tv FEMA Administrator Criswell Testifes on Agency Response Following... CSPAN October 14, 2021 5:05pm-7:19pm EDT
order. the committee will come to order. if objection the chair is authorized to declare recess of the committee at any time. i now recognize myself for an opening statement. the committee is holding this hearing to address the serious growing crisis posed by natural disasters and extreme weather events driven by climate change. between august 29 and september september 1 hurricane ida devastated the u.s. from louisiana coast to new jersey and my home state of new york.
this deadly hurricane resulted in over 100 deaths including 13 in new york city. it in new york and new jersey more than 1000 miles from where the storm surge made landfall catastrophicic flooding trapped people and flooded casement apartmentsas and stranded vehicles. louisiana hurricane ida to down the electorate grid knocking out eight transmission lineson that deliver power and downing more than 30,000 utility poles and nearly twice as many as hurricane katrina. more than 1 million people were left without power and are still without power more than a month later. the unprecedented destruction unleashed by hurricane ida is part of ane growing trend that e federal government cannot ignore. there record-breaking hurricanes in the south to rising sea levels that threaten to 40% of
america's population the destructive impact of climate change is rapidly escalating and the cost of ignoring this problem is growing. during the first half of 2021 the united states experienced eight climate disasters with losses totaling more than $1 billion. initial estimates put losses from hurricane ida at between 53 and $54 billion. the government accountability office has climate change on high-risk and 2013 in part because of concerns about the increasing cost of rapid response and recovery efforts. today we are honored to be joined by team administrator deanne criswell. thank you so much for being here in administrator criswell. you and your team are working round-the-clock to respond to the ongoing efforts and other pressing issues. her testimony is crucial today
as there are thousands of people in new york new jersey louisiana in marylandd and other impacted communities who need information about how to get help. that includes understanding what steps fema is taking to speed up installation of temporary roof sun damaged homes in louisiana and work with vulnerable populations to ensure applicationsd are complete and approved quickly and i'm also interested in hearing about famous efforts to address inequities and disaster readiness and recovery. vulnerable populations like people of color and people experiencingop homelessness and undocumented immigrants are more likely to suffer consequences of extreme weather events and they facege the biggest barriers in getting help. the biden administration is taken important steps to makeint easier for survivors to receive assistance including waiving the requirement that they have a deed or formal proof of
homeownership to receive assistance. fema has also taken steps by developing fact sheets to render undocumented immigrants -- these are important steps but more needs to be done. it's crucial that we invest in climate and post-disaster assistance to -- so we did not leave behind our most vulnerable community's. administrator criswell i'd like to hear from you today about how we can improve efforts to build climate resilience communities. one critical step the administration could take is to improve federal data on climate change in our communities by leveraging data across the public and private sector and we can better understand the future risk of flooding and communities can take action to keep people out of harm's way. congress almost -- also must
act. today i ran to reduce the federal agency i'm at ask for this bill will ensure that communities have a say in how federal agencies can implement their climate action plan. it's crucial in making sure our dollars are put to work where they are most needed and i'm proud to support the 28th million dollars that congress approved but i was disappointed that 175 of my republican colleagues voted against this bill including many members whose constituents are in dire need of emergency funding approved by democrats. i hope as extreme weather becomes more deadly to get a grant a bipartisan basis that the american people deserve our help. recovery friends -- funds are not met. conversely to make long-term investments to stop global warming before it's too late in that's why call my colleagues to
support president biden's bill the bill back better act. this transformational bill will make a simple investment to solve the climate crisis while upgrading or if the structure so they can better prepare for future disasters disasters. in the long run these investments willin save money by reducing the extraordinary costs of natural disasters and extreme events causeder by climate chan. i now recognize my distinguished ranking member mr. komar for an opening stay. >> thank you chairwoman maloney and i want to thank administered or criswell for appearing before the committee. i'm surprised the democratic committee is called the -- to testify. while i appreciate administrator
criswell's test my hearing more about the agency's efforts to assist americans is critical to know who from the biden administration the democrats on his committee have refused to call to testify. chairwoman maloney when the democrats call the department of homeland secretaryec to discuss the southern border or secretary of defense to explain the debacle in afghanistan withdrawals or the inflation by the biden demonstrations that it's's gotten so bad even stores like the dollar tree are raising prices on americans. chairwoman maloney i sent three letters urging democrats to call a hearing to examine the biden border crisis. thousands of illegal immigrants including unaccompanied minors across the southern border. there's an envoy security amanda terion and public health process
with no clear policy to address this issue in the biden administration. as i've outlined in my letter to chairwoman maloney one of the most troubling issues is the number ofhe unaccompanied childn entering the border and currently in u.s. custody. today thousands of unaccompanied children are on the border. the ride border crisis is -- the administration was forced toio activate fema to support the response for accepting children. over period of 90 days fema supported dhs and hhs to get unaccompanied children out of dh custody and into hhs. fema the agency charged with assisting american citizens in recovery from disasters had to be activated further illustrating the extent of the crisis created by the biden administration policies. administrator criswell i hope he can address my concerns with regard to the activation of fema
to use critical resources reserved for americans and national disasters to include a crisis at the border with regard to other countries. german maloney i'd like for the famed administrator and members of his committee to hear directly from mr. higgins with regards to issues he and his constituents have faced in fema's response to disaster recovery in louisiana. i understand there are still people waiting on critical assistance from fema. i now yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from lisa yamma mr. higgins to give an opening statement. >> i thanks the gentleman and ranking member and chairwoman maloney and i look forward to today's hearing and thank you mr. komar for giving me a few moments to speak. while this hearing is focused on hurricane ida i'd be remiss to not speak on the ongoing hurricane recovery in southwest
louisiana. just over your go southwest louisiana was ravaged by brutal hurricanes back-to-back only followed by severe weather from winter storms in major flood events. wesley as an is appreciative ofc the $1.6 billion that fema and other agencies have delivered to help with immediate response costs but this isn't sufficient for what's needed for long-term recovery. it's been estimated to cost $16 billion in damages to the region and we have delivered thus far one 10th of what's estimated to cost. even with the passage of last week's continuing resolution these funds over a year late in fall short of the necessary federal response. the entire louisiana delegation including our governor has
written 14 letters to the administration and congressional leaders to get the funding out the door yet the political realities have ventured the lives of southwest louisiana citizens for over 400 days and in closing i would hope madam chairman although we can recognize intellectually we may struggle as the body to address what's been referred to as extreme weather and the chairwoman would agree to work with myself in my office and republican members of the committee to deal with the extreme bureaucracy that we face. we can certainly addressta that whereby response to napster does -- natural disasters across the country that affect americans held one time or another in a very negative way that we could work together to streamline the bureaucracy and red tape that we face in the
citizens very attempting to recover in madam chairman i yield to ranking member mr. komar and thank youu for yor time. [inaudible] to answer all of your questions. she has been to new jersey to work with people and respond with fema and the truth is that this committee is actively engaged in waste fraud and abuse. the committee has a joint investigation with the subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis and emergent biosolutions and has received a huge faxing contracts but millions of doses
were destroyed due to deficiency and in manufacture manufacturers. a bipartisan investigation into f-35 joint strike fighters helped push lockheed-martin to return $70 million to the department of defense programs to compensate for defective spare parts and waste fraud and abuse. this committee helped. the pandemic response and accountability committee and the committee of inspector general overseeing trillions of dollars in response to the pandemic. ig save roughly $17 for every dollar >> and we have not shied away from constructive oversight of the biden administration. the last two weeks we conducted oversight of the treatment of -- held a classified briefing which requested by the minority on afghanistan and sent a bipartisan letter to the fbi
about a ransomware attacks. this is in strong contrast to republicans who turned a blind eye to four years of outrageous abuses by the former president. without i'd like to get back to the critical importance of today's hearing. first i'd like to introduce our witnesses. today we are privileged to hear from the administrator of the federal emergency management agency deanne criswell. will swear the witness simply please raise your right hand do d,you swear the testimony you're about to give is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the nothing but the truth so help you god? >> so help you god? >> i do. >> but the record show the witness answered in the affirmative. thank you and without objection your testimony will be made part of the record and without administrator criswell you are
recognized for your opening testimony. thank you for being here and thank you for your service prior prayer coming to the federal government. it's been a good morning you chair maloney ranking member komar and members of the committee. i thank a you for the opportuniy to testify about a response in recovery efforts following hurricane ivan is a long as the longer-termng investments to increase the face of climate change. climate change affects every singleri american. it's the biggest crisis facing our nation and its making natural disasters more frequent and more intense and morere destructive. mitigating the effects of climate change is one of my top parties with fema. hurricane otto has demonstrated the challenges presented by a changing climate the benefits of mitigation assessment and the importance of equity in a response and recovery. fueled in part by warmer than normal waters in the gulf of
mexico hurricane ida wednesday's intensified from 85 to 150 miles per hour in less than 24 hours. the category 4 storm became the bstrongest hurricane to ever me landfall in the continental united states. storms normally break apart quickly when they make landfall but ida remained the category 4 storm for four hours and i does impact devastated communities from the gulf of mexico to the northeast. 1 million people in louisiana and mississippi were without power at a time of sweltering heat. after transitioning and accelerating to a cyclone ida caused widespread flooding in the northeastern united states breaking multiple rainfall records and causing catastrophic floods from new york to new jersey to pennsylvania. hurricane ida caused over 100 direct fatalities and my heart goes out to all the families who
were affected. hurricane otto was notable in other ways. first the storm came ashore 16 years to the day after hurricane katrina made landfall and cause widespread flooding in new orleans. butg this time the levees in te world and held by the significant investment in the aftermath of katrina and strengthening the levees. fema was well-prepared for ida. because of the congressional the 15 years since katrina we have the authority to give us the flexibility to lean in quicker than we have in theuc past. the full force of the federal family is in position so we can respond quickly. we prepositioned millions of liters of water millions of meals specialized response teams in numerous resourcesiz from our federal community did a play based on immediate need after the storm had passed.
