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Webster Statement from Hearing on FEMA’s Wildfire Assistance Efforts

Opening remarks, as prepared, of Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Ranking Member Daniel Webster (R-FL) from today’s hearing entitled, “Are FEMA’s Assistance Programs Adequately Designed to Assist Communities Before, During, and After Wildfire?”:

Thank you, Chair Titus, and thank you to our witnesses joining us today.

An all-hazards approach to disasters is critical to ensuring preparedness and clear direction in responding to all disasters.

However, each type of disaster is different and has its own unique challenges.

Wildfires are no different.

Unfortunately, wildfires have devastated communities across many States in recent years.

There have been 114 fire management assistance declarations in 2020 and 2021 and 8 major disaster declarations for wildfires.

It is critical for us to ensure FEMA – the federal government’s lead agency on disasters – is positioned to assist those communities to prepare for, mitigate against, and recover from wildfires – just as they do with other disasters.

The most effective actions to prepare for or mitigate against wildfires may be very different than actions needed for floods or hurricanes. And after a disaster – whether wildfire or hurricane – we need FEMA to act effectively and efficiently – to get assistance to affected communities without costly delay and mountains of paperwork.

We must find ways to make sure FEMA works for the communities hit by disaster, not against them.

That is why I am pleased we have witnesses here with us today who have firsthand knowledge of what is needed and how FEMA programs can effectively support efforts to prepare for and respond to wildfires. We may learn a thing or two we can apply to other types of disasters as well.

I look forward to hearing the testimony of the witnesses today.

Thank you, Chair Titus. I yield back.

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