Texas Wildfire Review: Did Bureaucracy Prevent a Timely Response? Field Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management of the Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, First Session, October 17, 2011   [open pdf - 2MB]

From the opening statement of Michael T. McCaul: "In my judgment, help should be just a phone call away and not a series of requests winding their way through a bureaucratic maze at a time of enormous emergency. Texas followed the process asking for relief in 252 of our 254 counties over an extended period of time. This is what the people of Texas said they needed to fight these fires. Upon FEMA's recommendation, the President only awarded 45 counties relief, and no immediate fire fighting aircraft support. This inadequate funding wasn't even an immediate directive. It took the President 13 days to sign the declaration. During that period, the President made time to assist Alabama's tornado disasters and even visit Alabama to see the devastation. Meanwhile, Texas burned. This is unacceptable. Help should be a phone call away. So I would like to know here today from our witnesses: Why was there a delay in deploying critical resources? Why did it take weeks? What is the formula FEMA uses to decide how much assistance to provide and what resources to send? How much subjectivity is involved? Why does FEMA continue to use a county-by-county assessment of relief rather than a regional basis? To ensure this situation does not happen again, FEMA must streamline its application process for disaster declarations to immediately start providing aid, cleanup, and rebuilding process. Many Texas fire departments had to choose between filling out paperwork to meet FEMA's deadlines and firefighting--fighting fires that continued to burn." Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Michael T. McCaul, Henry Cuellar, W. Nim Kidd, John F. Nichols, Kevin Starbuck, Tony Russell, and Tom Harbour.

Report Number:
Serial No. 112-52
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Government Printing Office, Federal Digital System: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/
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