at fema we have seen the disaster response was locally executed managed and federally supported and i'mst proud of how well we supported our state and local partners in responding tol the storm. this is particularly true given the special challenges involved in responding to a disaster amidst ongoing covid-19 pandemic. third is the storm hit the united states fema was ready to implement important policy changes tot help underserved communities which are often disproportionately impacted. to obtain individual assistance to the full extent that they are eligible foras it. previously homeowners may run into difficulties proving that they own their home. if their property were handed down in formerly -- informally through the years prodigious as we have expanded the documentation that can prove ownership including documents like receipt for major repairs
or improvements public official letters global home park letters and at oak and self certification for mobile home and travel trailers as a last resort. in addition being the has changed the way it calculates the threshold for property losses to qualify them for direct housing such as a trailer or a mobile home. this ensures equitable damage evaluation regardless of the damage. the recovery phase for hurricane ida continues and we will be dealing with the consequences of this hurricane for quite some time. even as we do that work we must make a kind of generational level investments necessary to reduce the impact of climate fuel disasters that we will face in the months and the years ahead. mitigation investments are incredibly worthwhile an independent study by the national institutes of health a link sciences in 2019 found that
every dollar in federal mitigation invested saved the american taxpayer an estimated $6 of future spending. at fema the cornerstone of their mitigation efforts in building rezaian infrastructure programs. i would like to thank congress for providing the legislative tools toto create it for the disaster recovery reform act of 2018. a establishing a reliable stream of funding for largerea mitigatn projects through nationwide grant program to program provides a critical opportunity for states territorial tribal and local government to invest in a more resilient nation reduce disaster suffering and lessen future disaster costs. earlier this year president biden visited fema to announce he would increase the funding available for the program to $1 billion for fiscal year 2021$
application period. these are the investments that will protect lives and property in the future and the future storms we are going to face. another important element of famous mitigation efforts is to have the mitigation grant program for novice president biden approved more than $3.46 billion for the program for the covid-19 disaster declaration. as a result every state tribe in territory that received a major disaster in the declaration for the covid-19 pandemic will be eligible to receive a substantial level of funding to invest in mitigation projects that reduce risks from nash -- natural disasters. for mitigation projects funding can cover 75% of the total project cost while currencies covered the reigning share. we will be urging relative
agencies in your i state to ense that these funds are delivered to disadvantaged communities and we would welcome your support in this effort. one more critical piece is the fema flood mitigation assistance program or fma which helps provide financial and technical assistance to states and committees to reduce the risk of flood damage of homes and businesses through elevation and other activities. dit's the most common and natul disaster united states and the direct average losses have quadrupled by approximate $4 billion per year in the 1980s to roughly $17 billion per year between 2010 and 2018. the bipartisan infrastructure jobsac act approved by the senae in august would provide $3.5 billion over five years for the fma program. the biden administration is
urged the house to approve the infrastructure bill without delay and i would like to add my voice today in calling for its passage. mitigation is particular important for underserved communities that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. an administrative mitigation program will keep equity considerations top of mind and will include them aof competitie scoring process for such programs. equity is one of my top priorities at fema and the intersection of climate change inequity is a particular concern for our agency and the impacts or work for -- or worse for vulnerable communities. in closing i would like to thank all of first responders across our nation are amazing fema work force and they are their energy into partners for their tireless work responding to hurricane ida. we contained to answer the calls for response to buy climate change.
the intensification of natural disasters willst be normal but this is a call to action i look forward to continuing to work with congress to make our nation more resilient. i'd be pleased to answer any questions you have. >> thank you very very much for your testimony today and i recognize myself for five minutes. administrator criswell i know you've been to new york city with president biden and myself afterr hurricane ida and saw the devastating loss and suffering. as abr former commissioner of te new york city emergency management conference the office that resulted after 9/11 you know how intense ida's rainfall was and overwhelmed during the systems and caused flash floods.
people drowned in a basement apartment and they had to retrieve bodies including a 2-year-old toddler and you can see a picture what remained after an apartment is flooded and the five towns were new yorkers died on the flood map i was surprised to find all of them are located in areas marked as having minimal flood -- so i understand the fema flood maps are limited tools to provide information on some flooding but not all but is it true local emergency responders sometimes use fema maps to determine which residents should be evacuated and priorities after flood, yes ors no? >> chairwoman maloney thank you for thert question in my heart goes out to those families who lost loved ones. our flood maps are designed to be tools that account for
innovation as well as river flooding and they do not take into account the storm sewer system. as you saw where the record in new york broken by the previous record just a couple of weeks before that. our infrastructure has an opportunity to be upgraded and mitigated against we can prevent future flash flooding urban events like this and these are the types of projects that are eligible under a hazard mitigation program. we will continue to see the severe events across the country sunnis take action now to mitigate the effects of these type of events. >> that's great and i'm sure we will be applying for it. we saw the draining systems are overloaded across the country too. we have commit to updating flood maps in new york city to better
reflect stormwater and drain systems? >> chair monday the flood maps we will work with all communities to help update the maps in the information they have available. >> in addition to updating that does fema provide 20s upgrading stormwater drainage systems so they are more resilient to flooding such as what we saw with ida and extreme weather? >> some of those upgrades are things that would be eligible under the hazard mitigation program and i would encourage committees to check with their hazard mitigation specialist to see if they are eligible under that program. >> peace on hurricane otto investment in infrastructure before hurricanes hit in new orleans has a special system to reduce storm risk which fortified flood walls.
new york city invested in protecting water some areas vulnerable to storm surges with sea level rise after hurricane ida that ida run a different challenge -- far more to new york's 100-year-old drain systems. how can fema help new york and other cities assess the climate risks we are facing now? will fema give advice to cities across the country and how to become more resilient to extreme weather? >> i think you raise a really great point chairman and the levee systems are designed for a certain type of event and as we continue to see more and more rain event that will happen across our country we need to start again about the future risk that our communities are facing. we have technicalci assistance that we be happy to work with local communities to help veterans to stand with the rest are today in the future risk they are going to face.
>> why time is running out but administrators do believet. it's important federal agencies include a fema plan for the next disaster and local committees have a voice in that plan which is a bill that i'm introducing today? >> i think it's critical we continue the plan for what future disasters may be focusing her your efforts on our historical events and as we have seen this year it's going to continue to change will continue to be faced with more so that severe events. >> thank you so much and i now recognize that someone from louisiana who is very hard hit. mr. higgins is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you chairwoman. before it began my statement and questions i would like to introduce several documents for the record. in the just-in-time six of them are local articles detailing fema's actions in my district in
south louisiana and what is an official fema document discussing the changes in louisiana. >> those are all accepted. to make u.. administrator chris will thank you for being here today. let me clarify every public entity including the school board cameron parish supportively charles in the city of -- have numerous public assistance application still outstanding from the 2020 hurricane season. the funding has real world consequences that entities attempt to fund recovery efforts from a very slim margin of revenue and other revenue streams. the fact that over a year after
the initial implements the cities and towns are still waiting on a public assistance reimbursements that they qualify for or in some cases even to have fema expect there's a praise the damage year later. administrator criswell is a titan administration official to demonstrate in oversight hearings in the first as congress -- i appreciate you being here. ii look forward to our discussions. famous response to the 2020 and 2021 disasters have been issued within itself but her overall federalfe response is always seemingly late. while politicians and bureaucrats discussed the need for better mechanisms to respond to these disasters the answer is definitely not to create a bureaucracy. the bureaucracy we have is slow and thick as we discussed but
that is to the federal program we asked what you need. yes i focus on timely responses to the federal government and that should be primary. and better coordination and proactive efforts are needed. administrator criswell i wrote to you on august 15 regarding the school boards public assistance applications. this is an example of where chrissie that we are frustrated with from fema. the school board has to category's at 21 category b and 82 category e projects currently outstanding. this is from a stormy year ago now. while some of these applications have been approved there's very few. most of the requests are still outstanding.
