THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Burbank, California) ______________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release January 19, 1994
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS IN DISCUSSION ON DISASTER RELIEF
Hollywood-Burbank Airport Burbank, California
1:30 P.M. PST
MAYOR RIORDAN: Mr. President, gathered here this afternoon is the public leadership of Los Angeles and our region. Joining with the Los Angeles City Council we have our United States senators, members of Congress, our Governor, elected state officials, members of the State Senate and Assembly, members of our County Board of Supervisors, and mayors from adjoining cities.
Mr. President, thank you for accepting my invitation to come to Los Angeles so quickly. What took you 24 hours? (Laughter.) To see firsthand the enormity and severity of this natural disaster.
It was only the morning before last that the earthquake struck and changed our lives. Mr. President, I wish we could be together under very different circumstances. Such as you saw today, the earthquake leveled whole blocks and left other neighborhoods virtually untouched. But in some way it touched every one of us. In the face of this, I am especially proud of the strong response of our police and fire departments and the rest of our city family who have worked so well with the help provided by the county, the state and the individual residents of the city.
The people of Los Angeles are particularly grateful to you for the timely coordinated federal response that has come through your leadership. You, Senator Feinstein, Governor Wilson, were among the first phone calls I received to offer help after the earthquake. Hours later, Mr. President, you had Secretaries Pena, Cisneros, FEMA head James Lee Witt, highway head Rod Slater, and other top officials on an airplane landing in Los Angeles. This was an unprecedented response that's never happened before. (Applause.)
Mr. President, we will need your help and the help of all those gathered here to recover from this tragedy.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to introduce to you, the President of the United States Bill Clinton. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Mayor.
Ladies and gentlemen, first let me say that I always learn something when I come to southern California. Very often in the last two years, I have come here when things were difficult for people and I always walk away utterly astonished.
I would like to say two things by way of introduction. First, on behalf of all the people on our federal team, we want to thank the Mayor and the members of the City Council and city government, the Governor and the state legislators, Senator Boxer, Senator Feinstein, the members of the United States Congress, the
members of the county government, people I have already met with here today. The sense of teamwork here has been truly extraordinary. And I appreciate all of you doing that so much.
When I became President, one of the things I most wanted to do was to give the American people a high level of confidence that their government at least would work in basic ways, and that they could trust us at least to do the basic human things right without regard to party, philosophy, whatever fights we were having over economic policy or anything else in the world. That when the chips were down, the basic things that people were entitled to have that done by their national government, they would feel that. And I suppose there's no more important area than in an emergency for people to have that kind of feeling.
Today I was -- the second thing I want to say is that I never cease to be amazed by the energy and the optimism, the courage and the constant good humor of so many millions of people in this state against all odds. And I walked the crowds today -- through these crowds. I saw public workers that haven't slept more than two or three hours in three days, working on the roads, the water lines, the gas lines. We saw countless numbers of people who had lost their homes, who didn't know when they were going to be able to go back to work. We saw children asking us to help get their schools fixed so they could go back to school. I met a man who had saved three homes in his neighborhood, along with a team of firemen.
I met a woman who had lost her home -- this is unbelievable -- lost her home, who said to me, "You know, I lost my home and I'm really grateful you folks are coming here to help, but when you go to that meeting this afternoon, I hope you'll just ask everybody to do the right thing." She said, "Ask people not to overcharge us for water. But ask all the people who are hurt not to take advantage of FEMA." She said, "You know, somebody in the rest of this country might get in trouble later this year and I lost my home, but we're going to do some of this ourselves. And I heard some people who were asking for reimbursement for things that were already broken in their homes." And she said, "We just all ought to do the right thing and we'll come out okay."
And so I say to all of you who are elected, you've got a lot to be proud of just in the people that you represent. (Applause.)
The Mayor has already mentioned all the people in the federal team who came out here, but I would like to thank them. FEMA Director James Lee Witt, and Secretary Cisneros, Secretary Pena, the Federal Highway Administrator Rodney Slater, the Deputy Secretary of Commerce David Barran. John Emerson, from my staff, came out here early. All told, we've had about 1,500 federal personnel in California, Washington, and at the teleregistration center in Denton, Texas, working on this. And as I said, it's really been a joy to work with the local and the state officials. I think we're all about to get the hang of working with each other, but we hope we don't have another chance to do it very soon.
As you know, I was asked to declare a disaster declaration on the day that the earthquake occurred, and I did that. And we'll be talking later in this meeting about the whole range of federal services that are available, and about the disaster assistance centers that FEMA will set up and how people can access them. I ask all of you who are federal officials and state officials and county officials and local officials to help us with this.
