tv Washington Journal Michael Brown Discusses Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts CSPAN August 31, 2017 2:13pm-2:51pm EDT
>> we will have more from vice president mike pence later today starting at 5:00 eastern as he holds a news briefing in corpus christi. we will bring that to you at 5:00 eastern. we are 15 minutes away from the start of a briefing with sarah huckabee sanders. expected to update reporters on the federal response and recovery efforts. she will also comment on the ap story that congress is gearing up for a vote on eight for victims of hurricane harvey. starts, we will have it for you live on c-span.
ourl then, more of conversation on this morning's "washington journal" with michael brown. it is because officials have asked him for that. in the disaster relief chain of governors, police chiefs, and other local authorities have run the show in recent years. fema and the military standby to provide -- every single disaster, whether it is 9/11, whether it was the alfred p morrow bombing whether it wasy, the hurricanes in 2004, or
hurricane katrina or tropical storm harvey, every action begins and ends at the local level. -- in katrina, i sat down with governor barbour , the conversation would go like this. we are here to help. tell us what you need. tell us what you think you can handle. tell us what you do not think you can handle. the thing you do not think you can handle, that is our job as the federal government, to get you those resources. back to the point that every disaster begins and ends at the local level. you have to have strong leadership at local and state government. i always chuckle. some people think the most important person to elect is a
member of congress or a u.s. senator. often times, the most important you elect is that local mayor, that county commissioner, your governor. that leadership is critical in a disaster. host: let's hear what our viewers have to say. robert in baltimore, you are on the air. as challenging as this problem is, in 100 years you have countless cities underwater, for example, new york city would have to build a massive array of levees to keep it dry, just like new orleans has. what you do about a place like houston where it is basically flat. how do you-wise, keep water out of a typography like that? what arehael brown,
your thoughts on the development of a city like houston? do the sameave to things the state of florida has done. i can give you examples from the 2004 hurricanes where jeb bush and i would be at a school campus, let's say it was in elementary and middle school. the elementary school had been andt to old building codes, was completely demolished. the middle school had been built to higher codes, and had middling damage. it is a matter of building codes. in houston, tropical storm sandra in 2001, i went to the texas medical center worried -- i went to the texas medical center. they put their laboratories in had done no -- they
flood mitigation to keep the floodwaters out of the basement. if you go to that same center today, you will see flood mitigation that you might look at and think that is just some architectural design. bowl builtis a flood to do -- built to look like part of the building during you have to get smart when you do construction. host: in the wake of this, regulations are needed to rebuild a city like houston. guest: absolutely. it is incumbent upon all local officials, in denver, colorado, we need to mitigate against wildfires and blizzards. in miami, you need to mitigate beacheserosion on the and the sea level gets closer and closer to town, you have to mitigate against that.
in houston, you have to mitigate against the fact that it is built on a swap. in new orleans, we have to come to grips with the fact that new orleans is built below sea level and the only thing that protects it are the levees. you have to have strong political leadership that says we have to make priorities in terms of limited resources area -- in terms of limited resources. are we going to spend it on x or y? the levees are designed to withstand a 500 year of event. those are the kinds of hard decisions leaders have to make, and they have to make it in conjunction with discussion with their constituents. host: let's go to sacramento. caller: bill smith, sacramento. you had a commentator on here a couple weeks ago. met -- i'vean i
been operating more stealthy and less disruptive and greener than anyone i have come across. i have had to learn to stay alive. world'sy said the records and lots of things like baseball. japan, he was in my buddy in katrina, is american rescue team international. traveleddoug copp around the world and had a ticket to fly. a business imploding
buildings. they learned what firemen's learn around the world. my point is that chinese tv gave an interview with my friend in canada and he was given the management of the military at every disaster. he was a constituency of one. he said he did not want to run fema. host: i'm going to have michael brown jump in. contracting out, does that happen? happens andsolutely it has to happen because the federal government has limited resources. state governments have limited resources area -- state governments have limited resources. it is the number of volunteers 'sat comment and do the yeomen work to save lives and that the
government is incapable of doing. contracting out to get things done is a legitimate response to a disaster, there's nothing wrong with that. host: mark, omaha, nebraska. i thought the disaster in texas was handled wonderfully between the different federal, state, local. is it not coming down to basic common sense of what we need to do in these situations and working together? it is absolutely common sense. that was my frustration during hurricane katrina. i keep going back to my point that you have to know who is in charge. if you cannot answer the question of who is in charge, the disaster is going to get worse during learnt int lesson
katrina was you cannot have someone in a bureaucratic office in washington, d.c., second guessing the guy on the ground who says i need x, and then arguing about does he need it or not. we do not question the generals in a battle about what you need to respond to the enemy. the generals on the ground are the ones that make the decision, and the bureaucracy behind them, whether it is in washington, d.c., their job is to support that team, support that commander. that is what we have learned. that is why the response in hurricane harvey is so much better than it was in hurricane katrina. michael brown, former fema director, served in the bush administration. book is on what happened in hurricane katrina.
