on the front end to prevent these things. the insurance gap is only growing. it's frustrating. because when people are
uninsured or let their insurance lapse like what we saw in california, they paid off their morning, the fire comes in, burns down their house, they're trying to have a little extra money in retirement as a result, then that becomes an individual assistance problem. my individual assistance program grows daily. the need for fema is growing daily. i want to go the opposite direction but we can't do it alone. >> thank you. i yield back. >> gentlelady yields. mr. higgins is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, mr. long, for your continued service and general jackson as well. mr. kelly, thank you for being here today. i represent south louisiana, gentlemen, and we are certainly well-experienced regarding hurricanes and natural disasters. and the recovery thereafter. the preparation prior. my state provided support to texas, prestaging a rescue
operation, sheltering prior to harvey and in the wake of harvey. i personally went into texas immediately after harvey on the thursday morning and participated in rescue operations on the ground in texas. i'd like to talk about infrastructure challenges in the continental united states versus puerto rico, but regarding the process for reimbursement to the states for domestic response, mr. long, how do you -- what do you believe is an acceptable timeframe fro reimbursement and how can fema improve the process for reimbursement to states that at their own expense, sometimes tremendous expense, immediately participate in sheltering and rescue operations in the wake of a natural disaster? >> so we've started to look at and something that we've implemented kind of after post-katrina is expedited public assistance payments down.
particularly if there are liquidity issues or issues to pay for the emergency services right off the bat, which i believe is a success. we need to continue to do it. always we have to protect against waste, you know, waste or inaccurate funding and that type of thing. >> do you think the reimbursement process that we hope to improve would be included in your vision for reform and streamlining the operations? where greater availability of block grants to governors and give them the opportunity to make these decisions and be your filter so we get fema out of it and allow the governors of the 50 sovereign states greater flexibility on how to respond quickly? >> absolutely. and we have to do it -- it would be a phase delicate process to make sure that we, you know, we're protecting the taxpaying dollar but we're affording the governor to truly find ways to be resilient.
i believe governors can do business quicker and nor innovatively than the federal government. >> i agree and support that effort and hope to be part of a legislative effort to make that happen. general jackson, regarding infrastructure post-storm, houston, one of the most advanced cities in the nation, certainly by any measure, and yet in the city of houston, both air traffic control towers at the two major airports in houston were down after harvey, and the first responders, of course commercial traffic was shut down, but first responders, air traffic was handled through the herman memorial hospital air traffic control tower. they have a helipad, of course, at their airport. and it struck me as -- in the continental united states, the level of construction and infrastructure is quite
different from for instance in puerto rico, the island of puerto rico. and yet even in texas, in houston, air traffic control towers were down immediately after harvey. for first responders to use. so regarding the standards for grid construction, for instance, in puerto rico, my understanding -- my sources advise me that prior to the storm, approximately 20% of the grid was town down in puerto rico, it correct? >> congressman, the grid had some significant deferred maintenance issues and significant oferability issues before irma hit. it caused some damage to the grid that wasn't fully repaired before maria came in and further damaged the grid. >> so your efforts in puerto rico, have you essentially established -- restored the grid to its prestorm performance? >> congressman, the stafford act allows us to restore the grid in
its current configuration, but, in fact, the grid in puerto rico is about 44 years old. the average grid in the rest of the united states is about 15 years old. so as we've gone and repaired the lines and the towers and all the components of the grid, and it's only transmission and distribution, we haven't been given any authority to work generation, other than temporary generation that we've used to augment repair operations. we're continuing to build that back. it's going to be a much better grid than it was when we inherited it just because of the state that it was in when we took over the restoration effort. so it is -- it's not changing in configuration. so we're not burying lines where lines were strung with transmission towers beforehand, but we are replacing what was damaged with modern equipment, up to code. the puerto rican grid had about 15 types of transformers, the industry standard is four. as we've had to piece this back