I looked at those people today, and a lot of those folks are not used to fooling with the government for anything. They're not used to asking for help, they're not -- they can't be charged with the knowledge of what is in a FEMA program, or in a SBA program
or some other agency program. We're going to do our very best to make it easy and accessible for them. And they'll talk more about that in a minute. But you can help us a lot, Mayor -- all of you can help us a lot by simply telling us is it's reaching people.
And when this is all over, Leon Panetta and I have to go back to Washington and figure out how to pay for it -- (laughter) -- and that's our job. But it won't work unless it actually works.
When I was walking up and down those lines today looking at those folks, I thought most of these people are just good hardworking people trying to do the right thing. And it never occurred to them that they would ever have to figure out how to work their way through a maze of any sort of federal program, whatever.
So one of the things that all of you can do to help us is to be good intermediaries and if it's not working to let us know. If we need to be some place we're not, let us know. And that's, I think, very, very important.
The other point I want to make is that we'll be talking a lot about emergency aid today, but we recognize that it's going to take a good while to finish this work. When I was out at the place where the highway broke down -- one of many -- I asked how long it would take to fix it. And the highway engineer said, "Oh, probably about a year." And I said, "Well, what do you have to do to fix it in less time?" (Applause.) It's not just a question of money, it's also a question of organization. We'll talk more about that today.
I want to make three specific announcements today, but to make this point: This is a nation problem, and we have a national responsibility and we will be in it for the long run. This is not something where all of us from the federal government just showed up while this is an issue in the headlines, gripping the hearts and emotions of all your countrymen and women who feel for you all the way to the tip of northern Maine and the tip of southern Florida. This is something we intend to stay with until the job is over.
And in that connection, I have been authorized to say that today the Small Business Administration will be releasing enough money to support about $240 million in new low-interest loans to people who qualify for them. (Applause.) We will release $45 million in new funds from the Department of Transportation to support the beginning of all the clean-up and the beginning of the repair movement.
There's a lot of, unfortunately, a lot of destruction now that has to be done on those roads before the construction can start; so that will accelerate that process. (Applause.)
And the third thing I want to say is that as soon as we get good cost estimates -- and the Governor and the Mayor have given us some today -- but as soon as we get good cost estimates on what the losses are and what kinds of things fall within the responsibility of the federal government, we will then see how much money we now have already appropriated for disasters. And then, along with your congressional delegation, I expect to ask the Congress for an emergency supplemental appropriation for California as soon as the Congress returns on January the 25th. (Applause.) And I believe the Congress will do the right thing.
And I want to tell you that this is something I think the California delegation will be absolutely united on. And we've already had the conversations with them. I'm grateful that so many members of the delegation are here today.
Let me just say one final thing. I have been asked also by several people -- by the Mayor, the Governor, the Senators among
others today -- about the matching requirement. Generally in any emergency, there's a 25 percent match requirement which the federal government can waive -- can be waived so that the match requirement goes down to 10 percent for state and local contribution to disaster assistance. I wish I could just come here today and tell you that I could waive that. We waived it in the Midwest flood -- when we had the floods earlier this year. We had a 500-year flood, the worst flood that we hope it only comes along every 500 years. I think you have a very strong case for waiver, but before we can approve it, under the law, we have to have a realistic assessment of what the costs are because the criteria established by Congress for waiver is that the burdens on the state and local resources will be too great to reasonably bear, given the other problems.
Now, if you look at the economic problems that California and southern California have had alone in the last four years, I don't think it will be too difficult for you to make that case. But it is not legally possible for me to say until I see the numbers and the arguments. So you have to make the case, we will work with you to help you make that case. But that's a commitment I can't make today until we see the evidence under the law.
We will proceed with the emergency supplemental. And I'd like to spend the rest of the meeting just sort of listening to what's going on, what the problems are, because when I leave here today, I want to have a clear sense that we have our act together and that when we go back to Washington we'll be able to do our part there while you're doing your part here.
And the last point I want to make, again, is that we have no intention -- none -- of letting this be a short-term thing. We will stay with you until this job is finished. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thank you, Mr. President. I'll now call on Governor Pete Wilson to make some remarks. (Applause.)
GOVERNOR WILSON: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Mr. President, first let me thank you for being here. Your presence attests your clear and evident concern, as does that of the administration officials who were here literally the first day. From what is unhappily much too broad a basis for comparison, I will tell you that having observed this, I have never seen better cooperation between all the levels of government. And I congratulate you, sir, on the very effective cooperation that we have had from Secretary Pena, Secretary Cisneros. Your Administrator of FEMA James Lee Witt is getting to be almost a Californian. And there's been really superb coordination and cooperation.