davis appears pearce's $2 million worth of requests and these parishes cannot afford to carry that for a year for programs that they qualify for. additional regarding famous 50% rule the port of lake charles is submitted multiple projects in order to receive funding and is yet to receive one validation for determination from fema. administrator can you explain why this school district for instance, local governments and others like in him my district have had to wait in some cases over 300 days to receive reimbursement that they can clearly qualify for? is a funding issue? is the echoes of inspectors or is it due to bureaucracy maam? >> congressman higgins i certainly appreciate your
advocacy for your constituents in lake charles and we discussed this previously on the committee on hall of homeland security and following that i did make a trip down to lake charles visited with mayor nick carter to better understand some of the struggles that he has been experiencing and i brought my leadership team with me so they could follow strictly. some of the things we learned brand-new during that visit and we have been following up on it. i've have the specifics on the school districts that you it's taking too long this would it sounds like would it sounds like and i commit to you that my team will continue to work with the represents there to make sure we are moving forward as fast as we can. i thought we had made progress after that visit but i will follow up to make sure we are continuing to move forward. >> thank you administrator and we will communicate directly with ewiner office maam and refer to details and specifics.
madam chair thank you for holding this hearing today and my time has expired. >> of the gemini ellsbeck. the gentleman -- gentlelady from the district of columbia is recognized for five minutes. >> issue indicated -- as you indicated mayan district was spared but administrator criswell we see a rising number of natural disasters and i think that's because of climate change and therefore increased reliance on the federal government. your own national advisory council has indicated that the public assistance program benefit communities that can
afford to pay the required necessities of the contracting agencies. my question is what actions is fema taking to assist existing disaster he recovery mitigation programs to ensure outcomes are more equitable for all committees including those that cannot afford the required matching funds? >> congresswoman norton thank you for that question. all of our programs always have an opportunity for some improvement and since i'veun arrived here i have worked with my team and directed them to take the people first approach and remember that we can't have programs that come in with a one-size-fits-all way of applying our program. we have to be able to understand the needs and the unique needs
of individual communities and individuals themselves and instead of forcing them to always maneuver their way through the bee rock receipt. we have several programs -- several changes going into this hurricane season and in order to improve the delivery of our individual assistance programs. this is just the beginning. we will continue to look at ways we can reach our communities more equitably understanding i've seen first-hand how are underserved committees who are to have difficulty or more disproportionately impacted so you have my commitment to continuing to work on those programs to find ways that we don't always go with a one-size-fits-all approach and we understand the need needs of individuals. >> indeed d.a. always noted some communities don't have the
technical staff engineers grant managers and the necessary capacity in other words to submit a complex grant application and gao has recommended a centralized inventory of hazard mitigation resources on the fema web site. has fema developed and inventory of resources yet? >> what we have developed is their mitigation action portfolio which provides examples of medication projects that have been done across the country that can help committees understand the types of projects that could be eligible. i'm not sure if that's answering the question resources if not i will certainly look into it to see what exactly were talking about but i'd also like to say we also provide technical assistance. we understand not all
communities have the ability to hire somebody to come in and bright a competitive grant application which is why we are doing technical assistance to our infrastructure and community program. we offer this to 10 communities during the first round with double that to 20 communities and i've been working to stay partners to help identify those committees who need this type of assistance the most we can reach those populations that would otherwise not apply for this type of assistance. >> administrator criswell thanka you for that. the gao has published a report in which it notes the complexity of the application process for the timeliness to grant awards and the capacity required to professionally apply it is a problem. what specific opportunities has fema identifiedci to simplify or
shorten the application process? >> again there are couple of ways we can help communities with this. one is the technical assistance. one of the key ways we can help communities better understand how to navigate the complexities but other programs like her assistance to firefighter grants program we have a shorter application for a smaller amount to help get those through quickly that there are always opportunities for us to improve and i've asked my -- to take a lookd to look at oliver grant programs to get a betterer understanding of where we are missing some communities and to understand what the barriers are for them trying to reach out so we can address that root cause of the problem. >> the gentlelady's time has expired. i welcome the opportunity for technical assistance. and i yield back.
>> thank you. the gentleman from south carolina mr. gorman is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you chairwoman maloney and administrator criswell thank you for coming. if i could address your answer to congressman higgins but before i do that ms. criswell you talk about crisis, we have a crisis on the border. in seven months we have had over 170,000 illegals cross the border. it's a medical and military crisis crisis. the bad inflation crisis but ask any american who's paying 40 and 50% more for gas -- we have a military crisis in afghanistan at 13 dead marines and americans left behind. we have got crazies and the sequestration has simply not address them. chairwoman maloney as has been mentioned we have sent three
letters having testified before us different people. whyte is -- why is general mille not the forest answer questions and why is janet yellen not here answering questions? it's just words. you could not give the answer that you gave. he asked you questions about 2020 that have not been addressed and you said you would address specifics but why the delay? and congressman norman recovery takes a long time and it's
complicated and when you look an event like hurricane laura followed by hurricane delta there a lot of complicating factors that make it even longer to recover. we are working as fast as they can and coordinate with their state and local partners to assist with the recovery effort and there a number of things we can do to spell that out. out with all due respect when you receive or request almost two years ago was louisiana respondingng to the specificyo questions and did they respond to each one of them? >> i don't have the specifics of the letter received two years ago prior toe my assertion buti know we have addressed the request i've gotten since my time here in office. i started at the end of april. >> you would have looked over to see where it was and why the money hadn't been released? i'm saying if this had been the private sector you would have a
problem. president biden presented a proclamation on the southern border. if the crisis on the southern border is not an emergency then why was your agency the federal emergency management agency deployed to the southern border? >> congressman fema is really good at coordinating across federal agencies. it's one of the skill sets we bring totoe the table in one oe things that we -- and in this case we were asked to come and help coordinate and support our partners at hhs and cbp are. we have a limited role and we no longer have a presence in supporting that mission and it came to us to her normal interagency avenue. >> how much money is then expanded? >> i don't have the exact dollar amount at all of the funding has been reversed by those agencies.
>> could you get the numbers for us? could you report on why the dollars that were spent are still bare? >> we have nobody that is supporting that mission directly prince being supported through onour interagency venue. >> is there any other outstanding issues with other states that your agency needs to respond to or hasn't responded to? >> i would have to look specifically at what events you are talking about but to my knowledge we are still managing recovery so we will continue to support the disaster response and recovery effort. >> you left off with the fact that climate change is an overriding issue and i guess money is no object for combating climate change.
are you aware of the study by m.i.t. that set in every nation in the paris accord they would only emissions late .2%? >> i'm not aware of that study. >> and you take a look at it and tgive us some idea if that is true not? that's a pretty big statement for themat to make. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> thanknk you maam. >> the gentleman from virginia mr. connolly is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you madam chairwoman and thank you so much for having this hearing and administrator criswell welcome. we just talked about crises and he's absolutely right.
the biden administration inherited and those crises from trthe trump administration. everything from insurrection of the capitol to a pandemic made so much worse by the response or of response by the trump administration and the president himself. and another crisis, fema. 175 of my republican colleagues voted against it so director criswell if your budget has been dashed out is that a crisis to you and would you crisis for american terms of preparedness for disasters and response to disasters? >> congressman i do appreciate the continuing resolution so we can continue to sport the people.
any disruption in funding termination would certainly have an impact on our ability to protect the lives of individuals faced with catastrophe. >> thank you for that diplomatic answer but that you you are in a of an agency that does and bolts recovery and you are the federal agency to respond to federal disasters. has the frequency of hurricanes reaching land and continental united states. >> congressman what we are seeing as the number of hurricanes and wildfires in the number of severe weather events continues to increase they become more severe more intense and they are intensifying more rapidly and that's only going to continue to get worse. >> i was looking at interesting data between 2173 hurricanes of
magnitude three or four hit the continental united states which i believe is the first time that happened in the cumulative damage of those three events affected -- texas and florida worth $265 billion. that's the largest disaster in american history. and the question is given climate change when you do your planning what do your experts tell you? should we expect more? >> congressman what we are seeing from the impacts of climate changes we can expect to see more events like you just mentioned which is why it's soo important right now that we start to think about what the futurists are going to be and invest in mitigation projects where we can reduce the financial cost.