together, we've had to put different components back in the system which is going to make it a more efficient system when we are done. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. keating. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank all of you for your service. this is titled lessons learned. part of what i want to get into is that those lessons learned should be geared towards mitigation and prevention in the future. of disasters. and in that case, i also want to associate myself with everything that is being said by the other members, but i want to gear in on my district in particular. it's probably the most coastal area. it's the south shore, the south coast, cape cod and the islands, if it's not one of the biggest coastal areas, it's one of them, and i just want to address some of the important issues. and i think this boils down to, we can't be expecting all of you to do more and we're going to have to do more the way the
cycle of climate change is going with less. but in my district, you know, there are some examples. we're doing a study on -- 701 study on the cape cod cancel,alt has been so delayed. we have two connecters to almost 300,000 people in cape cod area. only two bridges. there is a study with that that is just so delayed. it's ongoing but delayed. the commonwealth of massachusetts is ready and willing to work with us and that's holding things back. the potential for disaster is enormous. we have a nuclear plant rated one of the third worst in terms of safety built on the coast, a fukushima-designed plant, yet those two bridgies can cut off access to those people if there is any type of disaster. on a daily basis, the dredging issues in our area are enormous. that affects rescue missions and
dealing with it. number one, particularly general jackson, we deal with the army corps daily in our area. the personnel there, the administration there, the communication is excellent. we work together. we strategize together. they do a great job, but, again, the real issue, and when we talk to them, we don't have enough money to do this. there is no way to prioritize for everything that's of equal or greater need. we have to do a job here. now, i've helped with appropriation, a process here targeting in areas without ear marking, but we've been able to do that and work together. i understand the constraints that all of you are sitting under if you have to comment about not being funded adequately, not just this administration but administrations before, sort of, they don't encourage you to say you're not adequately funded. but the plain fact is you just can't do -- and i think it's
irrefutable, you just can't do all of these things with less. a couple of things. number one, i'd ask you if you could outside the hearing in the next few weeks maybe deal with our staff here on that end. we're dealing so well with your staff in the regional level, honestly, working these things out. and also, if you could just comment generally, if you could, with the factor that not having enough resources to please everyone without talking about budget numbers and getting yourself maybe in compromised. how important that is. if you could, general. >> congressman, sure, i'd be glad to do that. first of all, you know, authorized but unconstructed projects are top $96 billion in we are only to generate slightly over a billion every year in construction funding because there is not a limitless federal budget. there are a lot of demands. a lot of hard decisions have to be made.
that's just the fact of what we have to deal with every day. what we are doing is working very closely with the administration as they're putting forth their infrastructure package to the congress. we've identified -- you talked about the speed in which we operate. we've identified or help to identify a number of legislative proposals that will help us move faster. we're working a number of proposals inside the administration to allow us to operate more quickly and we're participating in all of the different initiatives that the administration put forth, specifically on regulatory streamlining, permit streamlining, environmental review streamlining. we're fully par dispative in all of that to try to move faster than we have been able to in the past. >> i'll certainly work with you on that. my time is running out. but i would like to say on the flood insurance as well, we have questions outside of that where there is good bipartisan work being done. >> so we need a lot of work on
the nfif reauthorizatiop reauth. it's not a healthy program. no doubt about it. with regards to funding, the bread and butter of emergency management is the state and local levels of emergency management and government. it's not just whether or not fema's got enough money, it's our governors and state -- not even governors, state legislatures, you know, really taking a look as a result of going through the season and saying, does their state emergency management agency have one what it needs? because a majority of the events that the locals and states are going to face, fema's not going to be involved. >> thank you. in our state we do a pretty good job in that regard. i yield back. >> i know mr. long has a hard stop at 12:30 so i ask the remainder of questions to be kept within the time period. the chair now recognizes mr. rutherford from florida. >> thank you, mr. chairman. general jackson, i represent the
three coastal counties in northeast florida, nassau, duval and st. john's. and my question is is beach renourishment and sand dune construction top rated differently from other mitigation from storms? >> congressman, it's not treated any differently. >> okay. because here is my question, and i was really glad to hear you say that we're looking for ways to speed the process up. colonel kirk has been great to work with, him and his personnel, but one of the issues that we're looking at, i have homes -- one home that is literally already fallen into the ocean and many more that -- that are really on the edge of falling in. literally. i mean, they've already been undermined. and fdef, the florida department