let's go to thomas in royal oak, michigan. you, mr. brown, for giving us an education and , directtive one communications about the difficulties of handling a situation like this, and thank you for at least mentioning your perception of the trump administration's effectiveness in trying to get things going at the federal level. this and contrast thanks c-span, this contrast to the show on tuesday when people were asked to give their opinions following mr. trump's visit to the area. and that show, one third of callers used the calls as a platform for spitting out stuff,al criticism, vile
against our president. he visited the area. he had given a rally cry to people in the area, which is necessary, and frankly he did a good job. i'm not saying this to support president trump, but i think you have today given people and education on what the government can and cannot do. host: let's get michael brown's opinion on the role of the president and natural disasters and how they should use their office. i wrote an op-ed for a magazine that is read on capitol hill. president,e was mr. do not let hurricane harvey become your katrina. my point was simple. front,everything up nominee trump was not my first second or third choice. i did vote republican, so i did
vote for president trump. i have many friends that are working in the white house. my point in the editorial was this. mr. president, you have a bully pulpit, and you need to lose -- and you need to use that to tell the cabinet departments that it is all hands on deck. when you are point person, a fema director is a legal representative of the president of the united states of america. thehe ground, he has authority to say to the .resident, i need x, get me x that is the responsibility of the secretary to make that happen. the president's role is to marshal his cabinet, his administration, and to tell them, this is one of my priorities, and as my employees thatect you to fulfill
priority. no-winnts are in a situation. i do not care if it is george w. bush, barack obama, donald trump, they're always in a no-win situation when it comes to is it too early, is it too late, where do i go? let me tell you how this works. i always had the white house advance team next to me. presidents always want to get to these areas to be seen. this is politics, and there is nothing wrong with that. they want to be seen marshaling their troops. they want to be seen that they care. the white house advance team was to keep them at bay, or to give them solid advice. you can come down to florida, you can come down to texas, i would like for you to do it now, i would like for you to do it insist onif you
coming down right now, i want you to go here, because the operations here cannot be disrupted by the secret service bubble that protects the president. there is a great amount of coordination that goes on under secretary of homeland security and the president of the united states advance team about when and where we make those visits. i dold tell everybody -- not care whether you support or oppose donald trump -- presidents do this. it is part of their job. there is a lot of decision-making that goes into when and where to go. everyone should just quit sniping. barack obama went to disaster zones, george bush did, bill clinton did, back off, leave them alone. it is a no-win situation. hello? i have a comment.
the entire area that is affected by harvey is going to become a the logistics of this are going to dwarf katrina. think of cars and trucks coming in from all over the united states to work there. they have to house the victim someplace, and they are going to .ave construction personnel they're going to need drywall, , the amount of material is incredible. to be filled going up. they're going to have to figure out where to put more debris. you're looking at well over one million homes and businesses. host: michael brown, let's get your thoughts on that. what does houston look like in the months to follow? guest: it will look like a war
zone. the caller is absolutely right. it is easy from a media standpoint to fly over and look at the flooded areas, or to get pictures on interstate highways of the flood waters. what is going to occur over the next several months and frankly over the next several years, as that water slowly receives, and we understand the extent of the damage, and the rebuilding begins, think about this. familiarknow how people are with houston, but when you think about the interstate system that makes houston hum, much of that is going to be destroyed. if an interstate system is destroyed, imagine what happens to surface level streets. those are probably washed out completely. to the caller's point, this is going to be a logistic nightmare in terms of people getting back
to their homes. the construction people. resources and materials. people say it will be a boon time, but i imagine if you asked any individual if you would rather have a boom town based on reconstruction from a disaster, or would you have rather had maybe you had reserves in your business you are going to expand on capital improvement. business person would rather spend that money on capital improvements that rebuilding his business. i caution people not to think in terms of houston being a boom town, but the resources that houston had are now going to be --irected to doing things yes, it is going to be good for construction workers, but i bet business owners would have
readily -- would have rather use that money for ventures to expand their business. -- i would to be guess -- years, before we can turn around and look at houston and say everything is done. i want to get your reaction to fema officials giving a briefing and talking about scams on the ground and flood insurance. --there are three pacific three specific things we need to make sure the public understands. there were robo calls going out trying to extort people, saying if you did not make a additional payment, your policy would be canceled. we want the state of texas to get out the message that is pure fraud. you should only be taking information from trusted sources. those trusted sources are your agent or company, local
officials, the adjuster they official. a fema if they are not a trusted resource, do not rely on their information. second, there is a law in texas that is going into effect today that deals with insurance questions. some people have misconstrued this in terms of its application to the flood insurance programs. it is a state law. it has no impact on the national flood insurance program. if you're able to file your claim, do so now. if it is not safe to return to your home, have no concern. finally,ait for you. there's been a message that is going out that says if you file a claim as a result of floods last year, your ineligible to file again this year. also absolutely incorrect information. if you have a current, valid policy, you are covered during -- you are covered.
