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The Committee on Government Reform will hold an oversight hearing on "Emerging from Isabel: A Review of FEMS's Preparation for and Response to Affected Areas in the Hampton Roads Region," at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 10, at the Old Dominion University Webb Center.

Rep. Ed Schrock will hear from the following witnesses during the session, which is open to the public:

Panel One
Eric Tolbert, Director of the Response Division, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Panel Two
The Honorable John Marshall, Secretary of Public Safety, Commonwealth of Virginia

Panel Three
Gregory Cade, Fire Chief/Emergency Management Coordinator
City of Virginia Beach

Ron Keys, Director of Emergency Services
City of Norfolk

Curt Shaffer, Director, Plans, Analysis, and Emergency Operations Branch,
Police Division, City of Hampton

Hurricane Isabel was one of the worst storms in history to hit the Hampton Roads area. It inflicted death, injury and severe damage on the entire region. At least eight deaths in the region are attributed to the storm. Transportation was dramatically affected, particularly with the flooding and closure of the Midtown and Downtown Tunnels. The Midtown Tunnel is a vital artery to the region and is still closed and not scheduled to be reopened until October 18. This is wreaking havoc with business and personal travel in the entire area. Countless roads were rendered impassable by downed trees, power lines and debris. Houses and businesses were destroyed. Virtually the entire area lost power during the storm. Economic losses were equally severe. Schools and businesses were shut down for days. Businesses were looted and many people in the region were left to fend for themselves.

The Government Reform Committee has a vital interest in the government's response to the damage caused by Hurricane Isabel to the Hampton Roads region. It is critical that the federal, state and local governments plan and act in a coordinated, efficient manner, not only in response to future natural disasters, but also to potential terrorist acts. The federal government, Commonwealth of Virginia and local jurisdictions have taken a number of actions to improve coordination of emergency preparedness efforts. Since the private sector owns most of the critical infrastructure in the Hampton Roads region and across the country, it is important for the private and public sector to work closely to protect the region's infrastructure.

The hurricane and our response to it mark an important opportunity to reassess this region's readiness and assure that plans are workable and will meet the needs of all those involved.

This article was posted on: October 10, 2003

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