of environmental protection is working closely with us. but an 18-month study seems like a long time when your house is hanging on the edge. so my question is are there other ways that we can get funding to the state that after they pick up their piece of it, as they should, is there other ways that we can get that funding to them more quickly so that we can address these houses that are really on the verge? >> congressman, i can tell you right now, we're wide open to any ideas that you or your staff might have, as well as florida and the state government there. we've been in a number of discussions with them about how to move faster. a lot of times the study process that you referred to that takes some period of time is driven by the environmental very view process, which i think the administration has been looking at very closely to try to get done much more quickly and with less ability for other federal agencies to have longstanding
decisions that cause us to redo different portions of it. we're going to work really hard on that. i think the supplemental that congress pass has given us broad discretion to look at areas that are being studied, need to be studied or funding for nourishment. they've been very skpisk about waving 902 or the cost limits imposed based on the authorization. when we build the beaches back, if we build them to full design, full construction requirements. i think there is a lot of great potential for the projects you're talking about with the supplemental the congress passed. >> thank you very much for that. i look forward to working with you on that. mr. long, i have to tell you, as a first responder myself, i'm particular with prepositioning equipment and the mitigation after some of these horrible storms. and, look, the last thing you want to do is preposition your equipment on an island that's about to get hit by a category 5 storm.
so that -- that's a bad idea. but i will tell you that there was some prepositioning that went on of some goods that were prepositioned in a city that i represent, jacksonville, florida. as you know, i think the american maritime industry did a fantastic job in response to puerto rico's needs. in fact, they had prepositioned container units in jacksonville that within days of the port opening, those goods were on the port, which actually allowed the mayor of san juan to stand there and criticize the response with thousands of container units stacked up behind her. the challenge was, as most people know, and i'd like everyone to know, the challenge was distribution. and you mentioned that. the communications. the transportation. all of that got in the way of distribution of goods and
services. and as somebody who has been responsible for that in the past, i understand completely what you all were facing. and so i -- i would mention that, you know, the jones act was so politicized that there were -- there were folks on the news talking about how quickly the president suspended the jones act in texas and how long it took for puerto rico. it was a one-day difference. i went back and checked. one-day difference. in addition to that, so much misinformation about the jones act and the cause of goods and services. and folks were actually improperly describing how the jones act even works, talking about -- i heard an individual in jacksonville on the news talking about the reason it costs so much is because foreign vessels have to sail into an american port, drop those goods
off and then reload those goods on to an american flag ship and sail it down to san juan. wrong. those foreign ships can sail directly into san juan, and they do all the time. and so, you know, there was a lot of politicization of what was going on down there. but i would like to ask one thing about the contract issue. would it help if we created a database of these bad actors through these contracts? >> well, i believe that the database and the system exists, it just wasn't put in prior to us reaching out. >> oh, okay. >> there was a resource drain. one thing i'd like to follow up on regarding distribution and commodities. this is the story that's not being told. as i've said, we've hired approximately 1,300 puerto ricans to be part of the response and recovery and the future arm of emergency
management. what we're preparing to do for the 2018 hurricane season is, now we're starting to build a true network of emergency management at the commonwealth and local level that did not exist, in my opinion. so what we're doing is we've planned a series of training and exercises that are going to culminate in a full-scale exercise in this coming onwith the governor, with the mayors, specifically designed around the distribution of commodities and also reconfiguring some contracts. you don't execute a contract and the ship shows up immediately. it takes seven, eight days to fully execute the comfort and motion and ships like that. so we're doing a tremendous amount of work that is not being talked about and it's not fema doing it for puerto rico and the commonwealth, it is we're working with the commonwealth to make sure that they will have the state level and local level capability to manage this disaster in the future so that we reduce our footprint in that manner. >> thank you. i have several other questions, but my time is up. i yield back, mr. chairman.
