“What’s Next?” Hurricane Harvey: The Road to Recovery

– Thanks for coming out tonight. This is the first event
in what’s going to be the Bush School’s What’s Next Series. Tonight we’re gonna be discussing Hurricane Harvey, The Road to Recovery. Occasionally, throughout the semester, as there are big events
either domestically or internationally, we’ll be
planning events like this, so, check your emails for further events or the Bush School Facebook page. So, we’re gonna start kind of,
I’m gonna give a little bit of just basic background information about Hurricane Harvey and some
of the damage that was done. Then, I’ll introduce our three
distinguished panelists here, then I’ll turn it over to them. They have about 10 minutes a piece for information they’d
like to share with you. And then, we’re going to
open up for questions, so be thinking about some questions that we can answer for you. Alright? So, Hurricane Harvey is, a lot of you were probably
personally affected by, was a catastrophic and extremely destructive
Atlantic hurricane. In a four-day period, many areas received more
than 40 inches of rain as the system meandered over Eastern Texas and adjacent waters causing
catastrophic flooding with peak accumulations
just over 50 inches. The resulting floods inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people, and prompted more than 17,000 rescues. On September 3rd, Texas
State Governor Greg Abbott estimated that the damages will be between $150 billion to $180 billion. If those numbers pan out to be correct, that’s the most damaging
hurricane on record. The floodwaters contained
a number of hazards to the environment and human health. The Houston Health Department stated that millions of contaminants
were present in floodwaters. These include E coli
and coliform bacteria. Measurements of coliform units show that concentrations
were so high, they’re at risk of contracting flesh eating
disease from the water. Houston officials stated
the Houston drinking water and sewer system were intact, however hundreds of thousands people, across the 38 Texas counties
affected by Hurricane Harvey, using private wells, according to an estimate
by an LSU researchers, that those people were gonna have to fend for themselves in the meantime. Additionally, Harris County,
which includes Houston, contains a large number
of Superfund designed burn field field sites, that contain a wild variety
of toxins and carcinogens. Two Superfund sites in
Corpus Christie were flooded. So, now begins the road
to recovery for Texas. Tonight, we have Bush School experts as I already alluded to speak with us. To my right here, in the first chair next
to me is Dr. Danny Davis. Danny is a senior lecturer
at the Bush School. He’s a coordinator of
the Executive Masters in Public Service Administration, and the director of the
Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security. To the right of him is Dr. David
McIntyre, who is a lecturer at the Bush School of
Government and Public Service. Dave has been writing, teaching, and presenting on National Security and Homeland Security issues for 30 years. He has taught for 20
semesters at the Bush School and was a fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at
George Washington University. To the right of him is
Professor Ron Sievert. Ron is a senior lecturer and
director of the Certificate in Advanced International Affairs program. Whew, it’s a mouthful. Alright, to that I will go ahead and turn it over to our panelists
and we’ll go from there. – Good evening.
– Howdy. – You say that to a room full of Aggies, they don’t know what you’re
saying the next 15 minutes. It’s good to be with y’all today. There’s our agenda right quick. My job tonight is to kinda set the tone of how the United States,
the state, and local set up and organized to respond to, and respond and recover from disasters. Homeland Security. – Don’t wanna get ahead.
– That’s alright. Emergency management, you see it’s a managerial function. And that’s what the, that’s what its purpose is. So, it’s designed to protect
communities, coordinating, integrating all the different
activities, local, state, in some cases tribal, and all, and the federal level jurisdictions. That’s what it’s all about. Okay, the Department of Homeland Security, which you all know it’s
been around since about 2002 after the 9/11 attacks. It has five missions, here’s two, and two more, and then the one that
we’re concerned with, ensuring resilience to disasters. That can be a natural disaster, or they can be a man made disaster. Guiding documents, the Department of Homeland
Security puts out. Here you got the strategy. It comes out about every four years. You got the National Response Framework which lays out the foundation of all this response recovery business. The National Incident Management System, that’s the document that establishes a framework or a foundation
upon which local, state, or federal organizations,
departments, agencies can organize their activities. And then the National Preparedness Goals is just what that is. They set goals at the national level, and then the states, locals,
try to live up to those goals along with the Feds. And finally, what we’re
really concerned with, the National Disaster Recovery framework. This is integrated with all, with the other four
document that I showed you, and it does just what we’re talking about, disaster recovery, that’s
what it governs those things. The quote down there at the
bottom, all disasters are local, that comes from the
National Response Framework, and that is the idea that it’s
the local elected official or responsible official
that’s responsible during, in Harris County, County Judge, Brazos County, the County Judge, in Houston, the Mayor of Houston. So, but that’s who controls. You know you might see some time, a FEMA official get up
in front of the camera. Back during Katrina you
saw General Honore get up. He wasn’t in charge. They were all answering
to that local official, whoever that was, as to what the needs of the
response and recovery were. Real quick, there’s a disaster,
doesn’t matter what kind. Next, those are the people that show up, the first responders. Well, obviously especially in a situation like we just got through with Harvey, a lot of those people
can’t show up, can they? They’re victims too. So, when that happens, when the local area is
overwhelmed by the disaster, the state comes in. The state op center is up in Austin. They set up, they’re running there. They’re coordinating
with the different EOCs in the different counties. For this disaster, there
were 46 counties affected, 46 counties, whole lot of people, whole lot of a critical
infrastructure, et cetera. So, you’ve got the state, the DPS, all the different assets
that the state has. From there, if he needs
the National Guard, the governor can use state, state active duty, and
the state guard stands up. And as you know one of the things that went real well this time. The governor didn’t stay back. As we used to say in the Army, he was leaning forward in the foxhole. He was ready and before
the flooding started, he already had assets,
including National Guard. that were congregating,
getting ready to respond. If we have something called Emergency Management Assistance Compacts. And that’s, those are agreements between the different states. So, if for example the, that was good. (audience giggles) He was supposed to catch that. If for example, the state
needs electric power, then maybe Oklahoma, they have this, one of these EMAC
