tv FEMA Disaster Preparedness CSPAN April 11, 2018 8:04pm-9:45pm EDT
cable television companies. and today we continue to breng you unfiltered coverage of congress. the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> next, fema administrator brock long testifies how the agency is preparing for future and national disasters. spoke about lessons learned followed by a federal response to the hurricanes and allocating housing resources to the states. the homeland security committee, this is an hour and 40 minutes.
>> the hearing will come to order. i can see that most of the audience must be on the house side with mr. zuckerberg. i want to welcome administrator brock long from fema. my written statement be entered into the record. i have a couple of opening comments t. is without a doubt, particularly, when you take a look at the massive problem you had to deal with within days of being confirmed with three hurricanes and the wild fires in california that there's been some dramatic improvement made and continuous improvement within fema's administration handling these disasters since katrina. that's a good thing. there's no doubt about perfection and opportunity for improvement. that's what this hearing is about. take a look at you know, what could have been improved upon
and what do we need to do moving forward and i know administrator long will talk about his strategic plan. i notice in the strategic plan a watch word is disasters should be federally supported, state mandated and locally executed. the only bone i would pick is i would change the order of that and i would say state managed, locally executed and federally supported. the reason i point it out and if we can put up our chart. when you take a look at the number of federal disaster deck c la rations over the last 70 years or so. a dramatic increase over the last three or four decades. it is interesting to note that the high-water marks are the year before a presidential re-election. don't know if there's
correlation there or not. again, it's a dramatic increase. my concern is that local state governments look to the federal government to come in and the federal government has to when they have massive disasters. if state and local governments rely on fema time after time, and addicted to them. they arele they are less inclined to produce that culture of emergency preparedness. i would like you to address the moral hazard in fema doing a better and better job. what we want is state and governments to be completely prepared so it can be state-managed, locally-executed and federally-supported. and with that i'll turn it over to the ranking member, senator mccaskill. >> thank you for being here
today. i want to start with the positive and recognize the progress that's been made since katrina. we have all witnessed a much more efficient and a much more effective fema from the lessons-learned in katrina and other catastrophes. however, i can't get through without talking some of the problems we continue to see. especially on contracting. we are -- i'm sure you're familiar with the report that we issued this week or last week on the emergency tarps and sheeting contract. it was really problematic. they approved this -- fema approved this contract without vetting. 72 million contractors with no relevant past performance which have existed for two months.
did not take appropriate steps to assess the capabilities and had to cancel contracts with both companies due to failure to deliver. it's not the only serious contracting problem we had in the aftermath of the hurricane season. $156 million contract to dlooifr meals to the people of puerto rico. contracted with a company that had one full-time employee and a history of contract cancellations. all someone had to do is check and do some basic due diligence to see this company had serious contracting issues with the federal government in the past and i don't know how you give 1$156 million contract to a company that had one employee. that contract had to be cancelled. all of these contracts were at a
cost to the federal government and a painful cost to the people who needed tarps and meals. we had tornados in southeast missouri and extensive flooding in wisconsin and the hurricane season begins in two months. i would love to spend time talking about what steps you have taken particularly on the contracting front and we have to expect that you might be slammed with three hurricanes. you are dealing with texas, florida and puerto rico simultaneously. you have to prepare for that. that's what this is all about. i mean, we now know that that can very easily happen and clearly with even to anticipate it. i also would like to address the 2019 budget proposal that was put forward in february. the proposed budget was stunning
to me. the president wanted to cut funding for counter-terrorism grants is eliminate exercise programs that give emergency responders the skills they need for natural disasters. federal flood mapping, programs that are important for preparation of future natural disasters. it does not build the culture of preparedness that i know you embrace. toi i want to have a frank discussion on hole you to move forward. i want to end by complimenting the federal workforce and the national guard who appropriately are always on the front line for natural disaster response is and i know how proud of the missouri national guard and the work they do and the training they do to deal with natural disasters. i hope they are not especially in the hurricane season and
tornado season, that they are not in anyway depleted in terms of their ability to respond to the natural disasters because of a political pulling to the border. >> if you will stand and raise your right hand. >> dow spear that the system you will give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing truth so help you god? >> i do. >> senator mccaskill beat me to extending the gratitude to the workforce. i would love for to you mention that in your opening statement. it wasn't just fema employees or dhs, these were individuals around the federal government. different agency that is came and manned that operation center 24/7 for a couple of months at least. we want to thank you for your service. you started and you were hit
with something that nation has never seen in terms of disaster-management. so thank you for that. brock long, administrator to the federal agency, responding to natural disasters and facing the united states including in 2017, the hurricanes, harvey, irma and -- >> chairman, ranking members thank you for allowing me to be here. this is the fifth time i've been here for nine months since coming on board. i want to thank you. emergency management and disaster response requirestous
be uniphied and communicating to you and you have respond. thank you for the three sup apply mentals a supplementals -- and with puerto rico, they are needed to be able to build a stronger and more resilient puerto rico going forward. i look forward to continuing to ask you for your support on several different authorities that i believe we need as a nation to push forward and make a better prepared nation. the magnitude and put the numbers around the manager any attitude of what we went through. 15% of the population was in some way shape or form impacted by the events from harvey, irma and ma are i ya aria and the ca wildfires. the system to kick start recover. we can't make people whole but to kick start it. to put it in context.
more than half of the survey sor-- survivors registered over the past years put it in the last few months. we are putting more and more money down everyday and more and more people in different places. as of april 10, fema -- down to those who are impacted. 11 billion gone to the commonwealth of puerto rico alone. in addition -- and i appreciate the thanks towards my staff. they are working disasters in 35 states. they work around the clock. they sacrifice their personal lives to take care of others. it's an honor to lead these guys everyday. major lessons learned.
survival and redundant communication we have to tackle with the private vendors. we have to have the ability to operate and communicate. we lose that. we need all hazards. we have a streamline of fragmented recovery process. it comes from 17 different agencies and too difficult to see who you are entitled to and put it to work. i want to hit the reset button. it is not the federal housing management agency or the electricity management agency. i need greater granting authority to do housing more effectively and efficiently to allow governors greeting ability to control their own destiny. training emergency mangers all over the country is the most important thing we need. we need the increased state manager cost and allow them to
hire labor, and consulting staff to august mment the staff. more investment -- going to reduce disaster cost and i have other ideas that we can change about why do we repair public facilities that can be covered by private insurance? if you want to reduce disaster cost we should look at things like that. going forward, we put in place a plan, we took 2,300 comments from the constituents and taking lessons learned from 2017, we do a trend analysis and arrive at three major goals, build a true culture preparedness which we don't have. we have to increase the access to tangible training to zecitizs to cpr.
one in four will do cpr. increasing the need for individual assistance on fema's back end. too many people letting mortgages lapse to have extra money in the retirement. so more drain on fema on the individual assistance side. so we have to cover the insurance gap. that's the first line of defense. not fema assistance. we've got to in-- the go to, catastrophic disasters. the catastrophic earthquake in california or the -- because there's too much of a gap on the depending on fema to do things
like life sustaining commodities. ranking member in your report it points out we have to do pre-event contracts. not just at fema, we have to make sure state and local leader are putting pre-event contract ifs place that you would happily reimburse to do their own level of food, water, hygiene kits. if we have a cascade or large earthquake in california it's going to take time to be able mobilize forces to get there if we can get in. reduce the complexity of fema. i'm my own worst critic when it comes to doing things better. there are policies we can streamline. we have to streamline the disaster/survivor experience. the grantee experience and i'm empowering my staff to help me understand where to make those changes.