>> the gentleman yields. the chair recognizes the gentleman from rhode island, mr. langevin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. thompson and members of the panel here today, thank you very much for your testimony. let me start with administrator long and general jackson. climate change continues to increase the incidents of major storms and flooding, especially threatening the lives and livelihoods of residents in coastal states like my home state of rhode island. administrator long and general jackson, what steps are fema and the army corps of engineers taking to prepare coastal communities like mine for this increased risk and mitigate the damage of future disasters? >> i'll start. there are provisions in mitigation plan. so we require states and local governments to have mitigation plans. they're signed off on by fema. just kind of your understanding of how you want to mitigate for future disasters. there are sea level rise
provisions that are in those mitigation standards that are there. the problem goes back to, you've got to get hit with a disaster to be able to execute your mitigation plan if you want fema mitigation funding. so the problem we have to solve, in my opinion, is we've got to get the predisaster mitigation up front so that people can execute those mitigation plans before the disaster occurs or things like sea level rising start to occur. >> congressman, the after -- after superstorm sandy, the corps worked with all the states in the northeastern part of the united states and experts all round the world to identify coastal risk and published a comprehensive study which identified a lot of different risk areas and the federal government and the states and localities could do to address just what you talked about. we're in the process of working with all the states on the northeast side that were impacted by sandy to try to address those mitigation issues and mitigate the risk to the
states on the coastline. with the corps, we incorporate everything that we know about climate change and sea level rise in our designs. so as we conduct studies on coastal resilience and areas that we know we have significant risk, we incorporate everything we know about that. those are implemented into our design standards when we put those projects forward to the congress for authorization. >> i think it's essential that we be as forward-leaning, as forward-thinking as we can on this issue, preparing for climate change, because it is here, and what we can do to mitigate it is going to make everyone better off in the long run. that's, you know, that's probably a whole another discussion about what we really need to do long term to reverse the effects of climate change, but let me start this. natural disasters like hurricanes and floods and fires that we saw in 2017 certainly were devastating to countless people and communities in their path.
for individuals with critical health conditions or disabilities, these effects are magnified sometimes significantly. defeat requirements that disaster planning consider and include accommodations for individuals who require accessible modes of communication or transportation, medical devices or other types of assistance, too many, we found, are left to fend for themselves when catastrophe strikes. so, administrator long, in your testimony, you mentioned the importance of learning lessons about meeting the needs of survivors with access and functional needs. what lessons have fema and its partners learned from last year's disasters, what changes have been made to procedural guidance and how are these recommendations monitored for compliance and implementation ensure that people with
disabilities are carefully considered in disaster planning, response and recovery? >> well, first of all, i believe as a nation, not just fema, but all entities need to bake in inclusion and functional and access needs as part of their dna every day. you know, i can't force a city to be ada, you know, compliant, but what i can do is start to organize recovery dollars that go into communities after the fact or mitigation dollars to help communities and emergency managers achieve a higher level of functional access needs. most recently i hired a lady named linda who is now fema's office of disability coordination integration. i asked her to go out and understand is work across the lines to say, look, when all this funding comes down, how do we actually help these communities improve facilities in a manner that become more functional and access needs compliant to ensure inclusion, not only through the future of
the infrastructure that is built but also within our shelters? we have a lot of work to do as a nation, here, again, this problem is far greater than fema, but we're working to address it every day. i'd be happy to set you up with linda. these phenomenal. she most recently was in south korea. she's a paralympian who has won i think 15 gold medals. shows a phenomenal lady and very well-versed. i think you're going to see changes in the way we handle functional and access needs. >> thank you. i look forward to that meeting. and i'd like to further continue our discussion on this topic. i have several more, but my time is expired. i yield back at this point but i look forward to submitting my questions for the record and hopefully you can get back to me as soon as possible on these and i look forward to a continued discussion on this topic. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> the gentleman yields. the chair recognizes the gentleman from nebraska, mr. bacon. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank all three of you