agreements with Oklahoma, between Texas and Oklahoma. They’re able to call for those lineman to be able to come down and help in Texas. So, that’s state to state, excuse me. The state is overwhelmed,
go ahead, the next one. Then that’s when the request
for federal assistance goes, the governor to the president. The 23rd is when the governor asked for a federal declaration. The 25th is when President
Trump approved it. So, again both the state
and the federal government were leaning forward, being
getting ready for this disaster that everybody knew was coming. In this case, Department Homeland Security is the lead Federal agency. As soon as that happens they
set up a joint field office. In this case it’s, they co-located up at the state
operation center in Austin. So the Feds and the state are
working right there together. Next one. In the big disaster like
the one we just had, FEMA, or the DHS with FEMA as the lead agency, they’re able to to request assistance from other federal
departments and agencies. In this case, as you see on
the slide they asked their, they go to DOD, Department of Defense. DOD is the big gorilla in the thing. And a lot of people think
that the DOD shows up and everything’s fine. That’s not necessarily case. DOD is slow and it cost a lot of money, and you always gotta keep that
in the back of your minds, but at any rate, DOD pitches in. When that happens, US Northern Command up in Colorado, they are the combatant
command that responds, or that’s responsible for the homeland. So, they get the call. They send a Defense Coordinating
Officer, who’s a colonel or maybe a colonel in the
Army, or the Marine Corps, or Air Force, captain in the Navy, that DCO goes to the joint field office, and then he’s working hand in hand with the federal with the FEMA
people and the state people. That’s how they, all the DODs requirements flow through that Defense
Coordinating Officer, back to North Com throught the Pentagon, and get approval and
then are able to deploy. National preparedness goal, you saw that was one of the documents that we looked just awhile ago. There’s also something called Presidential Policy Directive 8, National Preparedness. Those are the, you see
the five things there, prevention, protection,
mitigation, response, which is what we’re talking
about tonight, and recovery, which we’re also gonna talk
about tonight, data especially. So, that’s the National
Preparedness goal, go ahead. National Disaster Recovery Framework, here are some core principles. You can see it starts
at the very lowest level with individuals and families,
leadership, local control, pre disaster, and recovery planning, partnerships, inclusiveness,
public information. Hit it one more time. Unity of effort, unity of effort is a big deal
in the Army, or the Air Force. We call that chain of command. In the civilian world it’s more of a, there’s somebody that’s
in charge of each piece of this response and recovery. And that person sometimes, force of personality might
take over a little bit in these meetings, but for the most part everybody knows who’s in charge of what, and that’s what unity of effort is all about in this business. Timeliness and flexibility, obviously, and you the see the final two there. But that’s, in a very, I
mean I spend a semester talking about all the things that I just covered in eight minutes. – You’re good.
– Okay. – [Justin] Came in under
the 10 minute mark. – Alright, recovery Mission, there it is. Support communities in rebuilding. Again, individuals, civic
institutions, businesses, governmental organizations
can function on their own, return to normal life, that’s the goal, as quickly as possible
to get to that stage. – Thanks, Danny. – Before Professor McIntyre
talks I have to say, I wish it always operated as smooth, as Danny just made it sound. (audience laughing) It does not, and when it
gets to me as the lawyer, you’ll hear, but anyway, go ahead. – So, I’ll watch my, see if I can watch my time pretty close. Let me begin with some congratulations, credit where credit is due. We have a number folks in
the audience this evening that actually work
emergency management issues. Bobby Enyacitas is here, who is with the Office
of Emergency Management down in Harris County. Jason Moats is here with TEEX. Let me tell you, I’ve been
following this since 1997, and this is the smoothest
from an external view, the smoothest operation I have ever seen for a major problem like this. Now, that does not mean it was smooth. I talked to these guys off line. They will tell you, if somebody’s not there at the right time, if somebody’s out of food it’s a, that’s what they get
paid for to conscious, a constant crisis but the
progress that has been made in the last 15 years or so,
it’s just extraordinary. And that credit goes to the these folks in emergency management, who have been in the deep water, fighting the snakes, loading the boats, not to those of us who
are teaching policy. So, and I wanna invite them this evening, when we get to the Q and A, if you got something that
you wanna contribute, please raise your hand and do so, but we’re gonna focus on
the policy end of things. What I’m gonna talk about
is the issue of recovery, and I’m gonna start with who’s in charge. And, I’m going to tell
you what my students always struggle with,
especially my military students, and the answer to that question. Now, we’re looking at the recovery. This is the hard brutal long
term very expensive part. When there are lives on the
line, everybody pitches in. When it’s hot and sweaty
and it’s been three months, it’s a different deal to
get somebody off of work to come help you sort out your business. So, who is in charge? And the problem my students always have a hard time
believing is the answer is, nobody is in charge. Nobody’s, and the mayor may be
responsible for some things, the governor may be
responsible for some things The county judge may be
responsible for some … There is no one overall person in charge of all aspects of recovery. Now, at one point in our
national history there was. There was one person responsible for all government
activities at every level. His name was King George. We got rid of him. We no longer have that system, and because of that every, this responsibility is spread
across many jurisdictions right down to individuals
who are now responsible for figuring out their own
recovery in lots of ways. So, please keep that in mind. Let’s do go now to this slide, and I’m gonna stand up so I can see it. This is from The New York Times. It’s the best map I’ve been able to find of Houston as a whole. So, if you know Houston, we are off the map up here
in the north somewhere, Highway 299, way on, way on up here. 90 runs here and up six,
so we’re up here somewhere. This says the Addick’s
Reservoir, Barker Reservoir, and these lines here
converge on the city of, the center of Houston
which is right about here. And that, those red lines run over on, right over here to the
Houston ship channel, where they dump, where they dump out. This is Buffalo Bayou,
running right through here. This is Cypress Houston,
so if you go from Houston, down six to 290 run right through Cypress. And you can see where the creeks were and where the flooding was. Here is the point. Pink represent flooded
buildings within a flood zone. That’s where people
knew they had a problem, and bought insurance. The red dots represent where
it has not flooded before, and were not required to have insurance, and frequently it’s not even available. Most private companies don’t sell it. You may have, you probably have to buy it from the federal government, and as a result they