only take information from trusted sources. if you get frustrated or confused, call fema. brown, yourl reaction to hearing those officials on scams and flood insurance. guest: i want to say holly lu you. --i want to say haleju you are sitting in d.c. and everything is comfortable. affectedat have been by a disaster are in a state of mental shock. they have lost everything. they have been displaced. they are staying in a mode tell or an out -- or an apartment in an unfamiliar neighborhood. i would encourage them to do this. when you get these phone calls or that knock on the door, do not succumb to the pressure. do not let your shock and your
frustration let your guard down. it is unfortunate we have to say but i think about any time people are in that mental and physical condition. it is easy for these scumbags to take advantage of them. do notce to people is to succumb to that pressure. you are in charge. it is your life. ask questions, and if there is any doubt about who you are talking to, hang up the phone, call your insurance company, fema,our adjuster, call call the person who represents you on the flood insurance program, do not succumb to the pressure. i cannot emphasize that enough. --t: let's go to carry phil
let's go to carryville, texas. i appreciate mr. brown's comments. he understands. i moved to texas from a hurricane area in the panhandle of florida. a few majorrough hurricanes. a long way -- fema has, long way over the years. or expand to comment on mr. brown's comments about rebuilding after the hurricane. i think houston was a marsh area before they started holding in their. naturally going to come in there. they are putting a barrier in, will not stop
completely. hurricanes washout barrier islands. to do some good thinking on building codes and permits of rebuilding in areas that are going to flood. let me add to that, rethinking of who ensures those properties when they rebuild in flood prone areas. caller: it is -- guest: it is time. i've been saying this promise 14 as thesince my time secretary of homeland security. we have to have an honest debate about the flood insurance program. if american taxpayers realize it , that we as taxpayers are subsidizing. i think people should be able to build wherever they want to.
if you want to live in pensacola or the gulf coast of florida, that is not my decision to tell you you can or cannot. i do not think it is the government's decision to do that or not. if you choose to live and one of these high-risk areas, then should the taxpayer subsidize the cost of the insurance, or should you pay fair market rates for that insurance to insure against the risk because you chose to live in that particular area? i fall on the free market side. that says letside people build where they want to. thatials should make sure if you build on the coastline, you should build to withstand of a hurricane of a certain category. in terms of insurance, it bothers me that congress, year ther year, reauthorizes
national flood insurance program. the premiums are not sound, the reserves are not sound. we do not chart the kind of premiums we should. let's have a national debate about this. let's decide whether or not a taxpayer in wyoming should subsidize somebody in a flood prone area in mississippi. do we want to do that as a nation? have an honest, open debate about that. i would challenge congress, and i would say shame on congress for not doing that. congress has decided that the national flood insurance program -- there is a great way to -- shame on you. you should tell the american taxpayers the truth about the national flood insurance program. that debate is coming
because the program is up for renewal in september. here is what will happen. will immediately reapproved and re-author's eyes the national flood insurance program. they should do that, because now is not the time. a foundation that will say you're going to reauthorize it in september. what congress tends to do, they will reauthorize it in september, it is out of sight and out of mind until the next that disaster. reauthorize it in september and i would challenge paul ryan and mitch mcconnell to get it on the agenda and start having hearings over the next year or two, have and tell thete american people the truth about how it operates. it is $25 billion in debt.