>> are you working with the state to do more resiliency planning because flooding is more frequent and tidal surges are bigger and more dangerous and more damaging. the subway system plugs any time there's a major storm and the ocean level rise is affecting parts of manhattan in terms of the subway. is your planning with local and state governments in terms of resiliency and can you tell us about it? >> the hazard plans address some of the problems you talk about in femake does provide assistane for technical assistance programs and we find the development of those plans.
but we need to do is to work with him closely to think about what are the futurists you are going to face so the next iteration of their planning is thinking towards the future and what are the crises that are children and grandchildrenen wil face so we can better protect against some? >> thank you. my time is up for it i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from pennsylvania mr. kelly is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you madam chair. flooding poses in a resource to her home's businesses crops and infrastructure and gives rise to -- i think we can all agree that flood protection and prevention are tools to mitigate damages caused by severe weather such as hurricanes and heavy rainfall that have the potential to decimate communities like the ones across pennsylvania and
their nation but particularly areas that i represent us well. ida and other that took place this year underscored the need for our communities -- that start with investing in disaster protection. the williamsport levy has affected large flood control projects and protects pennsylvania from catastrophic flooding. the levee system was originally completed in 1955 and was in desperate need of repairs. the water resources development act as a priority in my county in the conference a plan on the stay the levee system the single greatest threat to maintaining economic resilience.
commissioner criswell or if mr. trick criswell thank you for being here today i understand you have experience with emergency management. in many cases there are plenty of river towns like that in pennsylvania. you believe what you believe are some of the most pressing disaster related needs for communities like the one i represent? >> congressman i think the example you gave is a really great example of really understanding what our current risk is and we have those to understand whether or not the infrastructure that was billed decades ago is adequate to support the extreme weather events we will continue to see moving forward. i think it's critically important for all of us and we have a shared responsibility to look at what we can do to upgrade current infrastructure
and improve the mitigation projects that we have so they can reduce the risk of the increase in the number of weather events we are t seeing. >> i agree with that and are there ways we can streamline the process for investment in priority flood protection like the one in williamsport? >> i don't know the specifics about that but there are ways ways we can work together to streamline the delivery ofar projects. if there's something specific on that i'd be happy to have my team get back to you. >> i appreciate that because looking back to 1955 we want to be able to lower the risk from a process standpoint. we certainly need that flood protection in central pennsylvania and around our nation because it protects homes families businesses and it's so
important rev matt standpoint. if they are things we can look at how we can do to lower the risk of severe damage by having a streamlined process i'd like to deal the work with you and your team on that. again not just the areas they represent thatre many people in congress to need that help so anything we can do to help that along it like to work on that. >> absolute congressman. i'll have my team get that to you. of many projects were completed before i was born in 1955 but i've been in the area long time and it's important we protected and that's really her job. people who work for the individuals that pay our salaries at congress in fema and
a responsibility is to the people of united states of america and we have to make sure that their money is being invested correctly. i appreciate the time to be a day and i look forward to working with you and your team on the sport and issues. thank you and i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back but the gentleman from maryland is recognized for five minutes. you are muted. >> thehe gentlelady from new yok ms. ocasia-cortez is recognized for five minutes. thank you chair when it thank
you so much administrator criswell for not only joining us today but -- and also in addition to that your flexibility and implementation of our covid program which has helped families all across the country help recover from the devastation of the pandemic in addition to the other natural disasters across the country. chairwoman i would like to seek unanimous consent to present a record to submit to the record of full testimony for my constituents regarding her experience post hurricane otto. >> without objection. said thank you. he wrote to my office cao i looked out the window and saw cars attract.
woman waist deep in the street and people yelling for help and here are some of the images that we saw across the district could i strongly believe fema can play an active role in mitigating and experience like there is. earlier this year you told "the new york times" it climate change is the crisis upguard administration and as we look at the numbers according to the agency data in 2005 there were 48 major disaster declarations. in 2020 there were 104 major disaster declarations, more than double that number. the climate research commissioned by the city of new york projected that in 2015 the number of days without rainfall of at least 4 inches has increased by as much as 57% by
the end of the decade. that's compared to the period between 1971 to 2000. it seem operating and planning ahead for similar projections for the climate crisis? >> congresswoman thank you again for hosting the in new york city and being able to see some of the impacts that people experience from hurricane otto. completely devastating to those individuals and the data you mentioned highlights the thing that i'm stressing here is that we have to stop focusing all of our efforts on historical risk and the historical risk we have faced in the past and look to our futurist and better understand what that futurere rk might here. that's hard to do because it's not tangible. you can put your finger on what happened in the past but we have to be able to beat comfortable with understanding potential future risk and investment that
is going to take in order to protect against that future risk. i am committed with my team to upgrade mitigation plans and looking at what their future resulted to help them better understand what that future threat from climate change is going to be. >> thank you so much administrator. if we could list some of the measures, as climate change gets worse the way will have to approach disaster response and disaster prevention is going to have to involve increases in funding that we have. my question for you is if you could list some measures that would aid or assist assisting fema's role in responding to natural disasters but that some of those measures be? the funding for staff or growing disaster prevention streamlining
measures internal reorganization and from your birdseye view what are some of the things we need to know on the congressional side whether it's expanding authorizations etc. that you see is going to be necessary in the coming years and decades? >> it's a great question and there are two things i would talk about right now. one is that possess the -- disaster response like or really you'd reset for the disaster program for their l team has ben working hard and now they are working year-round to support the different types of weather events s at we are seeing and that's going to continue. we are taking a hard look at how we created year-round disaster workforce that can help us with the disasters we are seeing to the only way in the long in the long term we will in the long-term we will continue to deal to keep up with this as reducing the impact so we don't have to respond as much in the way we do that is mitigation.
we need to continue to educate committees about the importance of reducing the impact putting committed to wide mitigation projects to protect citizens. >> thank you very much. stand the gentlelady yields back and the gentlewoman from new mexico is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you madam chairman. i h want to piggyback on somethg my colleaguerd said regarding te border. it's an important part of this entire process and we know four and 58,000 people come in illegally in the year 2020 and over 1.5 million have come insofar. i don't think this is administration inherited a crisis i think you created a
crisis. administrator would like to know or their policies or decisions made by this administration that caused a crisis from the southern border and the illegal crossings? >> congresswoman fema's role is to support the response to disasters and we do not get involved in policy regarding immigration. i would have to refer you to the secretary. >> and can you give a couple of examples of how fema is able to provide hhs support for the accompanying minors out of her tact of custody? >> one of the things that fema does so well is helping to coordinate interagency efforts in large complicated structures and we were ableca to put a process in place that help them be successful in managing that mission. how we manage any of the events were respond to as far as
helping with the process helping with the flow putting the organization in place that can facilitate decision-making and setting benchmarks and standards and goalso you want to achieve. we are able to reduce the amount of time that migrant children were in custody and the amount of time >> with hhs. >> thank you. and going back to some of the services for clarity and i know people don't have flooding in new mexico but we have a large amount of rainfall in some other areas throughout the district. some communities and counties believe they cannot apply for grants unless the state declares that specific area and emergency. is that correct or are there programs where communities can go directly to fema? >> congress might have to understandnd more the specifics. you can apply for public
assistance grants unless there's a state declared disaster better hazard mitigation program like the bricks program and then there's also our preparedness program. i have to know specifically what types of grants you are talking about and i'd be happy to haveta my team follow-up. >> i would really appreciate that. some were hit very hard and they don't have the income and the ability to take care of these repairs. it's not big enough to be called aa state disaster. i welcome you to come to mexico. you still think of flooding -- but it still happens for those who live around the neighborhood i appreciate your hard work in the invitation is open.
i would like to push the information out to the district that i represent. absolutely maam. thank you for the offer. the gentlelady yields back but i would like to respond to your earlier comment about although we do not want to be distracted from today's topic in today's hearing i do want to note that migration across the border did not start under president biden. started long before his presidency and this congress and the child separation policy of the trump administration did not address the root causes of this problem and today is an important hearing on fema and its response to ida. i'd like to recognized the gentleladydy from michigan or yu are recognized five minutes. >> thank you mr. for being here
and thank you for the service you've had with fbi and as a firefighter for over two decades. thank you chair roman for holding this critically important hearing. when i talk to my residence they talk to me about the broken administration -- immigration system but rather i have a river inside of my home. we don't have the critical we need andney that the fact that we have a climate crisis in our country. i hope a bigger leadership changes can be made. as you noted in your testimony testimony ---- my folks have ben flooded four times the last two months and your team came with compassion and i can't express how much that means to me.
