Statements and Speeches

Hearing Statement: "Hurricane Sandy: Response and Recovery - - Progress and Challenges"


Dec 05 2012

WASHINGTON –Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) testified at the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing, "Hurricane Sandy: Response and Recovery - - Progress and Challenges." For more information or to view a webcast of the hearing, click here.

A copy of his statement, as prepared for delivery, is below:

"Madame Chair, Ranking Member Coats, good morning and thank you so much for having this very important hearing today and inviting Senators from outside of the Committee to speak. Along with Senator Chris Coons, Congressman John Carney, and Governor Jack Markell, I have closely monitored the situation in Delaware in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

"We've heard loud and clear from local officials and from stakeholders like small businesses in our coastal towns, and they have urged us to address the immediate needs of our communities.  I urge this Committee to do all it can to help the states hit by Sandy not only come back stronger, but to better protect ourselves from other storms in the future.

"Though Delaware did not experience the level of devastation that occurred in neighboring states to our north, we suffered widespread flooding, including severe damage to many homes and businesses. Our beaches, which provide a vital buffer between the ocean and our communities, have been badly depleted, leaving us vulnerable to flooding and damage even from small storms and routine high tides. The roads and bridges that serve as arteries for commerce have been damaged or washed out in many parts of our state and will need to be repaired or replaced. We've also experienced widespread damage to stormwater systems, dikes, and dams throughout our state. 

"Governor Markell continues to work with local officials and Federal agencies to determine the full extent of Sandy's damage. But preliminary assessments show that Delaware will need between $7.5 and $9 million in reimbursements from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for preparation, response, cleanup, and repairs. Federal agencies in Delaware such as the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers are still performing their own assessments of the facilities they oversee, but early estimates tell us they will require tens of millions more to perform necessary repairs. These may seem like small numbers compared to harder hit states, but given an already-strained state budget, Delaware will need assistance through FEMA and other agencies to fill funding gaps. 

"However, if an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and I believe that it is, then we must also do what we can to mitigate the effects of future storms like Hurricane Sandy. This is especially important as climate change drives the sea level to rise and increases the severity and frequency of coastal storms. For example, over the years, the Army Corps of Engineers has built a series of storm protection projects in Delaware, funded by both state and federal dollars.

"Thanks in no small part to these efforts, our robust beaches and strong dune systems performed exceptionally well during the worst of Sandy, likely sparing us billions of dollars in damage and saving homes, businesses and livelihoods along our Atlantic Ocean shoreline. In Delaware, a relatively small investment for prevention in the tens of millions has helped to protect more than 17,000 homes in our coastal communities, with a value of over $7 billion.

"Investing in protection clearly pays off, and we must find ways to support and, if possible, expand this type of cost-effective prevention to secure lives and property for years to come. In fact, Madame Chair, we need to look no further than your own home state of Louisiana for a model of how to invest in prevention and strengthen coastal management efforts to better weather these increasingly devastating storms. Nearly all of our colleagues have been in a situation where our home states needed the support of the rest of our nation to help recover from a devastating natural disaster. 

"One of the great strengths of America is that we all pitch in to help each other in our times of need. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I welcome the outpouring of support that has come from across the country.  On behalf of all Delawareans, let me express our heartfelt appreciation for the willingness of our colleagues to come to our aid, much as we have come to the aid of our sister states who have been the victims of hurricanes, floods, droughts, and fires over the years. 

"Members of the Committee, those of us in Delaware look forward to working with all of you and with the Obama Administration to enable us not only to recover and rebuild, but to better protect ourselves from the ravages of future storms likely to come our way. To you and our other colleagues here today, let me thank you for inviting us to testify and for taking our testimony to heart."