Senate panel to review nation’s readiness for extreme weather

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A Senate panel on Wednesday plans to examine the federal government’s preparedness for extreme weather events at a hearing set to take place just hours before a winter storm is forecast to begin creeping into the Washington region from the South.

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will review federal, state and local efforts to prepare for disasters of the future, including floods, wildfires, historic droughts and storms, focusing on the potential economic benefits of having response plans and resources in place early.

Officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the Government Accountability Office are scheduled to testify before the panel, along with representatives from state governments, private industry, and academia, according to a hearing notice.


Georgia National Guard troops in Atlanta after a January snow storm left drivers stranded overnight on the roads. (Chris Aluka Berry/Reuters)

Coincidentally, a projected three-day storm headed toward the South and Southeast on Tuesday prompted President Obama to declare an emergency for 45 counties in Georgia. That action, requested by Georgia Gov. Nathan Neil, authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to back the state in responding to the weather event.

FEMA has deployed a coordinating officer and a liaison to support the state emergency operations center in Atlanta, the agency said.

The storm is expected to make its way up the Eastern Seaboard, with forecasters predicting heavy snow for the Washington region Wednesday night. The House cancelled all hearings scheduled for Wednesday in anticipation of the extreme weather.

One of the heaviest snowstorms in recent history for the nation’s capital occurred in February 2010, when more than 3 feet of snow dropped in some areas, snarling traffic, taking down power lines and making conditions bad enough that the U.S. Postal Service stopped delivering mail one day.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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Josh Hicks · February 11