|February 15, 2006|
WASHINGTON, D.C.- Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and the ten other Members of the House Select Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina released the committee's final report today.
The report is a result of an exhaustive investigation that began last fall conducted by the Select Committee in the weeks after Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The report, more than 500 pages long, details what went right and what went wrong with the local, state and federal preparations for and response to Hurricane Katrina. The purpose of the report is not to assign individual blame, but to identify lessons learned to ensure our government can fulfill its commitment protect and serve the American people.
"I was honored that Speaker Hastert asked me to sit on the Select Committee to review the response to Hurricane Katrina at all levels of government," said Congresswoman Granger. "With Chairman Davis' leadership, we conducted an extensive investigation and took an honest assessment of where the system failed -- at what levels and at what points. I believe this report provides the foundation for Congress and the Administration to make the necessary changes to our system so this doesn't happen again. Americans must be able to depend on the government's response, at all levels, to any major disaster."
The report identifies numerous failures that include:
- Late and ineffective execution of the National Response Plan
- An under-trained and under-staffed FEMA who was overwhelmed by the event
- The Department of Homeland Security acted too slowly in many instances
- Lessons were not learned and implemented from previous hurricane exercises
- Late and incomplete mandatory evacuations in New Orleans
- A complete breakdown in communications
- Inadequate emergency shelter and housing plans
The report does identify some positive actions including the work done by the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center. Their forecasts were incredibly accurate and detailed, providing decision makers the best information possible leading up to landfall. Additionally, the Coast Guard's heroic search and rescue efforts are noted in the report.
"It is clear the system was overwhelmed. This report should be the beginning of serious action by this Congress and Administration to fix these systematic problems. I plan to beginning working with my colleagues immediately to make whatever changes are required for our emergency response system to work the way it is supposed to for the American people," said Granger. "We cannot afford any delay as the 2006 hurricane season is approaching within a matter of months."
Before coming to Congress, Granger served as mayor of Fort Worth for five years. As mayor, Granger led the City Council in setting policy that enabled the city's professional staff to create effective emergency management systems. Within the emergency management field, the city of Fort Worth is considered to have one of the best emergency response systems in the country. Fort Worth has been tested in several disasters, including a rampage by a gunman in 1999 that killed seven people and injured seven others and by a tornado that struck six months later in downtown Fort Worth. The tornado caused extensive damage and forced city officials to shut down parts of downtown for weeks.
Granger serves on the Appropriations Committee and the powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. She also serves as a Majority Whip. Granger is the first and only female Republican to serve in the Texas House delegation. Granger represents the 12th District of Texas and is currently serving in her fifth term in Congress.