we had to perform 2.4 million home inspections this year. physically deploy people to look at 2.5 million homes. that's an arduous bureaucratic policy. it puts me in a tough spot. we have to protect tax paying dollars against fraud and we have to move at lightning speed. finally, in closing, there's a misunderstanding that recovery hasn't start in puerto rico. that's not the case. i was in puerto rico last week and met with the governor and my staff. we are pushing forward on 4/28 signed an agreement to do large-scale sector-based resilient work. it will force us to think what is the recovery outcome we are striving for so we can put tax paying money against that to strive for a collective vision
to make sure we don't with a you can through this whole situation again when hurricanes are going to hit in the future. i look forward to the dialogue today and the constant improvement. thank you. >> thank you, administrator long. i will be brief in questions. i did want you to detail more the 4/28 authority and how important it is. instead of thousands of grants creating a larger grant bucket. so you are streamlining that, so spend more time talking that if you would. >> so the program allows for more alternative procedures. it makes no sense to put tax paying dollars to fix the jurisdiction back to pre-disaster to go through it again. 4/28 is the way business is done. if i give you a budget, and tell
you to reach these x amount of milestones, you have to reach them against that budget so that we are calculating on how we move forward and push forward and if you manage it well, for example, if 4/28 is managed well in puerto rico, they can keep to do pre-disaster mitigation so there's an incentive built in. thousands of issues with the schools and water systems and many problems with the hospital system. instead of writing a single project work sheet to fix this road way breech and that one, that can be reversioned for the next 10 to 15 years over and over again, let's do one project work sheet to fix the infrastructure called roads, school, hospitals. >> spend more time explaining
how -- and the past and currently requires fema to build just rebuilt. kind of full replacement as oppose to let's build something more resilient. talk about your constraint that is still exist. >> so take the power grid, for example. one -- the power grid in puerto rico is old. four decades old. there are serious problems when it comes to power generation in general and the way that it is done. so the emergency process that we go there you to make sure that people can have power is the emergency process of getting the lights back on. the 4/28 process is going to allow the commonwealth as they are pushing to do things like replacing wooden poles so they are harder to blow down and wind
resistance. making improvements to better the system and i look at 4/28 and also i met with the governor matt from the virgin islands yesterday. this is an opportunity to bolster the economic capabilities. >> it is an exception to the rule and the rule is rebuild to what it was. >> which is insane from my standpoint. how much of what fema is rebuilding done as a complete replacement versus upgrading the standard. >> under the emergency work, it is a fraction of what needs to be done on the permanent side and tough remember you don't just build, expanding a lane out
here in d.c. takes years. we're talking about a lot of work ahead of us. and some of the initial estimates for puerto rico and the numbers will change as we dig in. between $40 billion and $50 billion as we encroach on this. it is important, chairman, that 4/28 is not a new program. we haven't educated governors and emergency managers on how the process works. there are projects used in louisiana as a result of the flooding and use in sandy, the greatest concern is that hopefully we hit the estimate right on the first go around when we enter into the agreement to fix the hospitals and schools. it's a more efficient process that allows for mitigation to be incorporated in as we go forward. >> thank you.
senator mccaskill. >> so should we require them to put up the polls with the money we give them? >> that's a question for the legislature. i don't have the authority to require a governor to do anything. >> the governor -- i mean -- there is way too much thought about this place and everybody in the elected office they are worried about the next election cycle. if it is federal money, and we're the ones on the hook for more federal money if they put back up the wooden polls that blow over again -- that seems that we should incen-- that the 10% more. maybe we do it with the carrot
and not the stick and that would be easier on the friction between local control and federal the krabting thing, i'm not going to put you through painful process of acknowledging how bad they were. i think you know. i don't know if you had a chance to read the contract proposal? >> no, ma'am. what i can say on the contracts. and i realize we have work. >> pretty obvious. >> i was in office two months before harvey hit. but the facts are we have 59 previous contracts in place before harvey hit as i understand it and that's based on historical need over the past 10 years or so. obviously, it wasn't enough going into what we saw. we let an additional 1973 contracts after harvey hit. so out of that only three that
i'm aware of was cancelled. >> that's not true. your folks are giving you the wrong numbers. there were at least 14 that were cancelled. so egregious that they made the press. you need your staff to do a better job. the records show that at least 14 contracts were cancelled and frankly, at least seventh of them appeared to be due to vendors failure to meet requirements. >> there is one problem across the federal government -- >> and by the way, how many they were doesn't show how impactful. it was 30 million meals that were supposed to be delivered. 30 million meals and they delivered 50,000 before anybody figured out it was a joke. >> so -- here again. we try to build in redundancy
and reskiiliency. -- we cancelled that and not $1 went to those contracts. we had four or five other vendors providing blue tarps and these were back-filling. we tried to get as much on the island and back filling the pipeline so there was never a stopgap on tarps or food. the thing about food, it wasn't that we couldn't get food to the island. we purchased about $2 billion worth of commodities ranking as one of fema's most expensive disasters in history alone. the communication system was down. one of the things that i want to make sure that everybody is
aware of. tributes had problems and it was never put on the radar screen to see it. the systems that we use to initially -- so they did work for the gpo or the government publishing office or printing off office. the gpo sends out an alert in the legislative branch but not to the executive branch. so the branchs are using different systems to say, stay away. had that translated to the executive branch, we would have seen it and never thought twice about touching it. >> yeah, i think there were contracts cancelled in the exexecutive branch by this company. we don't do that much krabting in the legislative branch. it is done in the executive branch so i'm not say that the databases are perfect. i'm not saying -- but i am
saying that due diligence and common sense beyond checking three databases for a red flag is going to be required. the reason i asked if you read the contract proposal, if you read it, you will be startled, it reads like an internet scam. you should take the time to read that contract proposal. when you do, your common sense, you will go wait a minute. this doesn't even look real. >> sure. fair enough. >> shouldn't you know if -- and on the tarps. let's talk about the tarps. you know, we looked at your preposition contracts on tarps. you know you are going to need sheeting and tarps in any hurricane disaster. we looked at the contracts issues after the 2017 hurricanes
-- do you have any answers to why only 3% will be used and had we been in a position to hire somebody who was clearly in existence for two months? >> so listen. i agree. bottom line is we can get better on the preposition contracting. it is not the responsibility of fema. this has to be the responsibility of state agencies as well as local emergency managements. something we are pushing fema integration teams out. out of the regional offices and
headquarters. i'm starting to embed them on a permanent basis to start setting up their own contracts. >> can with do something to help that? can we begin to make a requirement for example, we do a lot of grants to states for emergency preparedness. can we make a condition of those grants that they preposition contracts for disaster for things like sheeting, tarps, food, water. >> sure. >> is that something -- i don't think that needs legislation does it? >> i'm all for -- good behavior. putting forward contracts. some states have it and too many don't. we've got to push forward on how we get them to set specifically exactly what they need. >> what we also experienced in 2017 was a drain on resources. i mean, right now you can't find
enough construction materials to get to the virgin islands. we saw a drain on resources. there's very little time to do the due diligence if there was a blue sky day and plenty of take to think about it. we have to look at the contractors that performed extremely well and are performing well to make sure they are part of our preevent going forward. >> whatever we can do to help states to be better prepared to handle this and we can confidently reem burs the state officials that found the right contractors to deliver. if the long run it's going to be less expensive when they locate people locally to provide this anyway. >> right. >> and it is better for the states. you build up the base of contracting capability in the