these are folks that do not have any savings to address the safety net and the damage to their homes. [inaudible] flood maps are critical tool to where decisions are made about investments and critical infrastructure in who gets evacuated during an emergency. famous flood maps have little to no flood risk. we are seeing that and fema officials on the ground can tell youe that we know an organizatn called smart street foundation
show that 8.7 million more properties are at risk from a 100 year flood than what fema map show and anything i can do to be a partner but does fema plan to update the data in the methods to include forward-looking climate protection and its flood maps with heavy rainfall in sea level rises? >> congresswoman thank you for the question and the represent the home state of where grew up in michigan and manatee michigan. flood maps are an incredible tool that we have an primarily and primarily the support we are seeing fromed coastal flooding o on got -- they don't necessarily reflect the rain events that would cause the urban floodings that we see. we have worked with the community to help them update
their community flood maps and we would be happy to work with communities to help incorporate additional data that they have to better portray the risk that they may be experiencing. i appreciate that i think we need to go farther. many of them don't have a -- with regards to that. we are at a point where we need to start thinking about how we do some of the preventive measures put in place to make sure people have that safety net with regards to flood insurance and infrastructure and my local communities were not prepared for this flooding hand i don't know how i can go back and say to figure out all
the tools necessary with regard to figuring it out. i'm a person that understands some of our cities may have more capacity but the smaller committees really don't have that capacity. i think we need to step up and way to look at these reports that are coming out. let's put some of that data in their with regards to fema and regards to where it's needed and we have a role in having us locals do that. i am asking you let's change that culture and let's not wash your hands of it and i think we have enough information out there that says we need to doo more. >> what you speak of amplifies what i've been saying is this is
the crisis of our generation that they all have a shared responsibility to make sure we have a better understanding what the risks are that we will face in the future so yes we have a lot of work to do and fema has a lot of work as well to support our communities and helping to understand that those arrests are. >> the gentlelady yields back and the gentleman from florida ms. wasserman schultz is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you madam chair. administrator criswell it's good to see you and i thank you so much you in your credible team. you could not have represented fema better or done more hands-on work than anyone could during this disaster in my congressional district. we are still dealing with that
crisis. their families have been torn apart and are in crisis and i appreciate the president's quick reaction and just for an opportunity to talk with you because there are some things we continue to need support for and i have somequ questions so we cn follow-up afterwards that would be really helpful. >> absolutely. >> thank you so much on behalf of my community. shifting to hurricane otto which made landfall in louisiana and that was a category 4 hurricane and one of the most devastating natural disasters in u.s. history and i'm quite familiar with the experience of natural disasters in the aftermath but in this case over the course of 24 hours ida went from a category 1 to a category 4 storm
and winds increased to 150 miles an hour. that's a story that my constituents in florida are all too familiar with. as the worms live across the northeast of the southeast intense rainfall brought dangerous conditions. i want to show on the screen a picture of louisiana and the flooding. my first question is can you underscore why hurricane otto caused -- caught so many people off guard? >> congresswoman eluster i will start with the fact that it intensified so rapidly as you stated. it went from a tropical wave to a category 4 hurricane in a very short amount of time and this is what we are starting to see more often. it gives officials less time to put their plansfi in place where
they normally have h several das to put plans in place and that time gets shorter and shorterefs these storms intensify more quickly. >> it feels like that window of opportunity is shrinking so quickly. although the area was bracing for the storm the city wasn't able to predict the severity of the flooding that would hit in fema does have a system that works in connection with local alert authorities to send out warnings for disasters but as the storm came through emergency alerts blared through cell phones that they should head to higher ground instead of floodwater. one of those alerts that and i quote this an extremely dangerous and lifeguarding situation. you believe that system and other warning systems intended for ide -- can improve the way information is shared about the risk of a pending disaster
because this is the first time new york has issued a flash flood emergency. >> it's an excellent tool that warns individuals across the country on a variety of disasters and it is work successfully across the country. i think when you're in an area that you haven't had it before it's hard to understand what the significance might be pretty think we all have a lot of work to do to continue to educate our communities when we are doing or public are paired with campaigns and importance of when you do get an alert like this you need to take it seriously and at the same time we have a lot of work to do to continue to educate our communities about what their risk might be so they know when something happens what whether your unique threats where you live and what alerts should you be looking out for? >> one last question because there were so many long-term challenges in investing in climate resilience is one of
them. as a member the appropriate committee i always push for greater funding for the weather service in the hurricane center. how does seem to a work with the national weather service to get the scientific data and forecast to translate those into public warnings and what moremo can be done to encourageag resident in the vulnerable committees to prepare for storms in a severe weather event? >> at the the weather service the national hurricane center are such amazing partners and we have operations that they are part of to look at what the current return we are working closely with noaa as we identify with the future risk to develop tools for local communities to better plan for what the impacts are going to be so they can put the proper plans in place. we will continue to work closele with them to try to develop these typesto of products so we can get additional information to the hands of our community.
>> and madam chair thank you for having this important hearing. >> the gentlelady yields back and the gentleman from georgia mr. johnson is recognized for five minutes.th mr. johnson. >> thank you madam chair for holding this hearing and it's well-documented that natural disasters exacerbate inequality. communities of color are disproportionately vulnerable to the harmful effects of flooding wildfires and tornadoes and moreover people of color are more likelye to die from the negative effects of climate change. when hurricane ida struck new orleans predictably like americans and nonwhite communities suffered the brunt of that devastation. hurricane ida is one marks ample in a long history of poor marginalized communities being
disproportionately hurt or natural disasters. in the wake of a federal disaster the government should prioritize rather than -- historically marginalized neighborhoods. it's common for many families to hold title to what's known as air heir property. when a property owner dies without a will their home and land is passed down over generations to their heirs and land titles become cloudy. because of an array of racist policies in the past americans particularly in the south were precluded from the legal system and unable to obtain title to their land. how is fema meeting the needs of historically oppressed communities who are unable to
locate guidelines which were designed to exclude them and what changes have been made to ensure that those who can't show clear titles to their homes can receive disaster assistance from fema? >> congressman you raise such an important question and it's something when i came into office i started to hear about and they knew that we could do better. >> we made significant changes going into hurricane season to better help with the issues that you raise. what we have done is we have expanded significantly the types of documentation that we will expect from individuals to prove homeownership or even to prove occupancy. that couldat range from paying your tax bill to utility bills a statement from your landlord a
wide variety of documents that can be expected now. the other big change that we have done as well as part of my effort to bring services to survivors to bring help to where the people are instead of making them come to us in the past if somebody didn't have that there qishan orat on line system now what we are doing is if they have a label to identify the documentation wee will still sed it to themn, personally and if they can see the back mentation upon arrival they can check that off in the system. what we are seeing with hurricane otto has increased dramatically the amount of people that have not had to go through appealing their determination that they did not own the property or they were not a resident or occupant of the property. this is just the beginning. we'll continue to make changes
for how we can equitably deliver programs meet people where they are and understand we can't have a -- we can have a process that the one-size-fits-all approach. >> thank you ms. criswell. georgia has the highest populationti of renters and some of the top 10 for states most at risk for a natural disaster, and renters applying for assistance through fema have to go through a very long process before they can get assistance. a what is being done to reduce the weight period for renters who were displaced? >> congressman some of the things that may have delayed their processes in being able to prove that they are occupants or renting a certain resonance, those are some of the changes we have made to our program. if there's anything else specific that you are aware of
that slowing down the process i'd be happy to have my team get with you to better understand the challenges your constituents are facing in georgia. >> thank you so much for your testimony today and for your actions in streamlining the process so more people can receive assistance and i yield back madam chair. >> the gentleman yields back and the gentleman from texas is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you chair and thank you administered or criswell for being here today. i come from a district that was dramatically affected by hurricane harvey and we spent the last four years working to help our communities recover from that. today is about ida but some of the things we have learned about katrina will help the disasters we are dealing with. i want to thank you for onappearing today in the issue e to ask about was the definition of resilience. one of the major issues we
address in the disaster recovery and reform act of 2018 was under the lot the time the program is designedce to rebuild back to a time that was a precondition of what it was and we found ourselves where we would rebuild to a standard that was not withstand potentially next storm. congress did that we begin to rebuild toward resiliency for future disasters but there were supposed to be a rule for what resiliency meant that could be defined by april 5 of 2020 and 90 days after that. could you let us know in writing within the next 14 days are so weak when we can expect that role to be finalized so we have the critical definition of resiliency? and out of some people are
having their claims denied based on resiliency but that term is still left undefined. could you commit to give us a timeline for that? >> senator i will have to get with my team but yes i can give you a timeline for the status on that. >> i really appreciate that. that would be a big help in one issue that is probably an issue for decades it would seem that for a long time it's been the staffing in the turnover. .. some are on their 12th program delivery manager in four years, dealing with these applications is very difficult. the for example the superintendent wrote us a letter were you aware of the rebuilding of the school facilities has been slow,
tedious, frustrating. two employees district architect spent nearly four years daily and navigating the fema process in today's received only three entered $82488 between the $15,000,020,000,000 in damages. with a 12 program delivery manager cycling through the case this has been -- there's never been an opportunity to really make any ground. and so i've heard of similar cases we've had a comment to a site visit seven different teams for example come up and show up. do you foresee any sort of solution or what are they doing to deal with the employee turnover? or at least to deploy the employee's behalf or longer term in the field? >> congressman i appreciate your insights.
