Video archive of the US Congress

Senate Proceeding on May 10th, 2011 :: 1:15:20 to 1:23:20
Total video length: 2 hours 36 minutes Stream Tools: Stream Overview | Edit Time

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Mark Pryor

1:15:02 to 1:15:23( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: you see this photo that was just taken a few days ago. i think it was taken late last week of just one of our areas in the state that's underwater. we have had many, many towns that have been evacuated. many, many counties have been declared disaster areas. in fact, the corps of engineers showed me a map on friday when i

Mark Pryor

1:15:20 to 1:23:20( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Mark Pryor

Mark Pryor

1:15:24 to 1:15:45( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: met with them, and they have this map and it's a large oval that goes -- that starts down near dallas, texas, goes pretty much all across the state of arkansas and into a little bit of missouri and tennessee and illinois and even i think a little bit into kentucky, and in that oval, the folks in those

Mark Pryor

1:15:46 to 1:16:06( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: areas have received six times the normal rainfall in that area. so when you have six times the normal rainfall, this is what you get here, and this is just a photo where you can see the water is up in the house and up on the front porch. you know, these folks are under water, just like a lot of people in my state are.

Mark Pryor

1:16:07 to 1:16:28( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: i will say this, the governor in our state is doing all any governor can do. he is doing a great job. even though we have interstate 40 under water right now in one area where the white river goes under interstate 40, they're working very hard to try to get that open, maybe today. if the water will cooperate, we're seeing a lot of emergency

Mark Pryor

1:16:29 to 1:16:49( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: response in our state. we're seeing neighbor helping neighbor. the churches are rolling out. all kinds of folks are just doing everything they can do to make this work. so we appreciate that. also i want to really corps of engineers. it's really easy for us to beat up on the corps of engineers sometimes, but, you know, the truth is probably 95% or more of the time they do things right,

Mark Pryor

1:16:50 to 1:17:10( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: they do it the right way. if it weren't for the corps of engineers, all of arkansas would be under water and a lot more. i think that's true around the country. so the system that they have designed and they have built has worked, even though this is a 100-year flood or even worse, it's working and it's saving billions and billions of dollars

Mark Pryor

1:17:11 to 1:17:32( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: in damages and hardship, so i want to thank the corps. also i want to thank fema. fema has been on the ground in arkansas for three, four weeks now probably with different teams going around the state, helping in different ways, and they have been very helpful. so i appreciate fema. now i want to go to my second topic and i want to emphasize that what we're seeing happening

Mark Pryor

1:17:33 to 1:17:53( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: in the state right now is not impacted by what i'm about to talk about, but i think that this fema administration is still cleaning up some mess from the previous fema administration. a few years ago, we had another series of floods in our state, and now what we're seeing is

Mark Pryor

1:17:54 to 1:18:14( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: we're seeing fema trying to recoup that money against people in our state. so let me give a little background. three years ago, in an area around mountain view, arkansas, the white river flooded, and fema came and they -- they showed up.

Mark Pryor

1:18:15 to 1:18:35( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: they actually went to this woman's house. i want to talk about her and her husband. went to this couple's house. they are on social security. they are retired. fema assured them that they would be eligible for assistance. fema took pictures, they verified the damage. they gave her the paperwork, even kind of coached her through

Mark Pryor

1:18:36 to 1:18:57( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: some of the paperwork, and they assured her repeatedly, assured them repeatedly that they would qualify for some assistance from fema. now, they did end up getting getting $27,000 for home repair, and that's exactly what they spent it for. they played by the rules, they filled out all the paperwork.

Mark Pryor

1:18:58 to 1:19:19( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: fema was physically on their premises. they got their check, they put it right back into the house like they said they would do, and it helped them stay in their house. now fast forward three years, and we see that fema writes them a letter, what i would call a demand letter where they are

Mark Pryor

1:19:20 to 1:19:40( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: requesting that they repay all of this money and that they have 30 days to repay the balance of the debt that they owe to fema. this, of course, is a big shock to them because they were assured repeatedly that they had a legitimate claim and that fema encouraged them to file this claim and they got the money and

Mark Pryor

1:19:41 to 1:20:01( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: they thought everything was great with it. what's happened here is these -- this couple, like many others in our state, this couple built their home down on the river, and they knew that it could possibly flood one day. when they built it, they bought

Mark Pryor

1:20:02 to 1:20:22( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: flood insurance. after years of paying flood insurance and they were flooded, after years of paying flood insurance, the flood insurance company said they weren't going to carry flood insurance anymore. they actually went to lloyd's of london and bought flood insurance for their property and did that for a number of years. eventually, lloyd's of london said we're not going to do flood insurance anymore.

Mark Pryor

1:20:23 to 1:20:43( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: so they desperately tried to find flood insurance, could never find it. fema has a rule that in order to -- for anyone to get flood insurance through the flood insurance program, the county or the city has to pass an ordinance in order for them to

Mark Pryor

1:20:44 to 1:21:05( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: get the flood insurance, people in their community to get flood insurance. fema knew that this particular county had not passed this ordinance. nonetheless, they assured her repeatedly that she was entitled to this money. so in a very real sense, these people and many others in our state, these people are twice the victim. they are the victim of the storm and then the flood, but then

Mark Pryor

1:21:06 to 1:21:27( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: they are the victim of their government because their own government has injured them by the way they have handled all of this giving out the money and then demanding recoupment for the money. three years after the fact when they get the notice of debt, -- fema, by the way, not just sent

Mark Pryor

1:21:28 to 1:21:48( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: it out to one couple but 35 households around the state -- three years later when they get this notice of debt, they have no means to pay this back. these folks are on social security. they don't have -- in fact, they wouldn't have qualified for the money, for the payment had they had substantial resources. so one of the ironies here is

Mark Pryor

1:21:49 to 1:22:09( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: that what we're doing is we're telling the poorer people that they need to pay fema back and the poorer folks owe fema the most money. that's just the way the program works. i think if we had director fugate -- who again is doing a good job running fema. i think if we had director

Mark Pryor

1:22:10 to 1:22:31( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: fugate here today, i don't know what he would say exactly about the situation, but i think he would say that the statute ties his hands and he really doesn't have much flexibility under the statute, and even though whether he agrees with the hardship of the situation or not or the equity of the situation or not, he just doesn't have a lot of leeway on trying to -- to deal with this. so i'm offering a solution, and

Mark Pryor

1:22:32 to 1:22:52( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: i'm offering it in the homeland security committee this week. i hope that members of the -- of the senate will look at my piece of legislation, it's only four pages long, and what we're asking is we're asking the congress to give fema some flexibility when it comes to the

Mark Pryor

1:22:53 to 1:23:14( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: recoupment process and to allow leniency for some individuals under certain circumstances. and i think our couple here in arkansas fits those circumstances exactly. basically, they played by the rules, they have done all that they can do. they are -- they continue to play by the rules and do all

Mark Pryor

1:23:15 to 1:23:28( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: that they can do -- and i be glad to yield the floor to

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