don’t sell it everywhere. And by the way, it’s $28
billion in the red right now, the federal flood program is. So, you can see the difference
between the pink dots, where people are likely to have insurance, and the red where they’re likely not to. So, look at these reservoirs,
and let’s see the next slide. Yeah, 40 percent of the building estimated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be flooded in the Harris County area is considered a minimal flood hazard. Next one, please sir. Some calculations, current
flooding represents the third 500 year flood in
Houston in the past three years. Next please. So, this sign you can’t see
it says Addick’s Reservoir. I showed you the location
of Addick’s down there if you don’t know the Houston area. So, see where the reservoir
is, see the reservoir? Yeah, there’s no reservoir. The Addick’s Reservoir is empty. In fact that spot right
there is a golf course. The water line, this was taken
two weeks after the storm, last Sunday. On the Sunday of the storm, the water line was above
that sign right there, in the area that is
normally completely dry. A huge area, completely, it’s
just a wetlands, of sorts. This is across the street from that, and that’s the water line
where water line was. Next one, please. This is a sort of barrier that’s
about eight, 10 feet high. That’s the limit of the
Barker Reservoir in the north. And the water was up over that, way back into the neighborhoods in here. This was on the northern
side right by Highway 10. This is the Texas Children’s Hospital. This is where a bunch of new
construction is going in. And see that circle right there? It says Addick’s Cullen Park. You can build your building
right next to the park. Well, the park is the reservoir, except it’s normally empty of water, except during these 500 year floods, which have been three times
in the last three years. So, you begin to get a feel
for the scope of the problem, and why we have a problem. ‘Cause Houston, all this area by the way, I was born and raised in Houston. I used to come visit up in Grimes County. We used to come up 290
which was a two-lane road. and the only lights on 290
were flashing yellow lights, and all this area was rice fields, because it’s flat and it’s
wet, and now it is all cement. And question is where the
water goes when it rains. Next please. Well, here’s where it goes. This is, remember the Addick’s sign was? If you turn 180 degrees
and you go one block, this is people’s lives,
and it goes on for a mile on both sides of the neighborhood. It’s everything in those houses,
gutted and in the street. Next slide. So, well let’s go back one,
something’s out of order here. Let’s go back and stay on
those others, those pictures. So, here’s the problem that they run into, just a quick problem of, understanding what I mean by recovery. So, if you had a $200,000
house right there, and you put $40,000 down, if you haven’t bought a house before, you may not understand this. You put $40,000 down, you begin paying, paying into the payments,
and you have a 30 year loan. The thing you pay off first is the loan. So if you’ve been paying for
10 years, you’ve actually paid a relatively small amount
of that money back. What you paid is the interest. If that house is flooded and you have, and you have no insurance, and the house is condemned
which frequently happens and has to be knocked down, not only have you lost all your goods, but there’s nothing to sell. You’re out the $40,000 and
you still owe the loan. The loan doesn’t go away. So, who do you pay, how
do you pay that loan? And then where do you live? This is just, this is sorta
scratching the surface of what we’re talking about
when we talk about recovery. Real quick, I only got
about four minutes left. Usually we talk about
critical infrastructure and disasters like that. That’s chemical plants, and
water, and lights, and so forth. Here we had a very unusual event, where most of that stayed on, and most of that was not a major problem, but that doesn’t mean the
users are in good shape. I took a student group down to Galveston after Hurricane Ike, and we took a look at what happened there, and the lights came back on, and the power went right
to the street lights, but the vendors in the
stores still could not turn on the lights and couldn’t use a charge card, and the reason is because, the power may come to the
green box at the corner, but that doesn’t mean that
your wiring has been inspected. So, you have to rip out the
walls, replace the wiring, and you have to have inspector. And you may bring an electrical company, electrical guys from Alabama
to fix the power line, but you can’t bring an
inspector from Alabama to look at Houston codes, so this business of recovery
is a long and painful effort where you have to look at
the individual details. Local jurisdictions, we don’t ever talk about
critical infrastructure in terms of local
jurisdictions but they’re a, it’s not just Houston or Harris County, and Addicks, everyone, Magnolia, all these little towns have
their own responsibilities for police, and fire, and water, and animal control, and schools, and all those things have to be rebuilt. And then question in all of this is who’s going to pay for that? And the money is going, where’s the money going to come from? For there is a question of cross jurisdictional coordination. During emergencies, the jurisdictions coordinate
pretty well together now, but now from here on out,
every jurisdiction on the map is in competition for resources. They are all in competition
for state money, and federal money, and
all kinds of grants. And so that makes it a
little tougher for them to coordinate as well as
they did when they were, when they were trying to
save people from the flood. Companies have business
continuity problems. If you are flooded out and you
didn’t have flood insurance, then how you serve your customer base, and get stood back up in
time to save your customers from going to somebody
else is a huge challenge. And there’s no playbook for most companies if they haven’t worked that ahead of time. And some companies did a very good job. A company my son works for is an oil, produces oil rigs. And they took their call
list from company wide. They called every employee and said, who has a problem with their house? And then they built teams from their people that build oil rigs and they gave them time on company time to go help their
employees and their house. That was a business continuity plan that really matters and really works. Most companies didn’t do that and most small businesses
that are flooded out, they’re gonna fail. They think insurance is the answer, and it’s not enough. So, let me jump forward, and then we’ll do Q and
A’s in just a second. Let me tell you the biggest single problem or question that’s gonna emerge is the question of who pays. Somebody’s gotta pay for all of this, and what’s the city of
Houston’s biggest problem? Their biggest problem is not
gonna be rebuilding this. Their biggest problem, I think is gonna be everywhere there’s a red
dot, that’s their tax base. If those homes are flooded
and those people are bankrupt and they don’t have a place to work, then how do they
contribute to the tax base for the city to recover? We’re gonna address some other areas where we get to the Q and A. I think that’s good enough
for this session right now, but I hope you get the point. Complexity, the coordination period or cooperation period is over, and now we’re facing
