Jun 07 2006

CJS HEARING ON OVERVIEW OF THE 2006 HURRICANE SEASON

U.S. Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), Chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee (CJS), today held a hearing of the Subcommittee to overview the 2006 Hurricane Season.

The following is Chairman Shelby’s opening statement, as prepared:

“Good morning. I want to welcome you to today’s hearing to discuss the upcoming hurricane season. This is an important topic and one that will get considerable attention in the months ahead as we reflect on the devastating 2005 hurricane season.”

“We are pleased to have with us today the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., who is joining us to testify on the 2006 hurricane season. He is joined by Dr. Louis W. Uccellini, the Director of the National Weather Service, National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). Thank you both for appearing before the Committee. I would like to extend my appreciation to Dr. Uccellini, who is making a last minute appearance today as Max Mayfield was unable to join us.”

“I would like to begin today by commending NOAA for its work surrounding last year’s hurricanes. Predictions for Hurricane Katrina were especially well prepared, and undoubtedly saved countless lives. The work that goes into forecasting these storms should not be taken for granted. Congress recognizes the extraordinary effort and critical expertise NOAA provides the nation.”

“Emergency coordination after the storm is critical to helping our coastal communities. When it came to post-hurricane support, NOAA was one of the federal agencies that provided quick, competent response - on the water, in the air, and on the ground.”

“The Office of Coast Survey mapped the ports for the purpose of safe navigation so they could reopen quickly. NOAA’s Cessna Citation aircraft flew two to three missions each day, stopping only to re-fuel, to provide aerial photography of the affected areas. The National Weather Service provided emergency responders with real-time weather updates directly from the local weather offices to those in the field.”

“The Office of Response and Restoration continues to help coordinate and mitigate marine debris removal. These services directly helped local and state emergency responders immediately following the hurricanes.”

“As we enter the 2006 hurricane season, the Committee will be looking for you to use the lessons learned from last year to make good decisions this year. We are very interested in hearing about the communication and coordination shortfalls you identified during your post-hurricane evaluations last year, how you have prepared to overcome those challenges this year, and what additional measures need to be taken to address any future challenges that NOAA recognizes may be problematic. Only by generating a systematic and clear list of your needs, can Congress better serve you.”

“Gentlemen, we look forward to your testimony today. Admiral Lautenbacher, your written testimony will be included as a part of the record and we hope that you will summarize your statement for the Committee following opening statements from the Committee members.”

“I would now like to recognize the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Senator Mikulski, for her opening comments.”