people who argue against privatizing it say this, many people have a fear of private insurers and baiting protective water, seeing them as sharks. the director of insurance of the consumer federation of america, is that private companies will cherry pick the best companies and leave the rest to the ailing n fip. another fear is insurers will take on and then drop customers after hurricane without paying their claims. guest: i think those are all strawman arguments. without a operating license, you are violating the law. they should shut down companies from doing that. the other strawman argument is this. they are arguing that if you in place, and then
privatize part of it, that happens. i am saying you have to have a debate, i argue that people should be able to build anywhere then they have to assume the risk of building wherever they have chosen to build. they should take on that risk. i do not think it is the i do not have -- a moral or legal obligation to subsidize someone who has made a conscious choice, whether it is a good choice or a bad choice, to live in an area that is flood prone, more power to you. ask me or american taxpayers to subsidize your insurance for that choice. you assumed that risk, not me. host: let's go to jerry in baltimore. competent, ite so is hard to believe you are a republican.
this current, i do not think it has what it takes. local what you said the and mayors and stuff, it is the career civil servant that has saved our bacon, and thank god obama gave whatever money they and fema,or nfip because of trump gets his budget and the storm happens next year, you think we are in a world of hurt now? we are paying off superstorm sandy. i think the rebuild should require flood mitigation in these economic areas like they do in amsterdam. it costs too much. i would like to hear your
comments about that. guest: thank you for the compliment about being competent yet a republican. republicans can be competent on occasion. even though i am a conservative free-market republican, i still believe in local state governments, and they have the ability and moral and legal obligation to look at their communities and say what kind of building codes do we need? if you live in california, washington, oregon, or that newman dread -- or the new madrid fault, it is proper to require that your building codes say that if you're going to build in the area where we are prone to earthquakes, when you do new construction, we are going to require you meet these
standards. if you're going to, and and redo a building, then you have to meet these requirements. i think that is good economic sense. that is why we have federalism in this country. that is a good opportunity for me to espouse federalism. there is a division of authority between federal state and local government. that is why a support mayors and local officials. they know what is best for their community, and that is why it is important to elect good people to beat mayor and city council or and county commissioners, because they can look at what is in their community and do that. they can do it 1000% better than a career civil servant sitting in a building in washington, d.c. use your local government. use your county government. host: woodbridge, virginia. caller: i appreciate your
comments. i am a retired military officer. i have been a national guard officer. i've been a planner for hurricanes and have commanded units responding. my concern is a lot of local who have want those ,een involved in hurricanes once they move on, the new guys come in and do not understand what needs to be done. they do not think things through. all the sudden, you are back to where you are. is that when the next and, evention rolls 10 to 20 years from now, they remember these lessons. guest: that is where, to the
point, when new political appointees come in, i served in the bush thenistration from 2001 to end of 2005. one of the things i learned was while i may have certain priorities that the white house gives me to implement, i also recognize there is institutional knowledge of the career civil servant. you have to strike a balance. i think political appointees should learn to sit down with the career civil servants, find out what you've been doing. point 9% of the time the career civil servants will tell you the truth. we have doing this forever, and i cannot get anything to happen, whether it is a democrat or republican. listen to them and get that continuity. there are programs and
exercises, there is this historical knowledge you should take advantage of as a political appointee. you should never stop exercising. i wantto tell my team -- the exercises to fail, and they would look at me like i was crazy. many injectsh as into the exercise as possible, because i want to know where it is going to fall apart. and exercise should be designed to push it so hard that it does fail, so you can take the lessons from that and come back and put in the policies and rules and regulations so the next time you do that exercise you can push it further area i would say -- so you can push it further. to follow have everything they say, but understand their institutional knowledge and use it. what are you watching for
in the next days that will be critical in the response to tropical storm harvey? guest: that is a great question. here is what always happens. mark my words on this. as we move from response to recovery, and as people begin to realize just how much damage their homes and businesses have suffered, you're going to see a level of frustration in people that will be shocking to you. unlesshocking because you are in their shoes, or like me, over six years i saw so many disasters. every time someone would walk up to me, every time, they would say i never thought it would happen to me. imagine that mindset. now you have lost everything. collar -- the s'comment about all the people coming in to
build, there will be bumps in the road as they try to rebuild these things. there are times people will be frustrated. a camera person from some television station will stick a camera in somebody's face, and this person will let go because of the frustration at the time and energy it takes for them. think about kids in school. school life is going to be disrupted because their school is going to be destroyed. they are going to be in a strange area with kids they have never met before. all of these frustrations are going to begin to build up. it is a part of the process. i would caution the media. this is one of my big frustrations -- do not exploit those people. do not think that because they are frustrated, that something is going wrong. it is a natural part of the cycle. host: