Senate Homeland Security Committee Holds Field Hearing on Rhode Island’s Preparation for 2006 Hurricane Season

At the request of Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a field hearing in Providence, Rhode Island on April 20th entitled: Rhode Island Homeland Security Priorities: Preparation for the 2006 Hurricane Season.

Committee Chairman Susan Collins and Committee Member Chafee heard testimony from state and federal officials on Rhode Island’s preparation and planning for the upcoming hurricane season. Witnesses detailed what resources have already been dedicated to this effort and noted what additional precautions may be necessary to ensure that the area is adequately prepared for a potential hurricane.

“By examining in detail the homeland security challenges of one state, we can better understand the challenges faced by other states. Rhode Island is a microcosm of the homeland security issues that must be addressed in other costal states,” said Senator Collins. “Rhode Island faces considerable homeland security challenges. In addition to being a major transportation hub, with an increasingly busy international cargo port, and a center of industry, research, education, and recreation, Rhode Island has the second highest population density in the nation. A disaster here, whether natural or man-made, could have especially dire consequences.”

“Hurricane Katrina showed us in very vivid fashion that threats to our nation occur in many different forms, and Rhode Island is no stranger to the devastating effects of hurricanes,” Senator Chafee said. “Under the stewardship of Senator Collins, the Homeland Security Committee has held extensive hearings on the federal, state, and local response to Hurricane Katrina, and we have found numerous problems in coordination between key government agencies. As we work to correct these problems and ensure that they are not repeated, I requested this hearing to assess Rhode Island’s preparedness and level of vulnerability should a category four or five hurricane hit our coastline. I would like to thank Chairwoman Collins for agreeing to hold today’s hearing on this vital topic.”

Panelists for this hearing included:

• R.I. Governor Donald L. Carcieri,
• Providence Mayor David Cicilline,
• Executive Director of the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency Chief Robert J. Warren,
• Acting Region I FEMA Director Kenneth Horak,
• Adjutant General of the Rhode Island National Guard Major General Robert Thomas Bray, and
• Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director of Warwick John E. Chartier.