You will, I think, pardon me if I make the comment that I really have to begin by applauding the people of this community. They have been through an enormous test -- multiple tests over the last two or three years -- and have responded with what I think is remarkable courage, tenacity , resilience and generosity of spirit.
We have -- on the first morning, before light, the people of Caltrans, including some of the retired employees of Caltrans, came to their offices in order to get a start, the kind that has translated in cooperation with Secretary Pena's people in allowing us to let those contracts for the demolition of the damaged segments of the freeways. We have seen marvelous cooperation between all of the agencies and volunteers, the citizen soldiers who have been transporting the sheriff's deputies. These disasters do seem to bring out the very best in most people. But what we are very clearly grateful for is the promptness of the response. It has been very effective.
I know your heart goes out, as does mine, to the victims of this quake, to the loved ones who have been deprived of the 42 people who have lost their lives; to all those who have lost their homes. But as you worked that rope line, I think you saw, sir, that the people of this community, whether they've had a bath in the last couple of days, whether they've been able to get back into their homes, they're shaken but their spirit is not broken. And I am very proud of those Californians, those Angelenos, who can be guaranteed that the effort that has been made will continue.
The one final thing I would say is that I think your focus is absolutely correct. There is tremendous amount of a focused sense of urgency, as properly there should be. And the trick, as you correctly pointed out, will be to sustain that sense of urgency and channel that energy into solving the problems in the months that lie ahead.
Thank you very much, Mr. President. (Applause.)
MAYOR RIORDAN: I would now like to call on Senator Feinstein.
SENATOR FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor, and thank you very much, President Clinton, and to your administration for responding. I know you will leave here with the kind of emotional commitment that everyone in this room feels.
As one who had an opportunity to view the Loma Prieta earthquake firsthand and this earthquake, I must say that I think the devastation from this one is going to be much more significant and much more long-range. It is perhaps the first time we've had an epicenter right in the middle of an urban area.
And I've flown the area and we've driven it, and it is much more evident when you're in the communities -- and you didn't see a lot of it this morning, Mr. President, it was a very circumscribed route that you took. But there is a great deal of residential destruction.
And I am very concerned, and I talked to Secretary Cisneros and I talked to Mr. Witt about housing, water and food for people. And my sense is that it has to be a multipronged program for housing. It has to be vouchers, plus some ability to set up field kitchens in some places, and perhaps with some temporary trailers. There are people whose homes and apartments are off the foundations. They're afraid to leave because their units are going to be trashed.
I must also tell you, Mr. President, people reported to me that there were merchants selling water for six dollars a quart and milk for the same price. And I know you join in saying that's not the California way and it is not the American way. And I would hope that all of the supermarkets will open as soon as possible, keep prices level -- even reduce them, if possible -- and begin wherever possible to give out free food.
I ran into Shell Oil Company -- they were bringing in truckloads of food from their convenience facilities to give away. I know Food For Less is going to bring in food and give it away. And I think that's the California way. Water, too -- where we were this morning, people said they had no water. I think those are the immediate problems that really must be attended to: housing, food and water, and seeing that people have it. If the rain comes in in the weekend, it's going to be difficult to spend the night in the park.
Long-range, I think the questions of building codes for wood-frame construction were seriously raised in Loma Prieta and what I saw there was corroborated here. I'm convinced our codes are not
sufficient, and that we also need to rethink some of the way we construct our freeways. The people from -- the supervisors from Ventura County mentioned to me that they were not included in the declaration. Mr. Witt said they were included in the declaration effective last night. So, hopefully, that will take place immediately because they have 1,000 people homeless, as well.
Just a couple of other points. The FEMA line, we understand, is jammed, the teleregistration line. I think it's extraordinarily important that as much phone capacity as possible be set up and that the disaster centers be in the center of the area where people are homeless -- not outside of that area, but in these centers, no matter what they have to do to be able to do it.
I would like to thank Secretary Pena for bringing in additional cars for the Metrolink. That's going to be the major source of transportation into the city from the northern end of the Valley. And I think the more cars you can get in and help add to that Metrolink would be very effective.
I also want to say that I sat through -- I'm a former Mayor and I sat through Mayor Riordan's emergency operations meeting. And it was as good as I've seen. And the people really have come together: department heads, citizens, public officials. Directions are being given and carried out. And the water and power people, they really deserve many thanks -- (applause) -- because I know a maximum effort has been made to get what were very damaged power systems back in place. And I know I speak for my colleague and friend, Senator Boxer -- we will do everything we can, and I certainly will on Senate appropriations to see that the supplemental gets moved in the Senate just as fast as possible.
