Media Advisory – Senate Committees to Assess Emergency Preparedness and Roadway Response Capabilities

Senator Roger Madigan (R-23) and Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), Chairs of the Senate Transportation and Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committees, respectively, will hold a joint hearing to assess the status of the state’s emergency preparedness and roadway response capabilities.

The Committees will meet on Tuesday, October 30, 2007, from 9:30 am to noon, in the Senate Majority Caucus Room, at the State Capitol in Harrisburg.

Administration officials scheduled to appear include Secretary Allen D. Biehler, Secretary, PA Department of Transportation; General Robert P. French, Director, PA Emergency Management Agency; and Colonel Jeffrey B. Miller, Commissioner, PA State Police.

Problems with the state’s emergency and winter response systems were first identified during the snow and ice storm which paralyzed northeastern and eastern Pennsylvania from February 13-15, 2007. The storm led to the closure of large sections of Interstates 78, 80, and 81 and stranded hundreds of motorists in traffic jams in sub-freezing temperatures, some for nearly 24 hours.

An initial Senate Hearing in February 2007 identified significant breakdowns in inter-agency communications protocols, tactical response plans, and emergency response procedures.

The cabinet will offer updates on the various action plans set forth in the after-action report prepared by James Lee Witt and Associates and the subsequent agency directives issued by Governor Rendell.

“We want to see what changes are being implemented to ensure that drivers won’t face a similar situation this winter,” Baker said. “This committee wants assurances that the Administration is going to follow the recommendations and correct deficiencies that were uncovered.”

The hearing is open to the public. The media is encouraged to attend.

 Contact: Brian Grove
(570) 675-3931

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