states. i look forward to working with you on that and thank you for your time. >> we love the input from fema in terms of what states have the contracts. i'm happy to work with you to include requirements under whatever is in this jurisdiction in terms of grants. >> okay. >> and i would ask the constraint in terms of number of workers. disaster relief. >> sure. >> the head of the -- former congressman, the heading of the roofing association, and dhs was looking for 20,000 roofers and he was short. >> at what point -- here again, the numbers are so huge it is hard to say this is what we are spending today. at one point spending close to $300 million a day. that's fema, the federal government. putting that down to help
others. when i was state director in alabama, the fund budget was close to $6 million. so basically, fema is spending every hour or two hours, the general fund budget set aside for state emergency management, what 2017 taught us, and fema to get better, but it's a call to the state legislators and local elected officials to make sure that there are emergency management agencies at the state level and local management well-staffed and well-budgeted and we can't ignore the fact that disasters seem to be getting worst. >> senator peters. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it is good to see you. you have been a busy man. i appreciate your attendance here today. i'm encouraged by the comments
you made relating to reduce the complexity of fema. that is something we must do. and using taxpayer dollars more efficiently than they have been done in the past. one of the programs in particular, is the public assistant procedure, 4/28 n relation to puerto rico. i have heard concerns from folks that this new program could shift cost puerto rico without saving total funds on recovery efforts. especially if any unforeseen challenges should emerge. i would imagine that members on this committee would have concerns about accepting estimates from the federal government without input or without significant input into those estimates. so i would have just a yes or no question to start and other question after. did anyone in the meetings held
after the storm in the white house, you, the president, mr. mulvaney or anyone else implicitly or explicitly suggest that federal funding or support for permanent work in puerto rico will be with held, altered or limited unless requested to use the 4/28 program -- >> no. the bottom line is that the governor is not a governor that can be strong-armed and that's not the approach we take with fema. no. >> good. disasters continue to rise and assuring accountability and efficient use of taxpayer dollars must be our priority. they stand to receive exceeds the entire annual budget over many times actually. and in late november, the
governor held a press conference and having unprecedented authority of use of the money on the island. can you describe this unprecedented authority that puerto rico is talking about and the commonwealth must do to provide to fema prior to being able to draw down any funds? >> because of liquidity issues. this is going to sound harsh to puerto rico. i'm not trying to be harsh. the commonwealth had notten able toll demonstrate that they were going to manage this amount of money wisely and it is my due diligence to protect the tax-paying dollars. when we were putting money in the hands of the commonwealth, too much money was drawn down quickly at so we put a stop to
it. so it is a manual draw down process to make sure the money is going to where it needs to be. we continue to put forward and my demand -- my conversation to the governor was listen, if you want us to relax the manual drawdown process, i need to know what the commonwealth plan is to manage money and how it's going to be done. him and mike and my fco is working towards it. the manual drawdown process slows things down. i'm caught in between a rock and a hard place, move at the speed of light or protect the taxpayers dollars. the governor and i have productive conversations which is why we can move forward now. >> on the sheltering of the step
program during hurricane sandy indicating that the program can save $170,000 per household when compared to the assistant options. we should be encouraged by the innovative nature of the program and it is my hope to prioritize cost saving and recovery. my understanding is that the program is slow to deploy in texas and most people found alternative housing or taking advantage of the shelters or tsa program to a higher coast to the federal government. so my question is, how can fema, through emergency management grant programs or guidance through fema ensure that states are able to leverage the programs and manage the complex web of housing assistance with real case management that seems to be lacking? >> so this is an excellent
question. i'm ready to hit the reset button on housing period. i think the entire program is wasteful. we have to hit the reset button. i need granting authorities. to redo disaster housing. what we did with texas, we knew that the traditional way was not going to work. when people say housing is moving slowly compared to what mission moved quickly in housing in history. i don't know one that moved quickly. we opened up more options for texas through direct construction, through s.t.e.p. program and purchase agreements and manufactured homes and travel. and if i go through an agreement with the governor who boldly
stepped up to lead and he is the only one who did this. he has to follow my procurement rules and not the state. i need granting authority to do housing to where i can grant the funding to the governor and the governor can control whether or not he or she would like to do the s.t.e.p. program, direct construction to the house or to buy travel trailers off the lot. the the most fraustrating thing is if you are driving out of town and based on the way i have to purchase to get to texas, i drive pass private rv lots filled with travel trailers i can't touch. if you give me the granting authority to push down to a governor, they can buy what they need and i reimbers them and they now how the housing
solutions will work. the fact is that a housing plan in texas is not going to work in california or work if puerto rico as well. so it's got to be granting authority that allows a governor a multitude of options. whether it was a flood, or wasn't event or whether it was a catastrophic fire. so i'm ready to hit the reset button. i think what we are good at sir, we are good at mission, blue roofs, they did over 60,000. we are good at shelter efforts. sheltered over millions of americans. close to 300,000 americans in shelters over night. we are good at that. we are good at getting money to the citizen who needs to repair the home. i'm not a housing construction expert. it needs to go to the governor and they need to be in pow
wither and when it gets difficult for both fema and the governor and the damage to the house is greater than 50%. this is where h.u.d. needs to step in for them to deal with the hard case that we're just not designed to manage. >> well, i appreciate that answer. i love to have a chance to work with you as we try to sort that through. i'm out of time and i have other detailed questions that i would like to present to you and work with your staff and i think there are other opportunities to work together and achieve the goal you want which is to streamline fema and make it more responsive in terms of taxpayer money. >> thank you. >> and you confirmed why the tagline needs to be reordered to state managed, locally executed and federally supported. to do number two, the grants on one side and in terms of housing assistant as well let's work
together to give you the authority you need. senator harris. >> all right. administrator long, i want to thank you for the work you have done as a priority for you as the leader of fema and the work done with the mudslides and the fires. thank you for that. i would like to submit a letter for the record from the california office of emergency services confirming the administration fy-'19 budget rekwer request outlining california's concerns that the administration budget reduced federal funding for education, training and exercises by 47% and reduced federal funding for predisaster mitigation grant and i would like to submit that for the record. >> objection. >> mr. long i appreciate in your
testimony and i think i'm quoting you directly, we can not ignore the fact that disasters seem to be getting worse and i couldn't agree more. however, in contrast, i'm concerned that fema has removed references to clie references to climate change from the plan. the previous plan 2014 to 2018 specifically mentioned climate and climate change seven timings and devoted an entire section. what concerns me is that the current plan doesn't mention climate or climate change. it is evident that the strategic plan incorporates future risks from all hazards regardless of cause. and i'll tell you, specifically what i'm concerned about with that. climate change itself does not
cause natural disasters but rather acts as a force multiplyier. the environment conditions like wildfires. so when it comes to the devastating natural disasters, we can not plan for the future, i believe without acknowledging, understanding and incorporating the impacts of climate change so my question to you is, how can fema adequately prepare for future disasters without acknowledging, recognizing and in fact, removing acknowledgment? >> so i appreciate the question, senator. and look -- i believe the climate is changing. i believe that the ocean is rising about one-inch every decade. but, i also leave there are other cycles that increase and decrease activity such as
thermo-circulation how the ocean flows around. it pumps cold water out for 20 and 30-year purposes. i believe in el nino and the cycle that takes place. it means hurricanes and snowstorms and tornados in places that they don't get them. implications for wildfires in california. it doesn't mention earthquakes or school shootings or anything specifically because we are in all hazards agency regardless of cause or frequency. what i can do, i can't solve climate change, that would be similar to say let's stop plate tectonics and earthquakes -- >> appreciate your point. i only have a few minutes left. all i would ask you is that we