Thank you very much, Mr. President. (Applause.)
MAYOR RIORDAN: Senator Boxer, could you say a few words please?
SENATOR BOXER: Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor.
I want to, of course, underscore what my colleague has said and tell you that we're a team and everything she laid out there, we'll be partners in getting done. But I would take this time that I have been given to add a few more comments.
Mr. President, truly in behalf of all the elected officials who are here and the people of this state, we're very glad you're here. It was very important for us that you come here. And you did it so quickly and you sent your team in so fast. And I know how hard it was for them to get out of Washington, which is suffering below-zero temperatures right now. And they has problems with de-icing on the plane, and they came in very, very late the night of the earthquake day. And I tell you, we were happy to see Secretary Pena, Cisneros, and of course, James Lee Witt.
And I want to take a moment to thank, on behalf of all of us, Congressman Norman Manetta, who is being humble and is down in the front row. (Applause.) You know, I have to tell you -- and Leon will back me up -- as a House member I was there for 10 years, he longer -- usually you're interested in what happens outside your district and you call and so on. This man has been with us from day one. We were in a helicopter together with Secretary Pena. And he's Chairman of the House Public Works Committee and is going to be invaluable to us because he's seen these things with his own eyes.
Let me say that you've added today to your team the great and wonderful Leon Panetta, Erskine Bowles of the SBA, and David Barran representing Secretary Brown. And I like your team approach.
And the most important thing you said to me was, you're in it for the long range, Mr. President. After these lights go down and the people look around, we need you there for the long run, because the problems in these homes -- and as Senator Feinstein has said, we have gone through Loma Prieta. I was the Congresswomen from the area with Nancy Pelosi. Leon had the epicenter. When you get into those homes as we did today, you see what people are dealing with. They are in trouble. They are in more trouble then has been reported, and I want to say that.
They still don't have their power, many of them. They don't have water, and they're suffering out there and they are waiting. And the children, Mr. President, even though they knew you were nearby -- I talked to a group of children -- they didn't have a smile on their face. There wasn't a smile on their face. And they said, one of them said, "I rescued my dog. A ladder almost fell on my dog. Is this going to happen again? And when can I go to school?"
So we have to remember, you know, we're really happy, and we're all thanking each other, and it's good that we're thanking each other because we're all working hard, but it's a sustained effort. It means that we need those centers in their communities, the schools need to be opened. They have to have a sense that they have some control over their lives. We have to listen to Leon Panetta, who brought in those mobile homes during Loma Prieta and gave housing.
I hear there are 2,000 or 3,000 homeless -- I don't believe those numbers. I think there maybe as many as 10 times more. I don't know. It's a gut feeling that I have.
In closing -- and you see I could talk too long -- you know that the freeways are our lifeline, Mr. President. Our economic and our personal lifeline. And I know your commitment to work 24 hours to get them fixed. We need to have the engineers work 24 hours to get the plans in place because these freeways have to be strengthened. We're not going to put them up the way they were so they'll fall down again. (Applause.) So we need them working 24 hours a day.
I guess my time has run out. The Mayor said he would pull the plug, and I think he's ready. We're just here with you and we'll work with you in Washington and California. And on behalf of all these good folks who are my colleagues, thank you very much. (Applause.)
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thank you very much, Senator.
The rest of the program is going to have a lot of meat to it. It will be broken into six areas. The first will be to briefly discuss emergency response by the various governmental agencies. The next will be a discussion of water and power problems. The next will be housing problems; then public safety; then transportation; and then rebuilding and recovery.
The first one is emergency response. I will say a few words and then call on the experts.
The emergency response immediately after the earthquake was rapid and coordinated. When I went into the Emergency Operations Center below City Hall just about 45 minutes after the earthquake, it was in full operation. I'm also very proud of the response not only from all the department heads of the city, but from the people as well -- the workers of the city and the citizens who treated their neighbors with love and helped them through these tough times.
The emergency center has continued to function every minute around the clock since the earthquake. Our Emergency Operations Board, which is chaired by Chief Willie Williams of our police department, has met daily and sometimes twice daily to coordinate the efforts of not only the city departments, but the state, federal and county departments.
Preliminary estimates of damages are in the billions of dollars. Shelter, food, water needs are pressing in some areas. As we have seen, our infrastructure, our freeways infrastructure has been severely impacted. It will take a considerable amount of time -- some people say over a year -- to repair this damage. President Clinton, when sitting with him in the car, said that's not tolerable to him and he's going to put all of the federal resources behind making it happen sooner.