for your leadership. you were put in a tough situation with the terrible hurricane, the airport down, the roads, the power, i mean, what a challenge. i know you've been working this very hard. my first very is for administrator long and general jackson. what would be the criteria for considering mission complete? >> we're still there. we're going to be there for years. >> be there for years. >> you know, it's too early to grade myself or say mission complete. bottom line is that we're going to be administering dollars to help these communities overcome for years. and the one thing that i think that we're missing here is that there weren't just four events last year. >> right. >> right now my staff is diligently working in 14 different states. last year we picked up a new event every three days. every three days. >> just to clarify, you think you'll be in puerto rico for years? >> absolutely. >> okay. got it. general jackson, anything else with that? >> congressman, i mean, we are
in puerto rico now. i have an area office there. we have federal projects there. we work with the government there on a daily basis. so we'll always be in puerto rico and we'll be supporting fema as long as mr. long has mission assignments for us to follow up on. >> if i may ask you both, what would be the largest unexpected challenge that you had in puerto rico. is there one thing that took you the most surprise? >> getting the power back on solves so many problems. bottom line is, that was the toughest challenge. i do not control an aging system. i do not control deferred maintenance on a power grid. i have to fix what i've inherited and we rapidly put forward the mission assignment to the army corps of engineers. theis is the only situation where the army corps of engineer is rebuilding the grid.
we have to get to a model where the grid is built by private industry. similar to the way it was done in california, et cetera. >> the liquid efforts or issues as a whole are very difficult. it compromises simple things such as e-mamac agreements. people demand 100% right off the bat to do work when you bring in private contractors or other support for fear they may not be repaid. we're working closely with the governor, working very closely with the treasury to make sure that we solve some of these problems so the response and recovery doesn't slow down. >> okay. one final question for general jackson. what regulatory relief is necessary to help you speed up these kinds of efforts? is there something we can do to pull some of the regulatory problems off your shoulders? >> congressman, i think the administration has already taken
a look at that and they're really looking at how to streamline all environmental reviews that ultimately result in permitting and other things that we're involved in. i think we're well on track and everybody's been participating fully in that effort. >> knowing that your time is short, i'll yield back. thank you. >> the chair recognizes mr. bonnie watson -- >> thank you, sir. more than a decade of hurricane katrina, your office is still involved in audit disputes, including efforts to get a $2 billion settlement with roads and infrastructure of the city overturned. do you think that there is a limit on how long after an event audit should last? is it an inefficient use of resource to monday morning quarterback in years-long audits more than a decade later? are the communities affected
this summer going to face decades of audits and no relief? >> well, think we have to follow out the process, and the process that's put in place is just for due diligence purposes. we have to follow out the process. but when there are audits in question, and i've seen this as a former director of the alabama emergency management agency, when there are deobligations in question or audits in question where there are large amounts of money looming over a community that may be deobligated then it can impact their credit ratings going forward. so i do think that we have to move quickly to make sure things like that don't occur. we have to move expeditiously. >> but do you agree, sir, that two years is not moving expeditiously, that it is too long? >> i don't -- >> is fema doing anything to sort of -- >> which situation are you specifically referring to? >> i'm talking about katrina. that's what i was asking about.
the $2 billion dispute that's been in audit for two years. >> i would have to get back -- we would have to work with you. i'm not sure which one it is, unless i can defer to mr. kelly. >> is it the water and sewer audit? >> yes. >> okay. >> listen, may we have a specific update? >> sure. >> on why this is taking so long. what is being done? why are you lacking the resource to respond to it after two years? and when can we expect relief here? mr. long, can we get that. >> yes, absolutely, but i would also refer to mr. kelly with oig. >> yes. and that audit was initiated and completed within roughly a year of the additional obligations for that water and sewer project. very little was done immediately after katrina. the inspector general's office has changed its --
>> thank you. >> style of auditing. we try to be more proactive and much closer to when the money is being spent, not ten years after it's spent. >> this is all good hypothetically, conceptually and all that stuff. we're talking about communities that are ravaged, people who have been displaced, people who can't get jobs, people become ill because of these terrible hurricanes. i mean, look at what's happened in both the virgin islands and in puerto rico. for the life of me, mr. long, maybe you can answer this question, with all the resources, with all the armed forces, all the rescue emergency and whatever else there is that this great country the united states of america has at its disposal. if you can't get up a road to deliver supplies, vitally needed for people to live, why couldn't you air lift them in or do something else?