not play politics with issues like this because as you and i both know, those folks who are devastated by these tragic events, are not thinking ofrepu >> right. >> they're thinking of themselves as american citizens who need help and need their government to be honest about what is causing and what is exacerbating their lives and the lives of their children and communities. i appreciate in your opening statement. you mentioned it at least a couple of times. according to the usgs survey, there is a 72% chance that a large 6.7 magnitude quake will strike the bay area in california within the next 30 years. the last time fema responded to a major earthquake in california was a quarter of a century ago, the northridge earthquake. so my question to you is with the potential for a major earthquake to happen at any time, it's obviously imperative
that fema be prepared to deal with this. how are you ensuring that fema is ready to respond to the next catastrophic earthquake. >> sure. >> and using all that is available in terms of the resources and technology that did not exist a quarter of a century ago. what is happening? and also in light of the fact there is now reduced support for your agency in terms of training in the budget that has been submitted by the administration. >> senator, going back to the strategic planning, goal number two is ready the nation for catastrophic disasters. i recognize it. whether it's a nation state threat or an earthquake. the bottom line is that we've got to -- i've got to move my staff out to do better integrated planning with the state of california, for example, and other states. i want to get my people out to be part of the discussion every day, to make sure that we understand the gaps fully in california's ability to rapidly respond. because if a major earthquake
strikes one of the cities, san francisco, for example, we may not be able to get supplies in very quickly if the roadway structure is there. i realize that we have to make sure that the state bolsters their own capability and that we're incentivizing them to do so. the other thing is that going back to the original question, and on top of this one, nothing beats -- nothing is more effective than predisaster mitigation. here again, i don't control the resiliency at the local level. we need to make sure that when people are building and populating areas that are vulnerable to earthquakes or vulnerable to hurricanes, that they're doing so in a mitigated manner. and the way we address mitigation in this country is regressive. >> i agree with you. i agree with you. we have to do a better job. can you provide us, please, for a timeline and what your plan is for making sure fema is prepared for california's earthquakes and what you might need from california state government?
can you please provide me with that as a follow-up? >> i would be happy to. >> and finally, a question concerning the usvi and puerto rico. you probably know that seven months after the hurricane, a lot of the folks in puerto rico, for example, cannot access disaster aid because so many of them cannot provide official documentation that they own their property. this is one of the issues that contrasts the states like california with the territories. and, in fact, in puerto rico, they have a history, widespread history of informal land ownership. and thats it difficult for them to provide this information which means they cannot have access to the aid that you would otherwise provide. can you tell me what your systems are for verifying proof of ownership so they can have access to that aid? and what your plan is for the future. >> sure, nothing they have this system of land ownership? >> i think what's best, i
acknowledge senator, you're right. the old way of doing business is not ready to handle this cultural problem when it comes to ownership. we're trying to locate who owns the home. we may be bound by the authorities of the stafford act. so it's hard to get around that. what i like to do is work with my team to say here interest fixes we need to get around or the fixes we are temporarily putting into place. >> can you give us a timeline when you understand that system and within fema to be established? >> sure. >> thank you. >> earlier in the term i used the term moral hazard. one of the major reasons of high-priced disasters is the high-priced development has that occurred in the high disaster
areas. somebody else takes care of the cost, they continue to do that. how many times do people rebuild in a flood zone. i think it's a real problem. senator heitkamp? >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, administrator long. you have had quite a tenure since we all got together during your confirmation hearing. and we have watched very closely and understand and appreciate that your experience with katrina may have helped inform, but very concerned about what's happening in puerto rico. very concerned about the ongoing challenges that puerto rico experiences. and i think just because it's not on the front page of the news, i want to acknowledge that the whole country should be helping to help puerto rico recover. as a state like north dakota where we had a whole city taken out we had exactly the same problems. people couldn't access paperwork. we have to figure it out. and we have to be engaged and reengauged in puerto rico. but i want to talk about
something that is probably nearer and dearer to my heart which is communication systems, and the ability to have redundant and navigable communications systems during a disaster. in response to one of my questions for the record, in a previous hearing, you noted that agencies must proactively develop logistic community plans and mitigate destruction, disruption, and overload of communication ability. >> sure. >> i couldn't agree with you more that this has to be integrated and, you know, this isn't something that you build from the top down, we build from the bottom up. what date -- to date, what steps have agencies taken to develop those community plans? and what role are you playing in the development of those plans? i think this has to be one of our highest priorities. >> so actually, improving continuity and resilience of communications capability is goal 2.4. and we are putting a lot of effort into reviving continuity of operations, continuity of communications. the problem that we may run into
is that i don't know how much of the local and state governments that they have control over to influence how the private sector builds a resilient backbone into the communications system. >> can you explain that for me? can you explain that? >>, for example, in puerto rico, for example, a lot of the communications systems that we're dependent upon are owned by other private companies. they're not owned by the federal government, state government, or the local governments. and so the private company has to come in and fix. and what they'll tell you and probably rightfully so is that the technology changes so rapidly that to invest in a mitigated system is costly because the technology constantly has to be changed and the systems have to be upgraded to keep up with the way the technology and information flows. >> so to that end, obviously google came in and stood up their airborne communications system. a lot of things were tested. so it's not just about what
infrastructure is there and whether that infrastructure is adaptable to what you're doing, but what have you learned from puerto rico. >> right. >> in terms of communications and what should we be investing in to be better prepared? i agree with the chairman that we want to mitigate and look at how we can avoid the moral hazard of continuing to do the same old thing. but this is backbone emergency 101. >> sure. >> that we will always need this, no matter -- we will need this, no matter whether we even have a disaster. we have to have 24 capability. >> sure. so senator, we learned a lot of lessons, particularly from hurricane maria. after katrina and 9/11, we learned that we need to be interoperable, which means we have to have multiple agencies being able to talk to one another. well, after maria hit, we couldn't communicate, period. so it changes the way we did everything. for example, there wasn't enough food and water on puerto rico. that's not correct there was food and water on puerto rico.
it was messaging to the people on where to go to the hubs or to the community leaders to be able to go where to get it. and so we had to adapt not only that communication, but we also had to call in military what they call case teams to where we're putting speakers on helicopters and flying over the commonwealth to say go here, do these things and putting out a public awareness message. fema's -- unfortunately, a lot of fema's individual assistance program was moving to a digital platform that forced us to go back to navigating by stars and pencil and paper again to register people into our systems. so i think that we're too dependent on the communications backbone. the integrated public alert and warning system that we use for nation state threats. we're kind of at the mercy of how redundant and resilient the private companies are we utilize
to get the message out. >> that's exactly my point. what i'm trying to get at, how are we reaching out to private entities? maybe better understanding, better capability, better understanding of what we can do. obviously, puerto rico is a discreet area. i mean, it's an island. so that gave us a little -- it's not like it was nationwide. that gives us a great little test ground for where we can in fact deploy different forms of communication. and i want to make sure that this is -- like you said, a top priority, but that we're not creating something that can't be integrated in the communication system that we have. and if it can't, that we are providing redundancy that is totally separate from the private sector. >> sure. and what i would like to do is i can respond to you in writing. i would like to go back to my continuity staff to talk about the dialogue that they're starting. but part of this problem is greater than fema. >> absolutely.