part of it ises especially wilmer talking about for years. there will be some change in staff as we go through the years and complicated projects are talking about to take a long time to get to the recovery process. i understand the concern. as a previous manager how frustrating it is when you have to start over in explaining your story in where you're at in the t process. i will work with my team to figureay out to provide greater consistency for your folks down there. as they are continuing their recovery process from harvey. >> thank you. you know if there's any of report on how we are taken much longer time processing these claims and there is kind of a built in cost increase in recovery due to some of the staffing issues and how we are deploying them.
i would be very interested if fema could look into that and maybe provide a report to us on what we can do to streamline that. not only will it provide better customer service it would also help us to be much more efficient with taxpayer dollars in administrating this recoveryry program. is that something you all could work on? >> anything we can do is worth our research. i would happy to have my team look into that. >> gentlest time is expired thank you so much but now the gentleman from maryland is recognized for five minutes. thank you manager can hear me now? >> yes, sir. >> all right, so thank you
very much for your intense focus on this emergency we are in. it is clearly a code red for humanity and as president biden said in touring s the damage of hurricane ida the nation on the world are at peril. we are seeing an increasing frequency of natural disasters also increasing destructiveas the lot for the disasters coming. since then we visited $1.97 trillion in damages on the country. the average number of billion dollars extreme weather events were five per year. i just jumped to 16 per year.
the number of extreme weather events has tripled just in the last two decades. you have made climate risk reduction one ofie your top priorities. what is fema doing now to measure our progress to reduce their risk with climate change? >> congressman thatt is such an that you graph showed. it demonstrates how we are now in the crisis off our generation. the crisis is going to continue to get worse and continue to see only increase as we go further. we are investing in mitigating and reducing the impacts. that's close to $5 million this year to helphe communities reduce the impact they are seeing from climate change. we have to continue on that path forward. it takes a long time for that
mitigation process to be -- we have tott continue to work with our communities to understand the risk and make sure were getting this money in the hands of those people who need it most. >> would you help me understand this? we talk about mitigation what are we talking about the thing might friend congressman hagan is talking about which is the aid coming after a disastrous hit or a readiness about getting a ready in advance there'll be another hurricane to hit lake charles soon. >> it is a combination of both. it is predisaster mitigation funding but the hazard mitigation grant program is , funding that is available after a disaster. but it can be used for any risk they are facing print does not have to be directly related to the incident they had just experienced. we have to do is help communitiesnd understand the best ways to make these stcommunitywide investments to reduce these impacts from certain threats.
>> i want to ask you rather odd, question. i want to ask you about polarization and division and american society. i know that's not directly under your jurisdiction. but in some sense i think fema can be the place will be bring america back together. do you agree with me the risk and extreme weather events and the new frequency of the events and extreme velocity of these events should be bringing people together across geographic lines political parties and ideology lines and related to that extreme weather is obviously the problem being caused by climate change. but as my friend mr. hagan said this extreme bureaucracy they have complained about since the beginning of the public they want to make sure it's working for people per there's also extreme propaganda and asked dream did nihilism around climate change. can't we all gathered together
for the good work of fema, through hurricane and disaster readiness to bring the country together. is there a way this can be the source of unity for us? >> i think we all have a shared responsibility to help ensure we are protecting our nation from the risk from future events so our children, veour grandchildren future generations will not have to go through what we are going through now. disasters do not discriminate where they are going to land. they are not red or blue we do have a shared responsibility to work together to make sure we have the environment to support our future generations. >> i appreciate that very much. i appreciate you for your hard work. there is an attempt to save the disaster that have been inherited by the bided ministration were caused by the biden administration my friend for mr. conley correct that i i will resist the opportunity to save the entire last presidency was a disaster.
the situation we are and will bring all of us together as a country. >> the gentleman'' time has expired for the gentleman from wisconsin mr. grossman is recognized for five minutes. mr. grossman you are recognized. okay he had me somebody else or. >> yes erm can you hear me? >> good. >> a couple general questions. one of the criticisms always is we agree to which are we rebuilding the same areas again, and again, and again. i want your general opinion do we have a problem here there is some building going on in areas you could anticipate were going to have a problem again in the next ten years? >> congressman, we need to
take a concerted effort to skmake sure we know where the risks are and people understand if they choose they understand the risks are going to be what the impacts might be. what i think the thing i am looking for is is it reflected in premiums every doing something to make sure people are in precarious areas we are not rebuilding are you doing anything along those lines? >> what i can say is that our new risk training 2.0 the risk of where people build is reflected in their insurance premium in a way it has not been before. those that are in greater risk areas will have a higher premium. >> on the other side in my district and back of my day as a lawyer we felt their people
who did have very high premiums and subjectively looking at it there's no wait that's going to happen in 100 years for whatever reason lack of common sense or whatever. they were considered to be in the floodplain. argued doing anything in which some people are peeling off from that or not? >> i do not know i completely understand your question. >> as i understand it they require flood insurance if you are in a floodplain correct? and there are areas designated floodplains that you can talk to somebody, they go back to their grandmother who never remembers any floods inem that area nevertheless someone drew the line said this is a floodplain. you're stuck paying for this insurance everyone in the area believes will never happen in a millionn years. and you guys over time, and
take that into account and try to remove people from flood plane who perhaps were put erroneously in over a period of time. >> congressman again i think that goes to the new of the 2.0 takes an individual homeowner's particular risk. if someone does not have a risk they were paying for before then the rates would go down. next i understand. the question is have you peeled anybody out of floodplain in the past that was considered floodplain? >> i would have to get back to on the specifics for as the flood mapsat are updated data is incorporated into the risk of premiums. >> i think representative higgins has a very interesting question, representative higgins. >> i think the gentleman for yielding. ma'am, regarding respectfully
members of the delegation have written several letters to your agency. thises may predate your service and i respect that. but would like some answers on this. the quoteop t from the fema document states and 97% of currentt policyholder premiums bowill either decrease or increase by about $20 a month under risk a grade 2.0 probably know this is not true. preceding example, after example, after example of extreme variances in policy expense. maybe going from 5:30 or two to two, three, four, five, 7000 a year where there is incredible disparities between the reality of the implementation and what was expected and projected and communicated by fema as that legislation was passed. i ask, can you respond to that
please to this committee like formally. when can we get a commitment from you today that fema will consider delaying the oimplementation of 2.0 until we get solid answers about the realities of what it really means too american citizens that carry national flood insurance policies. >> the gentleman's time has expired. you may answer his question. >> thank you madam chair. >> we can certainly get back to you within a d specific information but it has implemented an already individual sourcing decreases in their insurance rates which is not the first time this program is taken equity into account to make sure people are paying for the risk that they have. >> the gentleman's time has expired heat yields back thee
gentlewoman from missouri is now recognized for five minutes, ms. bush. >> thank you madam chair for convening this important hearing today. hurricane ida it was yet another drastic example of how unprepared our nation is for increasingly dangerous driven by fossil fields for communities like mine that haves already been hurting for decorates we do not have room for these challenges of flooding and heat waves and more. like those that were destroyed or severely damaged by ida our community faces more and more climate risk every day. administrator chris wells fema disaster programs are not targeted to those. for program design combined with unequal access to resources to work in every single climate that hits this country. an example when fema conducts damage assessment after storms they are measured based on property ownership. this focuses relief program on
wealthier parts of the community and neighbors most in need of support. similarly the national flood insurance program only supports people who can afford to buy flood insurance. almost precisely the opposite of how this program should work. transforming this program would mean saving lives. if he immediately after a disaster is out of reach for frontline communities. fema's national council is being and i quote more accessible with time, income and access. thank you for being vocal about your commitment and programs i was very, very glad to see the policy that would allow black families in the south who did not have a formal deed or approved home ownership to access disaster assistance. but can you explain how this will specifically help black,
brown, and other families? >> yes congresswoman. it's so important we do not over complicate the system that is already complicated. we don'tap try to use the one-size-fits-all approach. because every situation is specific to them and unique to them. it's so important that we understand that and we put people first. the changes we have made all already seen big improvements in the people deemed eligible for our program seeming they did not have to go to the laborious process of trying to appeal what normally would have been denied. those are only the beginning of theld changes. we are continuing to look at our programs so their rights to property ownership is just the start. we're going to continue to see where have we taken this cookie-cutter approach and the need to adjust it so we can better understand the unique needs of specific communities