a very long year, two, three years of brutal effort for people who have lost everything, and we’re not sure exactly who’s gonna pay for making them whole. Sir. – Okay. Both these folks here could
have talked easily for an hour without notes, but we
all agreed to try to keep our comments to about 10 minutes, because we really wanted to
leave the rest of the time for your questions, of the
other 30 minutes or 25 minutes. I’m the lawyer here. I’m not a civil lawyer, actually national security law lawyer and international law, but I
know a few things about this, and now I’ll tell you what I do know, and we can go from there. It seems to me the essence of this program is where do we go from here? And as a lawyer, I see a
number of key developments, unfortunately one of which
would just make lawyers rich. Not me, I work for Texas A&M, but we’ll make another, a number rich. And the reason is of the
thousands of lawsuits we’re gonna have now. And, these lawsuits are gonna be against the Corps of Engineers
for those reservoirs. It’s gonna be against whoever operates those levees and built them. It’s gonna be whoever
maintains the Buffalo Bayou. And I just picked up from Danny’s comment, now it’s gonna be against
the Superfund sites and whoever controls them. All of these lawsuits come as a spinoff from Katrina lawsuits. The way it works basically, for years you could
not sue the government. The government was the king. You couldn’t sue the government. In the ’50s and ’60s we passed legislation called the Federal Torts
Claim Act, which was passed, supplemented by a Texas Torts Claims Acts, and also applies to Harris County as well. And they basically these acts says, well generally you can’t
sue the government, but you can sue the government
if they’re negligent. Well, these provisions, people went after the
government for negligence in some cases, but there was an exception
where the government was still had immunity. And it was called, if the government took an act it was quote unquote, a
discretionary function. So, what happened after Katrina? In 2004 to 2015, there
were thousands of lawsuits from people in New
Orleans who were flooded when the levees broke
north of New Orleans. And they sued the Corps of Engineers and every one of them lost. And the reason they lost
is because the courts said, it was a discretionary function as to how you build the levees, where you build the levees. And by the way another
normally discretionary function would be do you release water from these Addick’s
Reservoirs or not, okay? However, in 2015 in a
very novel legal theory, the Federal Court of Claims for the first time allowed a lawsuits by the Katrina victims on the basis that it was the destruction of the levees was a taking of property
without just compensation, and without due process. Brand new theory, sounds interesting. They won, they won. Well that, and I hate to use the term, but that opened the floodgates
for Katrina lawsuits, and it’s gonna open the floodgates for lawsuits on Harvey. Now, that gets to the key question, which you know, Professor
McIntyre was just referring to is you know, I keep wondering, who is gonna pay for these
people who are not insured? Well, these people who are not insured are gonna be going after
the federal government and state government. At least if you’re downwind or down water from those reservoirs. The others I don’t know. I keep wondering how are they gonna pay. I just don’t know, but there’s gonna be a lot of lawsuits to try to get that money from
those who were not insured. Alright, second area I wanna address from a legal standpoint. I was, I don’t know, thrilled,
maybe thrilled is the word. I just thought it was great
when Harvey came along and on the second day the City Manager or the Police Chief came out and says, if you can help us, come. I thought it was terrific. And, that unleashed all these people with everybody with a boat
in 50 miles come in to help. That was great. So different from every
other disaster we’ve had. Wouldn’t that have been
nice in New Orleans? We never had that, because
the general position of the government is always been, you dumb citizens, you just stay in place, and the government will
take care of everything. And then everything turns to crap and then everybody is crying and whines about the government, right? So, they asked for help. I thought that was terrific,
and they got the help, but as a lawyer I had, and I’m thinking could this be a new
standard for the future? But then as a lawyer, I had
to think, wait a minute. What happens if all these, what happens if these
civilians who are responding what if one of them gets hurt? What if they hurt somebody else? I remember watching some of these people picking up people in boats, and I immediately look
at the outboard motor, and I see that outboard motor churning while people are walking up to the boat, and I was going, oh my god. You know, somebody is gonna get cut, and it’s gonna be serious. What happens if he rushes
a volunteer to help and someone gets hurt? Well, in Texas we do have
a Good Samaritan law. And, it will protect
you if you’re negligent, but it will not protect you
if you’re blatantly negligent. Now you’re saying, what’s
blatant negligence? What’s negligence? That depends on what the jury says when they hear all the facts. So, on one hand I was like
really excited about this, but on the other hand,
we have to recognize their potential problems. Third and last area I want to talk about, before we open up for questions, hopefully a little more upbeat, but we need to look and examine the National Response Plan and National Incident Management System that they, the previous
speakers have referred to. It was established by
the Homeland Security. These were established by the Homeland Security Act of 2004. They did not work in Katrina. They haven’t been in place very long. They did not work with the oil spill. Part of the reason they did not work, is they hadn’t been in place very long, but part of the reason
they didn’t really work is people seem to expect that the federal government
was gonna do everything. You know, where’s George
Bush and the Army? You know, it was almost like George Bush was supposed to be out
there with a rowboat going, you know, rescuing people. And when they had the oil spill it was, they were on Barack Obama. It was like he was supposed
to be out there with a saw, sucking up oil, I mean a
straw sucking up the oil. I mean, it was silly. Everybody expected the federal government to do everything. Well, as the NRP and them say, and these gentlemen have explained, the way the system is
set up is local first, then city to state. Then, if the state is
overwhelmed, it’s state to state with these interstate compacts. It’s not the federal government. When you need resources, you then, if the president under the
Stafford Act says okay, I’ll declare an emergency in the area, a disaster area or an emergency, then you can go to FEMA and say FEMA, help me with resources
that you can bring in from around the country, but this is state coordinate, local, state, and state to state first. Yeah, you can send in the Coast Guard and they have been really help. We can’t send in the Army right away. Under the Title Ten Statutes, there’s only very few exceptions. One of them is when the government, the governor asks for the Army. What happened in Louisiana was, President Bush said to the governor, will you please ask me, and I
will send in the Army to help. The governor refused. Things turned to junk and they
