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Congress Holds Hearing on Wildfires

Are FEMA’s assistance programs adequate?

The last few years of wildfires in the west have been huge — with like-sized impacts. The House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management held a hearing on the matter on Oct. 26.

The subject was “Are FEMA’s Assistance Programs Adequately Designed to Assist Communities Before During, and After Wildfire?”

Andrew Phelps, director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, gave a testimony at that hearing. You can find it approximately 13 minutes in — the entire hearing lasts two hours.

Take a look the huge size of the hearing room that is virtually empty, due to little interest and/or COVID-19. I’m thinking little interest is more the culprit — for the moment.

While wildfires are not the “burning topic” of the moment, they are a significant hazard that only continues to grow.

I noted in Andrew’s testimony that he called out how mitigation funding cannot be used on federal lands. That is like Port Security Grant funding not benefiting the Coast Guard. Someone was well-meaning in making those rules, but they can get in the way of progress and participation.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.
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