as we deliver our services. i'll be happy to work with your team at any suggestions you haven't anything you have seen. >> thank you is an excellent policy changed we know will benefit many people. we need to expand it to st. louis, my home and across the country as we develop further reform. what other examples of changes has fema made or intends to make will improve equity in disaster relief? can you give me some examples? >> the other examples i would give is we also changed the cost threshold for determining whether or not you would be available. these have a fixed dollar amount for that threshold that it's hard for homeowners with smaller amount of damage and eligible for the programs. now wet have at a cost per square foot which is really starting to affect our lower income populations until they become eligible for the direct housing program. again just one small example
of how it taken the cookie-cutter approach we have had in the past and make it unique and specific to the individual's needs. >> thank you, thank you. the biden administration has an initiative by selecting programs to be piloted under the affording program. it's the whole of government to make sure you work with the same communities to deliver the minimum 40% of the community paid the stakeholder engagement plan to maximize benefits[i are among those that are supposed to be developed already. so how will engagement with impacted disadvantaged communities and former assessment? >> we are very excited to be part of the justice 40 initiative but it's part of our brick program and flood mitigation assistance program that we are incorporating that into. we've adjusted her scoring criteriaia to give greater points to underserved
communities will work with other state partners and technical assistance programs to get the message out there and reach out to our stakeholders they understand the importance of having more individuals that are part of the communities apply for this type of assistance. we're looking forward to seeing what we can include this in additional programs of the future butad very much looking forward to seeing the results of this funding go. >> wonderful. >> the latest time has expired regretfully she yields back the gentleman mr. welsh you are now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you veryou much. and welcome administrator you have one of the most important jobs and we have benefited here in vermont during tropical storm irene with the extraordinary work fema did so we are grateful. actually jamie raskin said is something we all feel that
something that can unify us has been a good thing. the topic i want to discuss is not directly under your control obviously. but the breakdown in the grid and the g challenges to the grid are kind of a necessity for upgrading the grid. i want to ask about what the impact would be with respect to the scope and scale of what you have to contend with after a big storm and an event like i did it. maybe you could start by describing what the impact was on families and communities after ida because of the long term shutdown of the grid and how that impacted them and how it has made the challenge you and your folks at fema have had to contend with. >> congressmen the power grid is so important to keep the communities moving in the sooner we can get the power turned back on, the sooner the
recovery begins. what we see is that as it continues to delay the power getting turned back on these communities have such an increased amount of time for recovery. we saw and heard a cane ida it was hospitals having to be evacuated. communities having to be evacuated. that all puts a toll on their families and on their communities. and so we need to be able to work with our private sector partners to help them get back online quicker if we can. it is also an example of how our infrastructure and many places is so outdated and we have to invest in improving our infrastructure so it can withstand this increasing number of severe weather events we are going to continue to see. >> this power outage situation and ida how long did that last in some communities? >> i think there are some community some smaller communities that are still without power in southern
louisiana. but many parts of the state they were without power for several weeks. >> practical level of family cannotmi go back to a house where they can't stay in the house once the storm subsides. that added burden for the resources of fema to help those folks have shelter and food and warmth or cooling whichever the case may be. >> i would not state it's a burden for fema et cetera type of support we provide the communities to help them duringel their recovery process. it's certainly a burden on the family that has been impacted. but we do have the resources and tools necessary to provide that temporary lodging. >> you are good to correctly on the term of the use of burden whatever the needed is your job and i get that but the needs of that family have in that community are greater because they cannot get backey in there house and get things
put back together, correct? >> absolutely it delays their overall recovery process make it that much longer for them break. >> let me ask you about that. i think great resilience and modernization is essential. when we had hurricane irene the families were able to get back and even though the house was a mess. there is a mother and they had to start digging it out. my observation was there is a lot of hope that they had there on the road to getting back to normal wear as if somebody is out of their home for not two days but two weeks or two months then that hope begins to fade. tell me if that is a fair assessment and your experience. >> sewer i would think that is a fair assessment. people want to be able to start recovering quickly. when they are prevented from that it causes additional despair for those families. >> okay thank you very much for your good work and i yield heback.
>> thank you very much madame chair could hear me okay? >> yes. thank you administrator, i really appreciate the testimony, i know everybody does today. and thank you for your good and important work. as youid know, hurricane ida did huge damage to many parts of the country. but that included maryland as well. september 1 it came to the state of maryland and damage hundreds of homes and businesses unfortunately even claimge o the life of a resident of rockville. i am very grateful to the president and to you for granting the maryland delegation request for federal disaster assistance to the hazard mitigation grant program which you spent a lot of time today talking about
that was granted on september 13. last week i joined the maryland delegation and urging the president to approve the state of maryland request for presidential declaration for individual assistance which were hit by severe flooding and a tornado in fact. and has mitigation grant program assistance for all jurisdictions in maryland. so our residents, like many others in these various states will get the assistance that theysi need. this is a federal assistance it's very necessary, it is warranted i can hope it can be expeditiously reviewed and granted. i want to talk about the grant program aas little bit. as i understand that fema provides for up to 75% of the cost share situation. so the federal government
provides 75% of eligible project costs and states and communities cover the remainingre share. do you know has there been discussion june with the capacity is, can you give insight to the potential for fema to increase the make it more likely have budget crunches can respond to current disasters and better prepare obviously this may not be critical in every instance but there's going to be situations where communities are going to be either reluctant or incapable of accessing the program's benefits because of the cost share obligation. i wonder if you could speak on any kind of thinking overview
on that front? >> thank you for raising that. question. the program is such an amazing tool to help communities again fight against the risk that we arees seeing and prevent future damages from the severe weather. i have heard from many people across the country that they do have a struggle meeting the cost share requirements. that cost share requirement is set forth in the stafford act. that is not something we can orchange. however i think there is work we can do to help communities partner and try to find other funding sources that perhaps could be available to help them with that. i am going to be meeting with state directors to have this same conversation of how do we help communities take advantage ofof this critical resource so they can start to invest in the future risk. >> i appreciate that. any recommendations if their
statutory changes there to work better, any recommendations you can offer us based on the data you are gathering up from across the country that may show uneven opportunity to take advantage of the hazard mitigation program i think will be very, very helpful. and again i want to thank the president for committing an historic amount to this hazard mitigation fund. i think three and half a billion dollars to reduce the effects of climate change which we know is the most pressing factor in all of this. annapolis over the past 50 years has experienced an incredible increase in nuisance flooding which closes roads,st it overflows drains, damages infrastructure is one of the most extreme impacts we've seen in the country. today annapolis expects over 50 flooding events every year up from it for annual flooding
events just 50 years prior. very focused on this thank you for your goodth work thank you is this huge impact to both prepare for and havesi resilience for. >> the gentleman yields back the gentleman from massachusetts ms. presley is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you madame chair for convening this important and timely hearing. certainly national disasters are disruptive and traumatic life events to suddenly lose your home, your savings, family heirlooms, or even the lives of loved ones have devastating impact on survivors mental health. when the traumas left unaddressed survivors can develop drastic mental health consequences. in fact a national disaster by age five is associate with 6%
a 16% increase in mentale health or substance abuse issues and adulthood. nagain, experiencing a natural disaster by age five is associated with a 16% increase in a mental health or substance abuse issue in adulthood. : : : survivors found one in four had ptsd. fortunately, the administrator of fema has a program in place to address the immediate mental health impacts. administrator criswell, can you tell us what the crisis council program is and how fema has worked with localities to help survivors in communities across the country. ms. criswell: thank you. mental health is important for both disaster survivors and my employees as well. our crisis counseling program is a tool available to help crisis
survivors manage the stress and cope with losses they experienced from this disaster. it is available under the individual assistance program when that is authorized for major disaster declarations, and executed by the states. it is an important resource to help individuals impacted ia disaster. -- impacted by a disaster. representative: i thank you for including your staffing that. we have to heal the healers as well-paid this program has been deployed nationwide in response to covid-19, and in puerto rico following hurricanes and in new york following the september 11 terror attacks, to name a few. however, many people survive disasters, terror attacks, violence and natural disasters that can't take advantage of this program. there are two types of disaster declaration -- major disasters and emergency declarations.