why was that situation so inadequately addressed and why is it still so inadequately addressed? >> first of all, ma'am, with all due respect, i believe we live in the great country on the globe and the amount of resources -- >> i never suggested that we didn't, sir. >> the amount of resources that the federal government put down, the amount of -- the lengths to which our government goes to help disaster victims can always be improved but it is unmatched, it is second to none in any other country on globe. >> you know what, i don't need you to make excuses, i need you to tell me why you failed there. >> we haven't failed, ma'am. >> yes, you did. >> no, we did not. the bottom line is that my agent city made a hurricaculean effor. when you're talking about island jurisdictions and the airport systems are completely blown out, the ports are completely blown out. i don't own the cranes. i don't own the airports.
we have to rebuild airports. we move rapidly. >> you have collaborative -- you have collaborative capacity and that collaborative capacity did not serve the citizens of puerto rico well. so my concern, it is not just you, sir, it is why did the united states of america, with all of its vast resources, not do its very best for people who are, indeed, our people? with that, i yield back. >> the administrator has very limited time so i'm going to recognize the three, but if you could keep your questions within a short period of time, it would be very much appreciated. mrs. gonzalez coleman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank the army corps of engineers and all the hard
work they're doing on the island. we acknowledge that. we understand there is still a lot to do. i want to thank you for your being always available for calls, for meetings with mayors and all the people that are in the island. i really do that personally because i've been calling you mostly every day. to ask you about different issues. my first question will be, what resources will be necessary to you to finish the work in 30 days? i'm talking to the corps of engineers in terms of the restoration of the power. >> ma'am, we have the materials that we need to finish that that are on order and they're either in transit or on the island right now ready for distribution to contractors. they will be continuing to flow on to the island until the end of april. so until we get everything on the ground, that's a physics problem.
everything had to come off production lines. we had to special order material to meet the unique specifications of the power grid. we have enough linemen on the ground to do the work, it's just a matter of them working through and energizing the lines and getting the pieces and parts put back together. there are really no other resources that we need that i can think of. everything that we've asked for that we've needed to do this mission we've been provided. and it's just a matter of having to put the physics of putting together a very complicated system that is going to take us some time to finish. >> my concern with that is that you are downsizing the group of the crew of your private contractors on the island. one is going to be gone from the island the 19th of march and the other the 7th of april. so that means that the resources are not going to be there to help us finish out the last mile of the process. so how is the island going to
feel that their issues are going to be solved in terms of the connection of those center parts of the island when you're downsizing the army corps presence to those areas? that's my main concern. doesn't say that prepa is going to take charge of that because it would take a month or a month and a half for them to do the contracting process with the memorandum of understanding with other utilities in the states. >> ma'am, when we were originally asked to do this, there were no mutual assistance workers available. now there are almost th1,000. but mr. torrez and the team, the unified command group look at the numbers of line workers required required to dot the mission based upon what's left. they look at those every day. decisions being made. fema, the governor of puerto
rico are all involved in making. there could by one company that we have that is going to be done in april, maybe they get extended a little bit longer. we're looking at all of those things every single day to make sure the that the progress of the work that we have in front of us is not impacted at all by a lack of people. there is no lack of people. even though we're downsizing the big contracts that we awarded in october, it's only because that the numbers that we have there aren't needed anymore. and they've been replaced by mutual assistance workers, who should have been there in the first place. so that's not -- the changing of who and is doing the work is not -- is not impacting our ability to get the overall grid restored as fast as we can get it restored. >> i just urge you to reconsider the downsizing of the army corps on the island. i think that we don't have enough personnel to do that kind of work and it will take longer to the recovery process in those
areas just because of the downsizing. i do recommend you extend the current contracts until the time prepa or the mutual alliance -- linemen will be arriving on the island. remember, last weeks ago the winter storm just took away 68 of those linemen to new york and pennsylvania. so we can't continue to be waiting for personnel to arrive on the island. >> ma'am, we're not waiting. everybody is there. they're just going to be different people. they're not -- and in some cases it's the same subcontractors that are working for different contractors. so, you know, prepa has about 2,200 line workers on the ground now that includes four different -- their own organic workforce and three other subcontractors that are doing work. >> the gentlelady's time is expired. for the last two members, we're about 20 minutes past the administrator's hard stop, so if you keep your time at a minimum.
ms. velasquez is recognized. >> i will make it simple, mr. chairman, if i can send you, mr. long, some of my questions so that you can send your answers to your my office. general jackson, i hear what you're saying to the congress lady from puerto rico, the gentlelady from puerto rico. you're downsizing and you're allowing for prepa to continue to do the work with some of the subcontractors that they have. do you think that will prepa -- given the conditions of prepa itself, should that provide any comfort to the people of my hometown where hurricane maria made landfall, and to this day they have no electricity? >> congresswoman, as we discussed yesterday, i am confident only because the
experts that are making the decisions on how we determine -- how we apportion the workforce are fully confident that based upon demonstrated compatibility that the line workers that are there both from prepa's organic workforce and the subcontractors they have are more than capable of doing the work and are continuing to demonstrate their ability to do that. >> and why is that that being the town that where maria made landfall, that six months later, what is it about this town? >> congresswoman, i think its biggest problem is it was the point of impact and had sustained the greatest damage. >> i've been there four times. i never saw any crew until just my last visit. in any case, general jackson, i really want to thank you for getting back to me yesterday. in our telephone call where i raised some of the issues that the people are facing today.
my question to you is regarding puerto rico's preparedness for the upcoming hurricane season, particularly in the areas of energy. it seems to me that no matter how much money we put into that reconstruction of the grid, unless we ensure the entire grid is strengthened to withstand category 4 or 5, we are just throwing money away. can you comment on the repair work being done so far? >> congresswoman, i'd be glad to do that. the mission that we were given was to restore the power and get people the lights back on as fast as possible. so that's what we're doing. what you're describing is a more long-term goal that we're working on. we're working as part of fema's team, as part of the governor's team to help the governor develop a long-term recovery strategy, which is going to take into account all the things that you discussed, which would be things like taking the power generation capabilities, making them more modernized, putting
them closer to where the population centers are, which allows us to more economically bury lines where now as administrator long talked about, these lines crisscross the island, and that's what the power transmission and distribution system is based upon. that's in the works now and will be presented to the administration at some time at the end of the center. >> thank you. mr. kelly, this week puerto rico is actively seeking a policy that will weaken the puerto rico energy commission and will severely undermine generally accepted regulatory and accountability practices. as the inspector general, can you provide us some detail in the importance of oversight of government institution? if this type of entity is weakened, how do we ensure good stewardship of taxpayers' funds? >> ma'am, that's going to be very difficult to do.
if you reduce oversight, especially on an organization that has known risks, that is a recipe for disaster. >> thank you. >> the gentlelady's time has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> the chair recognizes ms. placket. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you ranking member for this. i'm going to try to as well bring a bunch of questions in writing which i hope you will respond to as quickly as possible. i know that with bureaucracy it can take some time, but the faster these answers come back to us, the better i think for everyone. administrator long, one of the things that i brought up in the opening statement, and i'm hoping you can give me some definition for, is who is responsible and what is the timeline for the modular units that are going to the schools as well as to the hospitals in the virgin islands? >> so ultimately, in my opinion, the governor, you know, of the virgin islands is responsible.
