Your June 5 article on the status of the National Response Plan (NRP) requires clarification. FEMA has strong, robust plans in place for the 2007 Hurricane Season. On April 12, FEMA formally notified Congress that the most recent update of the NRP would be delayed, and FEMA officials have testified numerous times on its status. That same notice highlighted that the most recently updated plans "are still intact and should be used for any hazard or threat." This was hardly a "revelation" at the June 4 hearing.
The delay in revising the NRP is due in large part to the significant amount of input from state and local stakeholders, and we are working aggressively to incorporate their recommendations. FEMA believes there is enormous value to including the many positive recommendations we have received. The current revision of the NRP will result in a more readable, useful and practical document that will encourage greater familiarity and utilization at all levels of government. We are confident that with the additional input the revised NRP will be well received by all of those who use it.
FEMA has made major improvements in our communications, logistics, customer service and financial controls. The New FEMA is stronger and more nimble than it was a year ago. We are significantly more ready to respond this year and have plans in place for hurricanes and other disasters.
Examples of these improvements are evident in FEMA's recent responses to tornadoes and storms across the country. Senior FEMA leaders were in regular contact with our partners in state and local government. Supplies were pre-positioned and available even before states asked for assistance. FEMA staff were on the ground within hours assessing damage. In short, our plans worked. With the revised NRP, they will work even better.
John "Pat" Philbin, PhD
Office of External Affairs
Federal Emergency Management Agency