Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held an oversight hearing to examine the response by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Hurricane Ida.
Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, and good morning to everybody.
“It is good to see a familiar face here in Major General Graham, who served as Commander of the Pittsburgh District—when I was in Congress, you were my Corps leader—which covers a significant portion of my state of West Virginia.
“Colonel Murphy, thank you for being here today, and for the warm hospitality extended by you and your team to the committee staff during their visit to Corps facilities in Louisiana earlier this year.
“I also want to thank General Tickner for being here with us today.
“Thank you to all three of you for your service—I know some of it has not been domestic, some of it has been international, and I thank you for that.
“We all intently watched the impacts and aftermath of Hurricane Ida, both in Louisiana, but also in the Northeast.
“Tragically, an estimated 82 people lost their lives, and there were billions of dollars in damages.
“Those of us from states and communities that have recently experienced terrible natural disasters feel greatly for our fellow Americans impacted by this hurricane.
“As both ranking member of this committee and also of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, my staff and I have stayed abreast of FEMA’s response to this disaster and the efforts of other agencies providing support, such as the Corps.
“By the most recent count, the Corps has more than 710 personnel deployed and received 24 mission assignments totaling $223.4 million in response to Hurricane Ida.
“The Corps has also issued $2.5 million in Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies funds under Public Law 84-99.
“This funding went towards the protection and repair of critical infrastructure, as well as the provision of equipment and facilities to fight floods and maintain essential services.
“Again, I want to reiterate my gratitude to you and the men and women of the Corps for performing these critical functions.
“I am also eager to hear from you on how we can support the Corps’ efforts to help the nation respond and recover from these types of disasters in the future.
“By all accounts, the Hurricane Storm Damage Risk Reduction System for New Orleans authorized by Congress and constructed by the Corps after the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina performed as intended.
“The system prevented a more significant loss of life and severe damage to the city.
“Not all areas were covered by the system, however, and the devastation seen in these unprotected communities in Louisiana was replicated in Northeastern states.
“It is important that local, state, and federal partners continue to work together to identify and address existing gaps in flood risk management and coastal storm damage reduction.
“The $5.7 billion in supplemental funding provided by the Congress to the Corps just last week will support these efforts.
“Solutions will take time, however, which is why it is also important that the Corps continues to work with communities to identify and mitigate risks through its Silver Jackets program, Planning Assistance to States, and other authorities.
“Challenges with—and suggested improvements to—existing technical assistance programs are something that I am keen on hearing on from all of you.
“I am also eager to hear about how we can support the Corps’ efforts to help the nation respond and recover from these disasters in the future.
“This committee will do its part in this process by authorizing individual projects and studies and providing programmatic direction to the Corps through biennial Water Resources Development Act legislation, which we’re actively engaged in right now.
“In closing, let me reiterate my gratitude to our witnesses for being here today, and I thank Chairman Carper for holding this hearing.”
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