all blamed President Bush. but the governor wouldn’t ask. Alright. After Katrina, we had
the Post Katrina Act. It did a couple really good things. One was under the Stafford Act. Now, the president can
declare an emergency even before the hurricane hits, and make resources
prepositioned and available, and we saw President Trump do that, and it worked to some, to a large extent. Two, this act strengthened FEMA. After Katrina they were saying, get rid of FEMA, they’re
a bunch of yokels. They don’t know what they’re doing. Fact is they strengthened
FEMA, better training, better people, better
organization, and it raised FEMA in the federal government bureaucracy. FEMA can even check in how, check with criminal records
of people going to shelters. They can have that checked out. They can do a national center for identification where people are, the National Integration Center. And, FEMA is charged
with trying to instruct and train people on this NRP and NIMS. Now, that raises the key question, I want to talk about that. The basic question I have always asked, after Katrina and after number
a number of other thing, is who is in charge. Danny, can you poke that slide? I’ve always said, who is in charge? Who really is in charge? And this is what I think is a problem with the National Incident
Management System. So we set this system up. And this, this is called the Unified
Coordination Group. And here, every agency that
has an interest is there. It doesn’t reflect that,
but like in the oil spill, or in Katrina, and now in Harvey, ou have Environmental
Protection, EPA is there. DOD is there, okay? State, National Guard is there, state law enforcement is there, federal law enforcement is there, Health and Human Services
there, you name it. You name an agency that
might have an interest, and they’re there. Now, who’s the leader? This is called, actually
when Danny did this chart, he didn’t, he knocked
out the very top line. The top line says Unified Command. And those of you that have
military training means, know that unified
command means no command. (mumbling) All these people, all
these people have a voice. So, who is in charge? This is the problem we have with NIMS. Now, let me tell you how
it might have played out here in Harvey. And what I’m thinking
that we have to look at down the road, is exactly how these decisions played out, and how NIMS worked, but this is why I’ve
always raised the question about unified command. Alright, in Harvey, we had a question. Should we release the water
from the reservoirs, right? Now think about yourself. I don’t know what happened. It’ll be interesting to see. You’re in this unified coordination group. The Corps of Engineers says guys, I’ve gotta release the water
or the dams are gonna break and everybody gets
flooded by rushing water, but the mayor might
have said I don’t know, but you can imagine
situation the mayor says, if you release the water you
gonna flood all the people in Addicks that haven’t been flooded. That’s where those pictures were taken. So, who are we? Corps of Engineers or the mayor. Well, we got this
beautiful unified command. Who makes the decision, right? What about an evacuations? What if the governor says, I think you guys need
to evacuate, evacuate. Alright, I’m the governor’s
office, I’m part of this. And what if the mayor says
no, I’m not evacuating, because it will be worse. Who wins, who makes the decision? This is one of the things
I wanna see going forward. I wanna see an examination
of NIMS and NRP, and see how it worked, because when you listen to Danny, and everything was just
so wonderful and fluid, (audience laughing) and that’s the way it’s supposed to work, but you know and I know
that someplace, someplace, there must have been debate about evacuation or not evacuation. Right, release the water from those dams or not release the water. And you can picture any one
of a hundred situations. And, when they had the oil spill, Fish and Wildlife was out there saying, don’t put this in the
water to kill the oil. Then Coast Guard would come to say no, put that in the water to destroy the oil. And then EPA would say, no don’t do that. And, I remember the Governor
of Mississippi came out, what is this Unified Command? I got three different things here. What do we do? So, it’ll be interesting to
see, and we need to examine it. Okay, so now I’ll hear your questions. – So, what we’d like to do
is if you have a question, just like you’re in class, raise your hand and I’ll call on you. You can either stand
and tell us your name, and ask a question and
direct it to the panel, or any individual if you like. Saw a quick hand in the very back. – [Man] So, the (muffled off
mic), a lot of people (muffled) in the areas that may be flooded. You know, there’s so
much tragedy about this, that kind of framework where it allowed people to build in areas
where they shouldn’t build. You know, and people that could
afford to build (mumbling) places on the coastal areas, you know, allowed them to get
some kind of insurance. Now that we’ve moved forward, how times did the federal government pay for flood insurance for these places that have been repeatedly flooded out? How would they unwind
this program basically? – Well, there actually is a limit on the number of times they’ll pay out. So, if you’ve been flooded, and I forgot whether it’s
two times or three times, but, I’ve talked to
people in the last week who had to sell and move
from previous storms, because they flooded a couple
times before and can’t. Jason, you had Bob, is that correct? But, having said that,
there are several pieces to the National Flood Insurance Program. And what I recommend is go home and take a look at a Frontline PBS program about Hurricane Sandy and the flood insurance
program in New Jersey. It is an eye opener about the
complications of this program. The idea is we want to
promote the economy, so sure we could say nobody
build on the coastline, because you know suck it
up when there’s a storm. Nobody’s, USA’s not gonna ensure there, no private insurance, so do without. Well, that doesn’t feed the state economy. That doesn’t feed the Galveston economy. So, there is a vested interest in saying, let’s have some kind of
program to support the people. But, an insurance program, guess what? You have to pay for the insurance. Well, Congress over the years has put a damper on how much
they require people to pay, so the payments into the
flood insurance program, if you have flood insurance, don’t cover the actual claims
when a flood take place. This is why it’s $28 billion in the red, before these two storms started. So now, we have a question. It bumps up every time
against this debt limit. Are we gonna renew the program? Are we gonna expand the program? And what about the
people who weren’t in it? Remember, a lot of these
people were not in flood areas. Now, the idea about a national
flood insurance program, among other things, if you want a federally backed mortgage, and you’re in a floodplain,
you have to buy the insurance. But what about those
folks across the street from the Addick’s Dam? I mean there hasn’t been
water there since I was a kid, and that was a long time ago. There’s been no water there, and all the sudden it’s nine
feet deep in their house. Whose fault was that? So, who’s gonna make them whole? So the answer is, there are limits to how many times you can be
flooded out and get paid off. But that’s not the big question. The big question is how about
people who are flooded out, didn’t even have the chance
to buy flood insurance, now what?
