NO. R-119. JOINT RESOLUTION URGING THE UNITED STATES ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS AND THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ADMINISTRATION TO ADOPT NEW REGULATIONS TO FULLY INTEGRATE THE CORPS INTO THE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PROCESS, AND IN THE ALTERNATIVE, REQUESTING THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO ENACT STATUTORY CHANGES TO ACCOMPLISH THIS GOAL.
Introduced by: Senator Bahre of Addison County, Senator Ide of Caledonia
County, Senator Ready of Addison County and Senator
Shumlin of Windham County.
Whereas, in June of 1998, the Mad River Valley of Vermont, and, in particular, the town of Granville, sustained severe flooding damage, and
Whereas, the resulting damage to agricultural land, roads and private manufacturing locations was among the most serious in decades, and
Whereas, Governor Howard Dean, after visiting the damaged sites, promptly issued a state of emergency declaration, and
Whereas, President Clinton then quickly issued the corresponding federal declaration that authorized the provision of various forms of federal assistance to the stricken families, municipalities, farms and businesses, and
Whereas, because these declarations were issued with such rapidity after the flood, state and federal authorities were able to initiate emergency programs for the stricken victims in a matter of days, and
Whereas, nearly all of the federal, state and volunteer agencies that offered their specialized services and programs in the Mad River Valley, including the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), the Vermont Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the American Red Cross performed their responsibilities in a magnificent and extremely timely fashion, displaying courtesy, understanding and patience as they earnestly tried to alleviate the innumerable problems that developed during the days and weeks after the flooding, and
Whereas, this wonderful cooperative process of state, federal and volunteer organizations working in tandem to expedite all necessary repair and restoration work was shattered when river and stream repairs were ready for implementation, and
Whereas, in the town of Hancock, a private landowner named Larry Bettis, whose property is situated at the confluence of the White River and its tributary, the Hancock Branch, was nearly set to begin necessary stream repairs resulting from flood-related damage, and
Whereas, he had received the full cooperation of nearly all the state and federal authorities responsible for stream reconstruction, and
Whereas, at nearly the last moment, Mr. Bettis received a certified letter from the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers, informing him that because his proposal involved river dredging, a Corps permit was required and would be conditioned on the presentation of numerous pieces of documentation, and
Whereas, when Mr. Bettis contacted the Corps explaining that his repair work was necessitated by damage resulting from an unanticipated flooding emergency, he was told that the Corps, pursuant to the Clean Water Act, had jurisdiction over this project, and that no distinction was made for emergency-related repairs, and
Whereas, because of the Corps objections, this critical repair project was not completed before the winter of 1999-2000, and it may be more complex and expensive should new flooding occur this spring, and
Whereas, the Granville Manufacturing Company (GMC) instituted emergency repair work along the White River, without the Corps' intervention, only to be faced months later with a notice of violation from the Corps, stating that fines in the range of $50,000.00 might be assessed, and
Whereas, had the Corps been involved in the immediate post-flooding discussions, then many of the problems that have arisen in these and other similar cases might have been avoided, and
Whereas, federal regulations must be changed, and, if necessary, statutory modifications enacted, that will require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to be a coordinating agency with FEMA from the moment the President issues an emergency declaration, now therefore be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:
That the General Assembly strongly urges the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Administration to begin a federal rules adoption procedure that will fully integrate the Corps into the post-emergency declaration administrative process, and be it further
Resolved: That, should either agency lack the statutory authority to adopt rules to implement this needed federal policy change, Congress should enact the needed statutory amendments to enable these agencies to proceed, and be it further
Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to Lt. General Joe N. Ballard, Commander-in-Chief, United States Army Corps of Engineers; James Lee Witt, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Administration; and to the members of the Vermont Congressional Delegation.