>> we need do get ccc and others involved. and what is the standard that we're striving for. we're becoming more and more dependent on digital technology. >> but we also have more and more sophisticated technologies that are more micro. they're not meant -- if you look at a grid, you think, okay, you're going to stand up a, you know, kind of a generation to transmission grid. that's pretty fragile by whether or by terrorism. what are we doing to make sure that we can reestablish microcommunications, microenergy power distribution? all of these things, this is what i want to see in the follow-on report from puerto rico. i want to know how we're going to be more resilient and more redundant both on power and on communications. >> sure. so i think the fair question to ask is to ask the private vendors. i'm not the expert when it comes to the communications. i with tell you what fema is
doing. >> but you can't do it without the private? >> you're right. we can't. >> so it's two sides of the same coin. and what i'm saying is this has to be a priority. >> sure. >> because i don't want the see what happened in puerto rico happen again. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator langford? >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me add on to that conversation a big gain that we can have from this, lessons learned and things that can change in the future. you already mentioned some of those, dealing with housing, for instance, and how that needs to be managed as far as grants back to states, what the federal government should have, what the states should have. so we do we what we do well and they do what they do well. is there a pending report coming out at some point sort of lessons learned from 2017? here is what fema is going to change and the things we're doing that we see that are wrong but we have the authorities. here are the things we need to change, if you can help was statutes. and here is what private industry needs to be able to do, that they have to do in the free
market, but we just want the make them aware, and quite frankly their stockholders aware that these are gaps in the system. will something like that come out? >> yes, sir. so early on what we did is we embedded what we called learning teams in our jfos and within the agency. we were very proactive in saying we need to capture exactly what is going on. so as a result we are currently working on an internal after action report that i would be happy to share with the committee once completed. >> especially areas that fema has the ability to do the authority what they have the authority to do right now, but what they don't have the authority to. don't worry about committee of jurisdiction. we are your committee of jurisdiction. well can help get your information out to the different committees. but if we just knew what is it that you need that is inhibiting getting you to do the work. your comment about housing, that is something there is prohibition in statutes you can't do. we have to find a way to debate that and fix that or change your authorities or whatever it may. those are things we need to fix for you to be more productive. >> senator, one thing that is
really important to point out, it's not just fema that is in this game. we -- we coordinator roughly over 30 different agencies and the firepower of 30 different agencies down. one of the goals about reducing the complexity is how do we streamline all of the funding? how do i go tell your governor that this is what you're entitled to from these different agencies to fix the community? and how do we get them to move in an expedited manner. for example, hud funding. cgdbr funding is a fantastic piece of funding that is much needed by a community. but what happens is from the announcement, then there's got to be a six-month period to write the federal register. there is a three-month period to write the action plan on how you're going to use that funding. and then there is another month on top of that to make sure that we all agree, and then the money doesn't hit for a year. >> wow. two years later. >> so it makes it very difficult for a governor to understand,
well, i got to use fema money for this and these projects based on cash flow. here is what i think i can hit on my recovery priorities. and i got to wait for this hud funding to hit. and then there is federal highway funding. there is sba funding. >> so where do we go to get the overview of that? how do we get that? >> well, we start with my agency and let me point you in the right direction. >> great that would be helpful to be able to get. again, there is a big fight here typically on committees of jurisdiction and who has that and who doesn't have that. what we need to be able to have, and all of us are members of multiple committees. but we need to have the ability to see these are the issues and get them out to the right committees to be able to make some of the decisions that need to be able to be made. rather than worry about them writing a report that is someone else's deal. so if you can give us a big picture and just know from our perspective at least, tell your folks not to worry about, i'm sorry, you can't write about that because that's someone else's agency. if there is a communication issue or if there is a part of
it, i've already had the ongoing conversations, for instance, on wildfires. wildfires in california, if there are so many structures destroyed, tratcally, you're involved. if there is a wildfire in western oklahoma and it's cattle and fences and sheds, then fsa does it. >> right. >> if fema engages, they're going to get a response 35 to 40 days. it's going to be very rapid to turn around a check. if fsa does it under usda, it will be a year to two years to get relief. both had a fire. two different structures. two different systems on it. so we've got to be able to find a way to solve that. >> yep, i agree, senator. and the problem with the national disaster recovery framework, it may be a plan without authorities given to the agencies that are truly in charge of things like power or housing. we can ceremonial -- ceremoniously put hud in charge of housing or doe in charge of energy. but where the problem comes in is do they really have the authority and the funding mechanism to be the lead, or are
we just coordinating -- does fema end up being the lead for all of it? and a lot of that it we're -- excuse me, that we're told to lead, we're not the experts for. >> mr. brock, you're going to have to help us with that. let me mention a couple other things as well. i do appreciate fema and how you continue to be able to partner with not only for-profit entities for contracting, but nonprofits that are out there. church groups, faith-based groups, whatever it may be. you're taking and coordinating whoever is coming to help to help. oklahoma disaster relief during what was happening in houston were delivering 20,000 meals a day. just down there working with the red cross and getting a chance to get it done. we had multiple of our power companies that they picked up folks that have gone to puerto rico. in fact, we had another group from oklahoma that just came back a few weeks ago. we're continuing to be able to send folks out there. thanks for the way you're able to coordinate and not say you've got to be in this certain box, but that you're working through who is coming to help. >> sure. >> in trying to be able to work with all the groups on that. so i appreciate that.