– Thank you. – [Man] So, we have these great emergency management professors, and I’m gonna ask a
question about education. So, one of the things
that people talk about is the need to open up public schools soon after an emergency situation. Can you speak about that a little bit and why that is important, especially after natural disasters? – So why it’s important to
open up public schools– – [Man] To get them back open. – Oh, to get them back open. Well, I mean, you know, providing education for the youngsters, for the population, that’s one of the principal reasons for government, you know? That’s like when I’m having a court, having a law enforcement court, having a court that’s
in session, you know? When you start having things
like that that aren’t working, society stops to some extent. So that’s why I think it’s
so important to get things, you know, the other part of it is, you know, when your kid gets to the point where it’s going to school,
she or he is going to school. I don’t guess I should say it. (laughing) Well when that kid is in
school for six hours a day, what can the parents do? The parents can be at work. If that kid is not in school, somebody’s got to take care of that child. So I think that’s kind of an
ancillary part of it also. – Jason.
– Jason. – [Jason] Danny, there’s
another fortune to this too, and then push came out probably
starting in the mid-80s, and his progressive (mumbles), which is there the
psychological aspect of it. You getting kids back into the
routine that they’re used to, so you can get them back in school. You’re getting them in there, they can get free meals, and often, they provide three meals throughout all of Harris County. – [Man] City of Houston, for the rest of the Harris providing– – [Jason] So they’re
at least getting meals and stuff like that, and so even if the parents
aren’t going back to work, they’re able to work on their house and take care of things, and the kids have some sense routine. It’s a psychological matter
as much as it is for them. – And that’s the last point over there, for the principles of recovery. – The other issue to think about too, is the strain of hits on
neighboring districts right? So what a lot of people do is then go enroll their children in other districts and then that puts additional
strain on the resources in those communities, as well. That again highlights the
importance of doing this quickly. – So one quick, do you wanna
comment on that, or did you have a question?
– I got a question. – One quick point about
that, just for clarification, when you move from recovery to response, I’m sorry when you move
from a response to recovery, largely, the emergency
manager’s job is done. The emergency manager handles emergencies. The recovery, this long term two year, three year process rebuilding, that is not handled by the Office of the Emergency Manager. Now, he is obviously engaged
in all of this, right? You’re gonna be busy boy for
the next couple of years, but the emergency managers are, you know, fire, police, they are not charged with this recovery business,
this rebuilding part. And every storm is different in who’s gonna be charged with that. There is no set organization. There is no set model. It’s gonna be different Harris County than it’s gonna be in Houston. It’s gonna be different there than it’s gonna be in Addick’s, and so this is one of the issues that just really is locally driven. The last point on schools is there are so many threats to this. For example, in most places, you’ve got a federal dollar for every hour that a student puts their behind at the seat, right? If the students, if
the school is not open, and the students are not there, then you don’t get those federal dollars. If you don’t get those federal dollars, then the teachers go without pay. So there is an interruption
to the entire cycle. So the schools, the grocery
stores, the fire, the police, flushing toilets, water that
comes that you can drink, there’s like this half a
dozen things you’ve gotta have to begin reinhabiting a location. Fortunately, most of Houston is going to be okay in that regard. It’s these flooded areas that you’ve got this
serious, serious problem. – [Man] Quick question,
out of the flood maps that David used, how do
you think that will change in the next few (mumbles)? Right now, basically, the
formula is 500 year floods, one percent chance of it happening. There’s not a real
science behind the way– (speaker drowned out by laughter) Do you think this will be an eye opener? – That’s a good question. I would think, yeah. I would think they would go back in light of the history that’s happened. I mean how did they know, when they take 500 year floodplain, I don’t think anybody was
keeping records there back then. Yeah.
– They’re gonna have to reevaluate, anyway.
– Yeah. – So I was at Mount Pinatubo when we had to close Clark Air Base. I was there with a
volcanologist and a hydrologist, and we looked at why we
were closing the air base, and they laid out this map, and he said look here,
here’s the pyroclastic flows, and you can see where
this elevation line is. Well, that’s flow of 1642,
and here’s flow of 1735, and here is the flow of 1846. And you know why we have
a big flat area here for you to build a runway,
Clark Air Force Base? ‘Cause there was a pyroclastic flow, and it’s gonna happen again sometime. So you can get those elevations. The problem in a place like
Houston is not the elevation. The problem is the cement. So that FEMA’s map may be accurate, before the last 10 years of construction. Now what? And I don’t think anybody knows. – [Man] Piggybacking off of that, there was a lot more construction. Houston has been growing a lot lately and there was a big strain
on how we leave already. There was already a
strain in the first place, so now, we have people who are trying to move into the area anyway. So how are they declining
to protect these area now when all this construction
is supposed to come on, and the rebuilding
that’s supposed to go on? – [Man] That is under the table. That is under the table. – There is a big fight about this. You guys don’t live in Houston, so you don’t listen to
the radio down here. But if you listen to the
NPR station down there, they have something on this about once a week before the storm. There is a big fight about West Houston, and there are areas that
are trying to be reserved for wetlands and to
absorb water and so forth. This is gonna get even worse because it’s a clash of legal issues. Property owner owns the property. You telling me he can’t sell, because you think ats
some point in the future there might be a flood,
so you’re gonna … Now, we get to the illegal taking, and that, that’s what he’s talking about, the illegal taking. Way back, my family has owned this, this area was a rice farm. We owned this for 150 years, and now we can make some
money by selling it. Well, to expand the children’s hospital. You’re telling me no,
’cause you are worried about people four miles from
here on on Buffalo Bayou when I pour the cement for
the for the parking lot. So, we got a very
interesting legal challenge. Right?
