Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) reintroduced the National Emergency Centers Establishment Act, legislation which would authorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to create emergency centers for temporary housing and other relief efforts in the event of a natural disaster.
"Recent calamities like Hurricane Sandy have shown us that disaster relief is complex and chaotic," said Hastings. "Although we have improved our relief efforts, there is still more that can be done to ensure Americans are safe during an emergency and are given the best opportunity to return to their normal lives soon after such an event."
This legislation would permit FEMA to institute national emergency centers on closed military bases -- allowing disaster relief organizations to be able to both prepare and train for disaster response, and provide temporary shelter for those unable to remain in their homes and neighborhoods. Such sites are effective for disaster relief and management purposes because they already contain the necessary infrastructure to house, feed, and care for thousands of people at the same time. Furthermore, these sites allow for large amounts of humanitarian relief supplies to be stored.
"Months after Hurricane Katrina had passed, thousands of people were still without food, shelter, water, and medical supplies," further noted Hastings. "These emergency centers offer a viable solution for individuals and families to have access to all the necessary materials for their immediate needs.
"Having designated sites around the country already prepared to respond to disasters is an essential component for relief, recovery, and resiliency. I urge my colleagues to support this bill to ensure that a safe option is available for all those faced with a natural disaster."
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.