Friday, September 30, 2005

Ford Helps Obtain Funding For New Madrid Earthquake Planning

Working with negotiators from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on the nation's Department of Homeland Security spending bill, Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. helped obtain $20 million in funding for disaster response planning in high-risk areas like the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

In a statement, Congressman Ford said:

"I am pleased that this critical project will continue to be funded. Memphis lies within the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which has a substantial likelihood of producing a significant earthquake within our children's lifetimes.

If such an earthquake occurs, it could cause the kind of catastrophic effects that we have seen in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita: significant loss of life, a shattered infrastructure and billions in economic damages. Even though Tennessee has some of the best first responders in the nation, such as Tennessee Task Force One, such an earthquake would likely overwhelm the resources of state and local governments.

"One of the best ways to prevent the mistakes that the federal government made in response to the recent storms is to engage in comprehensive planning and training exercises. The $20 million program that is now in the final version of the homeland security spending bill will fund training in regions - like the New Madrid Seismic Zone - that have the highest risk of catastrophe.

"We have seen the tragic effects of failing to plan ahead. If Hurricanes Katrina and Rita teach us nothing else, it should be that our government needs to plan and train for the worst. Simply hoping that disasters will not occur is not an option."

Both the House and Senate must vote on the final version of the Department of Homeland Security spending bill, including the funding for disaster response planning. The House vote is tentatively scheduled for next week.