America's Natural Disaster Preparedness: Are Federal Investments Paying Off?

May 3, 2011

253 Russell Senate Office Building

Tornado DamageWASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced a hearing to review America’s natural disaster preparedness and response plans.

“Americans watched with great sadness the devastation wrought by the earthquakes and resulting tsunami in Japan, and with growing alarm the ongoing radiation hazards posed by the damaged nuclear reactors,” Chairman Rockefeller said. “Many have rightly questioned our own national preparedness for a similar natural disaster. Meanwhile in the news just this last week, thousands of firefighters in Texas have battled challenging and deadly wildfires, tornadoes touched down in several central and Midwestern states, and the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states have struggled with heavier than usual seasonal flooding.”

“We need to prepare ourselves for how the government can protect people, both here and elsewhere. Smart investments in our observational and warning systems, disaster preparedness, and response plans will pay dividends for years to come. We must give the agencies responsible for responding to potential disasters the resources and tools they need to protect American lives and our livelihoods.”

The Senate Commerce Committee has unique jurisdiction over U.S. government agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Coast Guard, whose programs aid in natural disaster research, preparedness, detection, and response. The hearing will address needed improvements to our national natural disaster preparedness and response plans as well as investigate how Congress can better serve these agencies’ needs to ultimately protect American lives. In this way, Congress can help ensure that the current response is an appropriate one and that we are doing everything possible to prepare for the next natural disaster.

Photo is of damage caused by tornado. Credit: NOAA


Majority Statement

  • Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV

    U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Witness Panel 1

  • Dr. William H. Hooke

    Senior Policy Fellow and Director
    American Meteorological Society
    Hooke Testimony (26.34 KB)
  • Mr. Bob Ryan

    Senior Meteorologist
    Ryan Testimony (76.40 KB)
  • Dr. Anne S. Kiremidjian

    Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
    on behalf of the American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Dr. Clint N. Dawson P.E.

    Professor, Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences
    University of Texas at Austin
    Dawson Testimony (134.48 KB)