it's my job to make sure that he has the mechanisms and the funding to do so and we're working very closely with him, but i'd be happy to respond -- >> i would appreciate that. >> about the whole entire process. >> because it seems like a circular discussion. the department of education says they're waiting for fema. fema says they're waiting for this. so the people want to know who it is. >> absolutely. >> so i appreciate that. in terms of the discussion about full federal cost share, you have received the request, i know the white house has received the request. do we know when there will be an answer as to whether or not the virgin islands will receive an extension of time for full cost share for debris removal? >> i do not know. obviously i don't control the white house, but i can obviously reach out to them as well to see where we are. >> i wanted you to know is it you were aware, however, under the ins lear acts, all federal agencies have the discretion to wave look a -- for federal funding programs.
has fema sought to exercise this expressed statutory discretion to wave the local match for all u.s. disaster funding for the virgin islands? >> i believe that's a request that has to come in from the governor and i'm not sure we received any request to do so. i'll go back and check. >> okay. the reason i'm asking this, of course, the insular areas have long had underfunding and underinclusion across a litany of programs and when you're facing a disaster such as this, that kind of expressed statutory discretion that you would have would seem to be the appropriate time to do so. and, you know, this is, again, what you just said was something that, again, i brought up in my opening statement is that you're waiting for a request from governor map. and often times i'm not sure if governors and other individuals in these areas know that they can make these specific requests. and the tension between fema and the local agencies are such that you wonder, you know, our
governor is spending money on having outside consultants come and consult him about what is he supposed to be requesting, and it seems that it's not the most efficient use of funding. >> congresswoman, so, you know, my approach is, and my fcos who play an incredibly important role, i've asked them and in their training their sole purpose is to go out and say, governor, this is what you're entitled to based on this event. if they're not doing that, then that's on me. i can go back and check. >> right. >> but we never hold back things. it's our job to administer the stafford act and the policies that are out there. we have no reason to hold anything back. fema is not the enemy of a governor or of the disaster survivor. >> well, under fema, just that last question, when you mentioned the stafford act, what is your position and do you have a -- would you support an extension of the fema -- of stafford act language so it is
not only bringing resilience to those things that are considered emergency, which is defined as power, water, communications and education, but would also extend to other public assistance projects such as roads and public housing? >> i'm not sure i understand the question because we do fix roads is and -- >> no, no, no, so what i'm asking is an amendment to the stafford act which would provide for imbedding resilience. the resilience that you are now going to bring to areas such as power and water and communications -- >> right. >> -- does not extend necessarily to roads and public housing. >> right. >> would you be in favor and supportive of an amendment that addresses that in the stafford act to bring that as well? >> i'm all for resilience, let me be honest, i'm all for resilience because i want to reduce the job. we need to work fema out of a job through resilience and mitigation. i believe that the 428 program, which is something that is on the table with the governor as well, allows for more
alternative projects and resilience projects to be built in. the stafford act may allow us to do that for the roadway systems, but that's a conversation that we can have offline if you'd like and i can explain that. >> >>ed -- the gentlelady's time has expired. >> i'd like to put three questions on the record for mr. brock long to hear. as it relates to houston and texas, answer directly to me, writing and by phone on the fema denials and whether or not you will automatically extend those who are in the hotels. the importance of working with local government. that's a difficulty. i know by the stafford act you work with the state. but the local governments are really on the ground working with the day-to-day complaints. and then i think one of the solutions to these large contracts that you have that have not been helpful to us is a contracting with local entities, sometimes the entire region is not devastated.
there are local contractors that can do a very important job, housing, food services, obviously debris. we know about that. but think it's important for fema to look counselling, case work can be done by a local entity and i'd like to reach back to you on those questions. and thank you for having your staff be at my meeting on march 5th. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you. i want to thank the witnesses for your patience. i know this went well over schedule, but you stood by and answered all of our questions. i appreciate that very much. i'd just like also to say that major general jackson, i look forward to working with you on the reservoir project and to administrator long, the first bill i got passed in the congress was a fema reform bill after katrina. so i think there will be some great lessons learned from this, things that we can work together to make it more streamlined, effective and efficient and i want to thank you for the job