– Yeah, that’s a fascinating. I was just thinking about your question. Yeah, as a city planner,
I guess I would want some of those rice fields wide open land to absorb flooding or whatever. And as he’s saying, what
about if you own that land, you’re gonna make a million dollars selling it for a housing development. – [Danny] Remember, the
land is not in Houston. So Katy, what’s the tax base? Addick’s wants the tax base. Cypress wants the tax base. It’s Houston that wants them not to build so the water will be absorbed. That, you get the problem we have? So now, welcome to the
policy end of our world. It’s why policy is so complicated. – [Woman] So I’ve been
on a couple of trips with humanitarian efforts abroad, and within the United States. And, listening to your
presentation and the map, I really appreciate it, because you can observe
where the issues really are, and then analyze, but it seems that you
don’t have communication or organization to do anything about it, but you’re in a very nice spot right now, because the spotlight is on Houston, Everyone’s heart is going out to Houston. (mumbling) So, with all this data and
effort going towards Houston, what’s really being used for that? Where is it going? Is it being spread evenly? Is it focused on, you know, high areas that taxpayers care about? Like what–
– That’s a, you know, that’s, I was thinking about the football player for the Texans. Yeah, you know he’s, how
much has he raised now? (audience murmuring) How does that get to where it needs to go? Who, is he gonna do that, you know, is he gonna set up an
agency to do that himself? Is he gonna do it through the Red Cross? Or Samaritan’s Purse, or what? I don’t know, it’s a good question. I mean, there’s a whole lot. You know Willie Nelson I think is giving a concert as we speak. Where is all that money? How is it gonna get to where it belongs? I don’t know the answer to the question. – This is such a weird, I mean to Bob, Bob and Jason were talking before, professional emergency managers in TEEX. By the way, I didn’t
mention TEEX to begin with. They are literally a world leader in the actual execution of this. So, let me make sure they credit here. I’m just a policy guy. But, this is a, this
is such a weird storm. In New Orleans, the people who got the worst
of it where the poorest, ’cause that’s where the
where the levee broke. Here, if you know Houston
the people that were flooded, who lives on the Bayou? That’s where the money is. That’s where the upper
middle class wants to live, ’cause it’s parks, and it’s golf courses, and it’s country clubs,
because sometimes it floods. And so, now what you,
again what you have is that you’ve threatened the tax base. So, it’s gonna be very interesting to see how the money is allocated among, I mean, you live in a half
a million dollar home, and it’s gone, you got a problem. And you have problems with the tax base, ’cause you were paying
a lot of the sales tax. And so, I don’t know how
we’re gonna work it out, but you put your finger on a big question. – Yeah, I’d like to
follow up on her question, because to put it in, I
guess more concrete terms, I get your question is, and if one of y’all can
answer me, I’d appreciate it. You get federal government allocates $30 billion for Houston relief. Who gets the $30 billion check, and who decides where the money is going? I think that’s where I
interpreted your question. – [Man] Well, that’s an easier question. – Okay, so what the answer is? – [Man] That number is
from the government, because we have formulae, formulations for public assistance and individual assistance. It’s all of these foundations
that have raised to date, somewhere in the
neighborhood of $250 million. That’s a quarter of a billion dollars. So, if you go and try and get on to see how do you apply for funds
from the JJ Watt Foundation, or how do you apply for
funds from Rebuild Texas, which is with the Dell
Foundation has put up, or how do you do all this other stuff that miraculously it’s, and
this is the cynic in me, but miraculously it’s absent. When you go on JJ Watt Foundation page, it’s about rebuilding high
school football teams, or grade school and high
school football team. There’s nothing posted on there about how the money is
gonna be distributed. Now, in all fairness what
I think they’re doing, is they’re going to people
like Ron and saying okay look, how do we do this legally,
so we don’t get sued? There’s a lot of that going on right now, because you’re talking
about a lot of money. But, if you look at
Macondo, the BP incident, look at how long it took
them to distribute the funds to the people that were there. We’re talking months
and in some cases years. So, you have to keep that in mind. – And the person who makes that decision is what the governor,
the Bexar County Judge? Who makes that decision? – [Man] With Macondo it was
the individual assistance and public assistance is
spelled out in the Stafford Act. So, there wasn’t a lot of
private funds that were set out. They were set, what
private funds I know about, they we’re done by foundations
with only their own way, and then also Congress
said throw some of the law that said how things will be distributed. – [Man] So, a couple of
words I’ll usually start, is one is unity of effort,
and the other is King George. Moving forward to
recovery in the last week when the governor named the chancellor to be the head of recovery. My question is, is there already an
organization underneath him that he’s going to fall
in and be in charge of? And the second one is, what’s his relationship to that
last diagram that you put up to control all of that federal stuff? – It’s an entirely different deal. It’s an entirely different deal. So, this is my pitch, if I
had legislators in the office, if I could speak to
Congress on this issue. This would be my pitch. We really have had, a
lot of credit needs to go to the last two
administrations, over 16 years. And what began from this big smoking mess, now it’s not what you think I mean. This big smoking mess from
the Twin Towers to today, a lot of credit needs to go to the way FEMA has been reorganized. To the way places like
TEEX have been funded, to what’s happened at the local level, but we haven’t seen that big change in the issue of recovery. So, if you are a emergency manager of any town in the United
States, and you want to know how to build an emergency
operation center, there’s a FEMA publication that tells you what
what ought to be in one. CPG 101, will tell you what goes into it. It’ll tell you how to
put together an order, what annexes should be in there, what goes into the plan. If you need to do risk management, CPG 201 tells you how to fill out a risk, what goes into every block. There is nothing like that for recovery. There’s not even a basic organization of what towns and cities ought to have. There’s no checklist to
say, is this operating, is this operating, is this operating? There is nothing like that, because nobody is in charge of that. FEMA is not in charge of recoveries. They pay bills, they’re not in charge. This is from the bottom up. And, now I’m really
about to get in trouble. If anybody has the blame for the fact that that hasn’t
happened, it’s academia. We haven’t studied that. We’ve not taking that on
as a public policy issue. We have really not investigated that. And these are emergency managers here. They don’t have the time,
they’re never gonna look at that. And the state highway
patrol, bunker in Austin, they’re never gonna look at that. FEMA is not their job. So, somebody’s gotta take that aboard and lay out the diagram, so next time we have
one of these they say, okay, (mumbles) gotta do
that, yes, yes, gotta do that. There’s nothing like that available. – [Man] I just wanna add
to what you’re saying, because that diagram up there, as soon as we are fully
engaged in recovery, there’s a, we’re gonna have another point that diagram is not longer.