>> yes, sir. on the nongovernmental organizations and the faith-based community are a tremendous asset, and one of the greatest assets in this country to help us overcome. we can't do it without them. >> they need to continue to be used. there has been a fear in government for a while about saying i'm not sure about that. we need to continue to be able to use those faith-based groups and nongovernmental to be able to partner with them. >> you're right. what is beautiful about using these agencies, they don't have to adhere to my bulky federal laws. they can do things that i can't do. >> and rapidly. >> what i want to figure out is who do we get the ngos on the front end of predisaster mitigation to help people before disaster strikes rather than just being seen on the back end as well. so how do we shift the mind-set of maybe they can start installing hurricane clips for areas with hurricanes and tornadoes. a lot of things we can do. >> let me mention other things. i want to give you a thank you of how you're working with houses of worship which has been completely confusing to me for
years why if a nonprofit there is hit with a disaster or a for-profit business or a house that. >> treated one way. but if you're a house of worship, regardless of your religious affiliation, you're treated completely simply. thank you for actually trying to draw those two together. we've now followed that up with statutes to be able to make sure that stays permanent on that. but that's been a lingering issue with fema for a long time. with the list that we come back whenever you bring that back, things i'm going to watch for, electric grid. what has been durable and nondurable in a electric grid. what have we learned? i talked with the corp. of engineers engineers. when you talk about power coming back on and what is producing power, there are lessons to be learned about lines and the poles, but also lessons about the power generation as well. what worked, what didn't work, what survived disasters, what didn't there may be some lessons learned that we may be able to get on that. the flood insurance is still a big issue for me. and for you, i'm quite confident. but that's learning how we can solve the multiple repetitive claims. any recommendations that you
have. as you know, this committee and others are dealing with the flood insurance issue for a while. and i would hope we would get into duplication of coordination, as you've already mentioned. any reports you can give to us on that would be very helpful, and then we'll try to follow ahead in the days ahead. >> i'd be happy to provide ideas. thank you. >> senator hassan? >> thank you very much, mr. chair and rank about member mccaskill. good morning, director long. it is good to see you. it is fair to say, and i know that you have heard it already this morning that many of us in the senate were unsatisfied with the rate of recovery in puerto rico after hurricane maria hit the island. you were quoted last week saying that rebuilding puerto rico would cost $50 billion, and tha federal reserve was running out of time before the next hurricane season which starts on june 1. certainly the announcement that the u.s. department of urban housing and development will provide the island with $18.5 billion is a huge step in the
right direction. however, other reports suggest that just under 20% of the island is still without power, including more than 100,000 residents. so why after six months does puerto rico still, quote, have a long way to go, as you have said? certainly its infrastructure challenges play a role. i understand that. and i know you spoke earlier about getting 428 authority. however, i want to know what specific steps fema and the u.s. government will take in the coming months to help the island so that when you appear before this committee again in six months, we are not hearing about the same infrastructure obstacles we've been dealing with since the storm. >> sure. let's, one, rebuilding the infrastructure. i think we all have to back up and remember that a lot of the infrastructure was not functional, including major portions of the power infrastructure. >> i understand that. >> before the storm. >> i've heard you give that explanation before. i understand the challenges. what i want to know is what it
is that the united states of america and fema are doing, understanding those challenges, so that we can make as much progress as possible. what specific action items do you have? >> sure. bottom line is we have over 4,000 employees there. i'm getting ready to be one of the largest employers in puerto rico. we've hired close to 1500 puerto ricans that we're training to be the commonwealth and the municipal emergency management arm. we're doing a train the trainer and making sure that they understand our systems as well. and readiness for hurricane season, we're rewriting plans at all 78 levels of government that didn't exist. we're rewriting the commonwealth plans on their behalf and working with them. we're making sure that leadership is being put into place. but we're also getting ready to go through a set of culminating training and exercise. i believe on june 14th there is going to be a full-scale exercise with the commonwealth and with the municipalities to actually run through physical
movements such as commodities. and so we've tremendously increased the amount of warehouse space that we have on the island and stocked it, in some cases for water. i think the last number i saw, and we can get you specifics is there is a seven fold increase of water that is being prepositioned on the island. and then on the june 14th exercise, it's my understanding that we're going to be running those commodities and demonstrating how the new distribution plans will work and the municipalities that participate in the exercise are going to be able to keep those commodities and to be able the store for future disasters. there is a lot that we're doing to ready the commonwealth. >> well, i would love fit your team would follow up with us and give us kind of the full sense of plan here. because, again, i understand the problems you're dealing with. but what makes y'all fema, and what makes the united states the united states is we don't look backwards, we look forward. >> sure. >> and we respond on the ground to make sure that our people
have what they need in the face of disaster. i also just wanted to touch with you on the fema strategic plan. you and your team argue in that plan for simplifying the process by which fema administrators assistance. i think we would all support the elimination of unnecessary red tape. in my state, it appears that bureaucratic disorganization has contributed to lengthy response times from fema. for instance, in one town in new hampshire that was hit by a damaging storm last july, fema has sent 22 people on six different occasions to assess and reassess the same damaged roads. the frustrated fire chief of that town, who has managed the town's recovery, and i got to tell you, he has been managing recoveries for a long time and is a smart, able businessman when he is not being fire chief, he's told us that several of the fema personnel had to be shown how to use a tape measure and how to calculate the costs.
fema has yet to release any funds to the town. with that said, you have highlighted how emergency response requires interacting with multiple levels of government, and in many cases, interacting with several different agencies within each level of government. something i certainly appreciate as a former governor. therefore, fema's assistance and coordination system is complex by design, because you're supposed to coordinate here. but how are you going to address this necessarily complex system and attempt to cut out steps or simplify this process? >> so in regards to the specific issue that you raise, i'm not aware of that. i would be happy to -- i will personally call perry plumber, the director in your state to follow up on that issue. here is what we ran into and what we learned about staffing patterns and the way the system is set up. we had roughly -- i don't know the exact number. we had too many people dispersed
across the country working disasters that are pretty small, in my opinion. the term catastrophic lies in the eye of the beholder. you lose your house, you're uninsured, i realize catastrophic. >> year a small town with little infrastructure and a volunteer fire department. >> so if i remember correctly there is a gao report that roughly says that 80% of the disasters that fema has to work with are less than $41 million when it comes to putting out public assistance funding. my question is how do we get to the point where we become almost a granting agency to push the funding out, the public assistance funding through the governor to where they have the trained staff. we simplify the systems to where they can put the money and the infrastructure become to work without me having to roll my staff even to your state. and so we're having to constantly break down the policies. and one of the problems we have is the inspection process. it's knotts just fema that does
inspections. it could be federal highway, usda. there is a number of inspections that take place. but when it comes to dealing with specifically the disaster survivor, how do we do one inspection that cuts across. >> right. >> every bit. and we're not there yet. i don't have an answer. but here again, we're trying to kick start the effort to reduce the frustration. >> and i appreciate that. and i also know, mr. chair, that i'm out of time. the one thing i would ask you to think about, because this is something that small states run into a lot is that the federal government tends to look at comparables. and they say, well, this disaster is only a million dollar disaster. it doesn't really need people. in my state, that's a huge disaster. >> sure. >> and we don't have the people or the infrastructure necessarily to receive those dollars from the feds without help because of our scale. and so i just would ask that you guys consider the state scale,
not just where the state falls in the federal size. does that make sense? >> here is where this committee can help. we need to increase state management costs. right now it's 3.34%. should it be roughly 12%, okay? so that when there is a smaller disaster, if there is a $10 million, $20 million disaster, they can take 12% of what we're potentially going to obligate to hire labor or consulting firms to augment their capability to be able to do it. that's the direction we need to go. because i cannot continue to send staff out to do every disaster for a $2 million disaster to what i'm facing. the nation needs me to be ready to go for the marias and the harveys and the irmas. >> and i understand that. and i think the people in my state would say with respect if there is flexibility and targeted ways we can do this, that's great be. they pay taxes too. >> sure.