is the crisis counsel program currently available following emergency declarations? ms. criswell: no, it is not currently available for emergency declarations. representative: i would like to implore you to make that change. it should be available under both declarations. over the past decade, there have been more than 4000 emergency declarations in the united states. i represent boston. the boston marathon attack, the i am in boston boston marathon. some of it manifested later. i think it's time to assure survivors of all disasters can access a counseling and be with long-term services. i appreciate agencies work with me on my proposal to expand the program to emergency declaration.
in the two help more people. i would love to follow up with you be on this hearing and would love to hear response to that. >> yes, ma'am. we'll be happy to continue providing technical drafting assistance on making that change. again that's so important we can take care of the mental health of those people that have not been impacted by these tremendous events. >> i also seek to engage those closest to the pain. survivor of the boston marathonon bombing shared her story s and wishes the assistance provider of the crisis counseling program had existed for her eight years ago. so really it's time to ensure the survivors of all disasters can access counseling and be connected to long-term health services. lookth forward to being in touch with you about that. and the little time i have remaining could you respond to what are the provisions and
plans for those that are disabled? those who are incarcerated and those who are hospitalized when it comes to major disaster or emergency declaration. there any protocols any place in a plans? >> i do not know that i'm understanding specifically what you arere asking. our disaster d response program is to help all people who have been impacted by those disasters. we do have an entire unit here that focuses on the planning and preparedness for people with disabilities. we work closely with the state partners to the regional offices to understand the unique situations within each of the communities once a disastrous happened like those who may have been incarcerated. >> okay. all right we will follow-up on that as well thank you so much. >> thank you. >> without objection mr. troy carter from louisiana is authorized to participate in today'sd hearing.
louisiana was greatly impacted you are now recognized for. >> thank you for the opportunity to participate in this hearing. as a. nonmember appreciate the the opportunity to present. >> a sustained winds of 150 miles per hour the coast of louisiana experienced 16-foot storm surges and significant flash flooding. sixteen years to the day, 16 years to the day hurricane katrina the federal government made substantial investments in assuring up our levee system and it made a big difference in this hurricane. we are hopeful that going forward under billed back by litter and resources will do the same bike bearing our grid to make sure people never have to suffer weeks of being without power.
it is a very difficult in the sweltering months of august to be without power for senior citizens, for people with disabilities for young people it adds insult to injury. we are hopeful as we build back better we continue to build on the six of the pat pass. we do hurricanes come every year would don't know the name yet we know with climate change warmer waters bring stronger storms. we should endeavor to do better than we did from previous years that we did after katrina. administrators thank you i want to thank president biden senior pfizer richman for coming to my district for coming to louisiana, walking the streets of the community and seeing firsthand. i cannot tell you how much that meant to the people of louisiana to have you on the ground to see firsthand the level of devastation. hurricane katrina caused major
damage in my district and across louisiana. knocking out the electric grid and leaving trails of damage along the gulf coast for their two points i would like to get across quickly before my time lapses. the storm shows the value of federal investments in protecting communities in areas like new orleans and new river parish storms and flood protection systems stayed dry after investments with katrina. we know now to ensure these are weatherproof for the future. having lived through my fair sharegh of storms, i have seen recoveries that work and recoveries that don't. the biggest factor is how quickly we get money back into the pocket and start people getting back to some semblance of normalcya with their lives. we need federal recovery process that recognizes this. far too many recognized months to kick in. part of the fema recovery you
instituted several policiesie and waivers for people that miss check the box and as a result many people were denied i should say firmest checking the box. what can we do to create an appeal process for a person who made an innocent mistake or accident in their filing are not summarily rejected? >> congressman, the program we implemented you are talking voters are critical needs assistance program it is an amazing tool that helps us get money in the hands of survivors quickly. able to getet money in the hands of survivors faster than any other. we did hear some individuals are having difficulties with how they answered the questions. and so we did go back and take a look at what we were using as criteria to approve those
critical needs assistance. we are able to get funding to additional 120,000 families. we are now take a look at our systems to see it we can do moving forward we are always trying to improve the delivery of our services to help give money to those who are eligible for it. >> i wanted to take time to thank you too. you and your people have been incredible. we have challenged every possible way. we push the envelope to try to makee things more seamless for the people. we've been on the 1 yard line of fema to make sure they do that partt we want to thank you as well as your people on the ground for doing a great job in that regard. real quickly, the blue roof program both very effective can you share with me ways or things you are putting in place to advance a movement more quickly as you know we continue to have rain and the ability to mitigate the damage it will be very helpful if we could do it faster but. >> okay the gentleman's time has expired but you may answer
his questions. >> thanke you madam chair. >> congressman the program is a partnership with fema and the army corps of engineers. it's a great program that provides a temporary repairs to homes as you know. i did speak directly to talk with the status of the program he has assured me he has made improvements into how they are executing their mission. and i think from the numbers i'd see they've already typically increase the number they have insulted but that is never fast and apart and pushing our people as well as the army corps to continue to find ways to get those on the homes as quickly as possible so we can get people back in their homes sooner. >> thank you. i now recognize mr. higgins closing statement. mr. higgins. >> thank you madam chair. administrator criswell thank you for being here h today. we have more work to do. my office will be delivering a
letter to you and your senior staff by the close of business today documenting specific urgentti request to fema on behalf of my constituency who has been suffering for over a year. i would like your personal commitment, ma'am, you will receive our letter and be involved. you have been very gracious today and professional. i thank you for that. i'm going to lean on you for a commitment to personal involvement in that letter we delivered today. and finally regarding rural areas and small towns, id beg of you madam, let's make sure our small towns, rural areas, poor communities get adequate attention and compassionate response. that they do not get left
behind. can i get your commitment on receiving our letter, documenting specific requests and can i get a commitment rural areas in poor communities do not get overlooked and left behind? >> congressman higgins you have my commitment to be personallyou involved. in that response to your letter i like to thank you and congressman carter for your leadership in supporting the people been impacted by these recent events in louisiana. >> thank you ma'am. and to make colleague representative carter he has done amazing complement to the louisiana delegation. i commend him for the work he does and continues to do. he has a big shoes fill with a friend and colleague congressman richmond is now in the white house as a senior advisor. we are louisiana strong in congress and the white house. we are joined together. madam chair thank you j for your
gracious allowances of time during this hearing. thank you very much madam high-yield. >> the gentleman yields back. now recognize myself. in closing out to thank administrator for testifying today. thank you and all the fema employees who are working tirelessly to respond to disasters around the country and visiting the site personally to oversee and help. i want to emphasize survivors of hurricane ida as well as previous disasters still need help. they need to know how to apply for financial assistance. they need clear information about what qualifies for assistance and they need quick processing of the responses. administrator i appreciate the commitment you made today to work with all communities, to update their flood maps so they can be more accurate with community input. i also think it is important to emphasize your testimony
that communities can't apply for fema grant money to invest in mitigation even when they are in an area that is not been declared a disaster. as we heard from you today we need to in climate and resilient infrastructure make sure we are investing in frontline communities that are-l disproportionately impacted by weather. support the federal the bill i introduced today it would ensure the federal government has a comprehensive plan to tackle climate change coordinated by the white house in partnership with the local communities. build back better act can be better prepared for future disasters. these investments are critical so state and local governments
are not dealing with the immense cost of recovery from disaster on their own. in closing i want to thank all of our panelists and their remarks productive commend my colleagues with that all members have five legislative days and wish to submit materials and submit additional written questions for the witness to the chair which will be forwarded to her for her response. ask our witnesses to please the respondent is probably as you are able. this hearing is adjourned, thank you so much to everyone who participated. >> tonight the potential impact of a cashless economy on disadvantaged communities a house subcommittee held this hearing earlier watch 8:00 p.m. eastern on cspan2, online at c-span.org or on the new video app c-span now. >> the u.s. senate returns a session on monday to resume judicial nominations with both
scheduled for the afternoon related lake lawmakers are to debate a bill on elections and voting rights watch live coverage of the senate monday 3:00 p.m. eastern on cspan2. watch firstname.lastname@example.org or our new video app c-span now. >> sunday night on q&a institution senior fellow wall street journal economist discusses his book only the rich can play. >> opportunity zones 8007 at 64 across the country. they gave wealthy people an incentive to put their money in those poor communities in exchange for capitol gains tax break. we don't know how much money has gone into them as a result of that process known as reconciliation which is now a household word.
but it's a based on the stuff i have said tens of billions of dollars going into opportunity zones. but unfortunately did not really need the money. they were already improving her went to projects that probably would have been built otherwise by. >> david wessel this book only the rich can play sunday night at eight eastern on c-span q and a. you can listen to q&a in our podcast on c-span now app. get c-span on the go watch the days of biggest political events live or on-demand any time anywhere on your new mobile video app. c-span now access top highlights discovered new all for free download c-span now today.