– All that’s gone. – [Man] It’s no longer relevant. So, it’s really, the point you
bring up is very important. You have the disaster research center. University of Rhode Island, and all these other places
that have looked at this, and we still don’t have something
we can lay our hands on. – And you know what the best news is? Nobody in this flood was radioactive. I’m telling you buddy, this
is coming, this is coming. And everybody’s gonna look at each other, and I thought we had 20, 30
years to get ready for this. So, boats not showing up,
and trucks not showing up, and hospitals not taking people, when you contaminate
the emergency room, so. – One here, and two, those will
be the last two I’m afraid. Right there, bud. – [Man] At what point do
we start resilient design for the next time this is gonna happen? Where do we incorporate that, and then who leads the charge of that? Is that city of Houston,
is it Harris County, is it the Corps of
Engineers, all of the above? It’s gonna happen again, and the next one could be a direct hit. So, how do we mitigate
what happened this time? – Okay, can I just amend that question? And then see how they can answer? Going from what he just, you said how we prepare for this. Alright, let’s say in
addition to the hurricane, he’s referring to the terrorist attack. What about if the ship
comes into Houston Channel, and blows up with a high explosive charge, and it’s got rad-, it’s a dirty bomb. It’s got radiation all over it, okay? So, now let’s ask him who’s
preparing for both of them. I’ll throw it on them. By the way, when he says
academia is to blame, I saw this young lady nod her head. So, I wanted to let him know. Alright, go ahead. – So, let me give me academia credit. (audience laughing) The Architecture Department at Texas A&M, has done a very good job of this. They have a group of people
that have written on this. They’re nationally known,
they’ve published on this, and they are, they are
looking at resiliency, and community, and so forth, but the problem is, and
not to get too arcane, but you’re all students, the problem is, this is an interdisciplinary study. And at a university
there’s no Daddy Rabbit for interdisciplinary stuff. And so that’s our funding, that’s been our problem
for the last 20 years in the field Homeland Security. There’s no Daddy Rabbit for this study. – Question?
– Yeah, comment, question. First, I’ll say it another way. I think there are a lot of
opportunities for academia to contribute to it, and ’cause there is a
need for evidence base going forward for recovery. It’s been (mumbles) after
Katrina, (mumbles) recovery. It’s our problem, and originally we were
hoping that the whole medical system in New
Orleans could be recrafted to what’s needed for modern day medicine. Instead, I think political
pressure locally, rebuilt the old system. Maybe we have an opportunity
now in rebuilding Houston. To get back to the resilient question. I think the challenges
going to be equally hard and political pressures, and we’ll probably rebuild the old system, but I want your thoughts
about that in a second. But, go back to the recovery
and the academic (mumbles). I hope the evidence,
and we don’t get forced into a solution is a
Federal only solution. Some things are best done
at the community-level and you know, that’s
where I think academia could really help a lot and hopefully the evidence
would come to that, because it’s amazing
today, given our response, how the public is almost demanding and our politicians at the
highest level are demanding this federal solution,
but it’s a local problem. – You know, I think education
is part of the deal. We, the citizens, we
all need to understand that the way the country runs, the federal government
doesn’t do everything, and that we need to keep preaching that over and over again. All disasters are local. The federal government says
that in their document. I think the National
Disaster Recovery framework, that’s the beginning of, probably the beginning of the effort of the federal government
to try to provide some doctrine or some principles with which local and state
government can start to talk, start to work recovery
like Dave’s talking about. So and that’s, that document only came out in 2011, you know? So it’s still floating around out there and it’s general principles is what it is, but it’s a beginning. But there, yeah, there’s
definitely a lot of work to do. – So let me take the opportunity as a representative of a policy school to sell policy as an important issue okay? So a policy decision, a policy decision was made shortly after 9/11 that
determines why we can’t do, in academia, your very
good clear recommendation, and the policy decision
was that we would create centers of excellence within
the academic community. They would be directed and funded out of the director of
Science and Technology within the Department
of Homeland Security, and all of the money for issues would go to that particular center. So what that did was mean if you’re one of the 10 schools that was
part of the Start Center out of the University of Maryland, then you can get a grant
to do terrorism studies. Every other school in America is frozen out of federal money. That’s what it means. And so, somewhere there is a school that’s going to get that, there’s a center that’s
controlling the research money that’s available from
the federal government on these issues, but it’s not us. And so to ask an academic
to take his his or her life and their possibly for tenure, and focus it on a research issue where they can’t get grant money because of a policy decision
that was made 10 years ago is a serious issue. So you folks need to study policy issues and advise legislators
better when you graduate. – [Justin] Alright, thank
you so much for you joining, giving our panelists round of applause. (applause)

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