>> and need fema to be there for them. because their disasters are as devastating to them as any disaster. so i would look forward to working with you on that. i think we just got to get the balance right. thank you. thank you, mr. chair, for letting me go over. >> senator daines? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. long, thanks for coming here today. it's good to see you again. i know you've been an administrator for less than a year, and you've already had to help navigate our country through some very difficult times. thank you. i know it's been some long, long hours. however, there is always room for improvement. i appreciate you making concerted effort to learn from last year's lessons. it's critical we identify ways to do things better in the future. as people's lives and livelihood, as you know, are at stake. in montana, we experience historic drought. it seems like last year was either too much water or not enough water. we are on the not enough water side. we had 2400 wildfires burning 1.4 million acres. i want to thank for working with me. you took a call in the middle of
one of our battles we were fighting, a fire in eastern montana, in garfield county. and for your assistance in getting montana additional emergency funding last year. your rural roots contributed to helping understand the fact that how do we deal with these disasters that hit rural america when sometimes our conventional formulas don't always factor in how we should think about assessing the need. even with the significant snowfall, we're getting now this year in montana, early forecasts already are saying we're going to have above average fire potential this summer. that's a fire prediction i didn't like to hear. as you mention in your testimony, we need to ensure that we're not just ready for at the catastrophic hurricanes, but also wildfire and how to best prepare for the upcoming season. fema declared eight fire management assistant grants for wildfires in montana last year. i understand that with these grants there is a fire cost
threshold that must be reached before eligible for reimbursement. but in a state like montana, where we can have thousands of wildfires, that are put out before they contribute to a major disaster, these smaller costs still add up and deplete state and local funds. furthermore, clear guidance for frontier counties and their eligibility for fire management assistance grants is sometimes lacking. and i agree with your plan of making emergency response federally supported, state managed, and locally executed. a little breath of federalism is always refreshing here in these massive bureaucracies in washington, d.c. moving forward, my question is how can fema and states like montana with rural communities better work together to utilize federal grant programs to mitigate the damage done by wildfires? >> so, senator, excellent question. i've had very spirited
conversations with governor bullock on going forward. and i understand that your state has been totally ravaged by almost like a death by a thousand cuts when it comes to the number of fires. the problem is that -- how do you -- how do you declare fire season? you know, if i declare fire season, then do i have to declare severe weather season for another state? and it's difficult. and it's my understanding in the omnibus that was recently passed that there are some legislative fixes with the department of interior and agriculture to help offset some of the costs that i can't cover through the f-mag program. but i think what we're having to do inside fema is reset the bar and the intent of the f-mag program internally with our regions to say the purpose of this grant funding is to prevent a fire from becoming a major disaster declaration. and we have to increase the dialogue that we have with our state partners to make sure
that, you know, we're on top of it and helping to do all we can to suppress that fire before it gets way out of hand. but the issue at hand is we look at each fire as an individual fire. i don't know if i have the authority to look at multiple fires in one season. was it the same drought that's causing -- was it the same weather system that caused all of the flooding, for example? do we declare that whole period or incident as one disaster? and so with the fires, it's snag we've got to work through. and i would be happy to continue the dialogue. but it's also continuing the dialogue on where fema begins and ends. where doi and department of agriculture also support as well. >> well, thank you. and that dialogue will be helpful. and it's also worth we've also
got to get better at prevent in and reducing the risk of and severity. and that's something we're working on aggressively. as thee combustibles continue to build in our forest, they either burn or they're harvested. they're there really isn't an option. there is not a choice, seeing the multiple choice equation. so we've got to do a better job as well as managing our forest. because as i've said before, either we will manage our forest, or they'll manage us. so we've got to fight kind of a two-front war here. switching gears, i've introduced a bill, the homeland security for children act that would simply ensure dhs under secretary for strategy policy and plans including children when soliciting stakeholder feedback. i say that as a daddy of four kids myself. further, a technical expert at fema be authorized to lead as external collaboration to integrate the needs of children
into activities to prepare for and respond to disasters. the bill has already passed out of this committee and the dhs reauthorization also includes its language. mr. long, as the administrator of fema, how would this bill better equip you to protect our kids in the event of a tragedy? >> so senator, we do have programs that are geared towards helping children specifically cope with the aftermath as far as mitigating the impacts to disasters. i would have to look into that. let me go back to my staff, and we can provide that. >> we're trying to give you another vehicle there to help in that regard. >> sure. >> both preparation for and after the fact. lastly, i know puerto rico came up, as we saw in puerto rico following hurricane maria, important to respond to a catastrophic event. i spent over a decade in the tech sector in cloud computing.
i'm well aware of the need of reliable connectivity. mr. long, how is fema leveraging technology to improve communications following a natural disaster? >> well we have a long way to go. and in some cases, i want to move away from manual processes to incorporate more technology to help us rapidly assess and improve assistance as we go forward. as i quoted earlier, we had to do 2.4 million home inspections. why can we not use technology and imagery to say yes, these houses are damaged there is 8 feet of water in this house. therefore it's approved rather than go through the cumbersome process of sending people out to verify damages. but we have to be care to feel protect against waist, fraud and abuse, which i don't think most disaster survivors by any means are trying to do. but we have to protect the tax-paying dollars. it's the right mix of technology as well as the manual processes that we have to keep to ensure that the dollars are being right.
the other thing on technology is we've had a very healthy discussion on redundant and resilient communications in regards to wildfires. as we were talking earlier, the communication systems were blown out by maria. they were burned up in california. so a lot of this is outside of how do i help the private sector, or how does the senate engage the private sector on mitigating these communication backbones to where we don't lose them for all hazards. if they're gone, for example, with the california wildfire, we lose our ability to communicate alert and public warning to citizens. and so we've got a long way to go. and i think there is a lot of work that we can do to be more innovative and incorporate technology. >> i'm out of time here. i want to tell you, mr. long, i know in your job you usual i will only get criticized and rarely affirmed. i think you're going a great job. >> thank you. i appreciate your leadership and attention to detail. you want to engage us in times
of need and keep up the good work. >> thank you, senator. >> senator jones? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. long, welcome. and thank you for your service. i want to echo what senator daines said about your job and your performance now. but also thank you for your service to alabama and my state. >> thank you. >> you worked tirelessly for the folks. and alabama, we have our share. every year it seems between tornadoes or hurricanes, we are -- we cinch up in the spring waiting for the next tornado to hit. and then late summer and fall, it's always as a hurricane going to hit the gulf of mexico. so we've had our share. it was 20 years ago this week i think that i had -- it was the united states attorney and toured the f-5 tornado that went through oak grove and areas where my family had serious deep resident roots, both in their homes and their churches. the damage that can cause and i would urge colleagues if never hits their state to go see.
you can't appreciate it on television like you can. it will take your breath away. recently we had a storm hit in the northeast section of alabama that did a significant amount of damage in a number of counties, including damage to jacksonville state university. a number of their buildings. fortunately, it hit during spring break. and none of those students or very few of those students were on campus. can you give me any update about fema's interactions with our state authorities? i want to make sure that everybody is doing everything they can to make sure we have the appropriate documentation to maybe get some help. >> senator, absolutely. and i'll follow up with you in regards to what specifically is taking place, or the process when it comes to the damage assessments that are being done in alabama. tornadoes are typically tough, particularly on rural communities, because a lot of what they impact is typically
insured. like jacksonville state, hopefully a lot of those buildings are insured which cuts against the numeric indicator that would suggest that declaration support is needed from the federal government. which is the way insurance should work. but one of the things i'll do is go back and make sure that we respond to you on where we are in that process. and if there is any issue, i'd be happy to. >> great. it's my understanding from some information we got from the state yesterday that they're preparing a package at the uninsured costs will probably top $35 million which is a pretty horrible boat. if you could just keep my office updated on that. and if there is anything that we can do to help with that, i appreciate it. alabama -- last year, we had hurricane irma. it's my understanding as of april 9th, the state completed their paperwork and closed that out in record time. so we're good stewards of the fema money. the second thing i want to talk about is really in anniston, alabama. we have a training center at
fort mcclellan. the center for domestic preparedness, which is a training facility for state and local leaders all over the country that come there every year. the president's fy 19 request for the center for domestic preparedness would be reduced despite the fact that the impacts of the 2017 natural disaster show that resources -- in my view, that resources for cdp should actually be increased. in order to respond to the 2017 hurricanes and wildfires, the cdp activated our personnel mobilization center at its facility in anniceston and processed some 533 responders through that facility. unfortunately, when they did so, they had to shut down the regular training for over two months, which cost training for an event scheduled for some 2400 students from across the
country. that just could not go and will get delayed. so i guess my question is if we're trying to create a culture of preparedness, as you state, and i think that everyone would agree with, it's important that we educate and train our state and local emergency managers. and what can we do to find ways to accommodate both training at the cdp and mobilization needs should those come up during the course of the year. and should we not prioritize resources toward developing that capacity? >> senator, i think as i said earlier in my testimony, money is tight, and the bottom line is with grants and training, i agree there is nothing more important than the trained emergency manager. the fy 2019 budget doesn't reflect -- it was basically put together before what we just went through in the 2017 season. which is something that i think with all understand as well. but when it comes to training at
the local and state level, it can't just be on fema's shoulders to do so. and i think that it's time for the state legislature of alabama and other states to consider whether or not the alabama emergency management agency has its own robust training capability and dollars as well. and this is a shared responsibility. preparedness is everybody's responsibility from every citizen all the way up to my office. and we're getting to a point where how much can the federal emergency management agency continue to supplant across this country for all the mult tude of programs that we run. and something's got to give at some point. i wish i had tons of dollars to train everybody. but that's just not reality. and the cdp, incredibly valuable asset. i've got great people down there that is the disaster lab that i
hope to better incorporate on how we utilize our entire training network. it's great. >> well, thank you very much. and i appreciate that. and i also understand and know from your experience in alabama that this is not the first time you have advocated for state training and for legislatures in alabama to step up and do the right thing. so i appreciate that comment. i agree with you 100%. we will do what we can from our standpoint. and i'll be happy to go with you the talk to the alabama legislature some time, step up. thank you. it was great to see you. >> thank you. >> mr. jones? >> i have about two and a half minutes on my first round of questions. let me quick ask two follow-up questions. first of all, as it relates to insurance, from my standpoint, preparedness, part of that equation is really being adequately ensured. i mentioned moral hazard earlier. do you believe that because of the federal government -- and let's face it. we've been spending billions of
dollars. do you think federal government's involvement has actually incentivized people not to carry adequate insurance? and to what extent? >> when it comes to citizens, i think there is this myth that fema is an all encompassing insurance agency that can put your life back together. and that's just not the case. if you look at harris county, for example, and some of the initial numbers. and here again, these numbers will change as more policies are put into place, fema's average payout typically in individual assistance is like $4,000 to $6,000 versus those who were ensured through the nfip, i think the average payout was over $100,000. so insurance is the first line of defense. now, when it comes to governments, if we truly want to have a conversation about reducing disaster cost in addition to doing predisaster mitigation, then let's look at the categories of permanent work that fema performs under the stafford act. one of those is category e which
is public buildings and content. cities and counties that self-insure their buildings or basically don't have insurance for their buildings, fema son the hook to fix. is that an opportunity for the private sector and the insurance companies to step up and ensure that? is that an opportunity to where i can reduce costs and the private industry should take over and be able to ensure them. >> my question. you seeing an uptick in the sel self-insurance, in other words, having no insurance? >> well, in citizens the unfortunate thing is what we just saw in california was unfortunately people who are struggling in retirement. pay off their house. they let their insurance lapse. their fire insurance lapse, and then their house burned up. and they ultimately let it lapse to be able to have a couple hundred extra bucks a month in their paycheck. that's a big problem, an education budgeting problem. >> but again, are you seeing data that is actually growing?
>> we can get that to you. >> okay. i'd appreciate. >> i'd be happy. to. >> i was struck by your testimony about the fact that you couldn't prove ownership. is that something completely unique to puerto rico, or are you seeing that in other areas of the country? >> the volume within puerto rico is very unique. yes. >> but it is totally unheard november the rest of the country? >> it's not typically a major problem across the rest of the country. in some cases what we run into is people claiming ownership when they don't. it's more fraud than anything. but puerto rico is just the sheer volume. >> okay. again. those are my only two questions. senator mccaskill? >> i have some for the record. >> okay, thank you, ma'am. >> so administrator long, again, thank you. i can't imagine. i can't imagine your task. i do believe you have the appreciation and i think the respect and quite honestly the confidence of this committee, which is saying an awful lot. we do appreciate that and please convey our sincere appreciation to all the men and women who
have worked with you, not only in fema, but throughout the government agencies in really responding to something that is truly unprecedented. we truly appreciate that with that, the hearing record will remain open 15 days until april 26th at 5:00 p.m. for the submission of statements for the record. this hearing is adjourned.
c-span's "washington journal" live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, ohio republican congressman warren davidson will join us to talk about speaker paul ryan's retirement announcement. and then new york democratic congressman gregory meeks will discuss potential u.s. military action against syria.
and from nevada, our next stop on the c-span bus 50 capitols tour with brian sandoval. we'll talk about top policy issues in his state. watch live at 7:00 eastern thursday morning. join the discussion. thursday, a confirmation hearing for mike pompeo to become the next secretary of state. he currently serves as cia director and would replace rex tillerson who left that post in march. he'll speak before the senate foreign relations committee, and you can see it live at 10:15 a.m. eastern on c-span3. friday, a c-span profile interview with principle deputy white house secretary raj shah. he spoke about his family, growing up in connecticut as well as his early beginnings in politics. mr. shah also looked at the relationship between the media and the white house and what it's like working for president
trump. see the interview friday at 9:30 p.m. eastern on c-span. saturday, c-span's 2020 road to the white house coverage continues with remarks from missouri's former secretary of state jason kander. he'll speak at the new hampshire democratic party dinner after recently hinting at a potential presidential run in two years. see the event live saturday at 5:30 eastern on c-span. you can also listen live on the free c-span radio app. sunday on 1968, american in turmoil, conservative politics. when perceived liberal excesses and disenchantment with the liberal government gave resurge to the right. the resurgence of president nixon. ronald reagan made his debut as a presidential candidate, foreshadowing the conservative revolution to come. our guests are robert mary, editor of the american conservative and the author of "where they stand: the american presidents in the eyes of voters
and historians." and george washington professor and author of "the right moment: ronald reagan's first victory and the decisive turning point in american politics." watch 1968, america in turmoil. conservative politics, live sunday at 8:30 a.m. eastern on c-span's "washington journal," and on american history tv on c-spa c-span3. sunday, on c-span's q&a, networks and power from the freemasons to face book. >> what is striking to me when i interact with these groups is not their power, but often their sense of powerlessness. if you think about the events of 2016, just to take an example, not many members of the supposed world government planned that britain would vote to leave the
european union, and that donald trump would become president of the united states. donald trump is definitely not somebody who gets invited to those meetings. so then for example, take the financial crisis. the events of 2008 and '09. nobody sat there at the build a book meeting in 2018 i think what we really need for the world government is a massive financial crisis. >> q&a sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span. next, the u.s. conference of mayors holds a discussion to examine public safety issues facing cities around america. mayors and police chiefs gathered here in washington to look at how they can address challenges, including gun violence, school safety, and the opioid epidemic. this is three hours, 20 minutes. >> all right. well, thank you, mayor cranially. i am steve benjamin, the mayor of columbia, south carolina, and vice president of the u.s. conference of mayors. so glad to see sony