I would like, at this time, to call on Dick Andrews, who is the Director of the Office of State Emergency Services, and Dick has been a lot of disasters in the past and I think can give us a lot of his history. Thank you very much. Dick.
MR. ANDREWS: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Mr. President, Governor Wilson. On Monday morning one of the third or fourth calls that I made after contacting Governor Wilson and members of my staff was to Director James Lee Witt to request the immediate alerting of all the national urban search and rescue teams and the National Disaster Medical System, because of the first reports we had and my concern about the scale of this disaster. From that moment to the present time, we have continued from the local level and the county level and the state level to issue a continuous flow of requests to the federal government for their assistance, and they have been responsive to those needs.
This is a regional disaster. It is not a disaster of a single community -- it is a regional disaster. My pager has been going off because the aftershocks continue up to the present time. You may have felt one just before we started this meeting. There are many structures out there that are damaged and weakened and may collapse in some of these aftershocks. So the emergency phase is not over. We believe that the issue of water, the issue of housing, the issue of human services -- those are all emergency issues, just as urban search and rescue was an emergency issue.
In many respects, the most difficult part of an earthquake response is the phase that we're in right now. There are tangible actions that are taken in the first hours, tangible rescues that go on -- people can see their government in action. Now is the difficult time; the problems are more intractable. There's a tremendous opportunity for all of us to begin to find fault with the efforts of others.
I think the emergency response was effective at the local, state, county and federal level. We will continue that level of intensity over the next few days. I ask each of you, as elected officials, to let us know what the needs of the community are. We will continue to meet those needs. We will try innovative solutions as we think of them and as you think of them. And, again, I simply ask you to continue to work with us in an effort and in an emergency that is by no means over, but will continue for a number of days and weeks as this effort continues to go on. Thank you.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thank you very much, Dick.
I'll next call on James Lee Witt, who is head of FEMA. I call him the emergency czar for Washington, but the one thing I've been impressed with by James Lee and by the other top officials of the Clinton administration and people like Norm Manetta, is they
didn't come in to grandstand. They got their hands dirty, they got into the trenches from day one and they worked around the clock.
So, Mr. Witt.
DIRECTOR WITT: Thank you, Mayor. Governor, Mr. President. It's bad when the President has to help me out of a disaster. (Laughter.)
Yesterday when we were at the town meeting, City Council meeting, the Mayor said, "You've been to California many times lately." And I said, "Yes, Mayor, I have." And I said, "The next time I come I would like to come on vacation to see your beautiful state." So I'm looking forward to that. (Applause.)
First, let me say that anytime we have a disaster of any magnitude it's bad, because people are hurt and people's lives are just thrown out. They lose their belongings, everything they have. And they get frustrated and get aggravated at the system and the bureaucratic red tape that we all have. And it's important, and the President has insisted that not only myself, but Secretary Cisneros and Secretary Pena and Erskine Bowles -- all of us that are the federal partnership -- to cut as much red tape as possible. And that's what we're going to do to make it easy for disaster victims -- and you, as a community leader and congressional leaders.
But it's important that you as a congressional leader let me know if there's something that I can do to assist your community and your district because we need to be appraised of what's happening, because sometime we may not see everything or we may not hear everything. But it's important that you at the state, at the local level, let Dick Andrews know so he can coordinate with me to make sure that we get that response out there to you.
Also, Dick and myself are working very, very hard as a partner in this response, and we're here to respond to the needs of the state and local communities. And that's what we're doing.
Dick and I worked the fires -- it was like we were literally glued together out here for several days. And that's what we're going to do now. So when we start this afternoon, tomorrow, and through the weekend, we will be doing this together because that's the way we do emergency management now. It is a partnership between federal, state, and local.
We will be opening disaster application centers tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Dick has been working very hard with us in making sure those centers get open. Those centers are what we do. We work together with the state, the local community and elected officials where we're going to put those centers. And Dick will be announcing the location of those later on. It maybe that we have to add more centers, okay? So don't give up just because we hadn't got a center there. We're going to try to open 11 tomorrow.
And for the first time ever, Secretary Cisneros is going to have HUD people in our disaster application centers passing out vouchers for immediate housing. That's never been done. Isn't that wonderful? (Applause.)
Secretary Cisneros and Secretary Pena, all of us on the federal team -- as the Mayor said yesterday, the President sent his A-plus team. I don't know if you've heard that, or not. But we appreciate that, Mayor. But we have really pulled together an effort to it easy for everybody.
The centers will open tomorrow at noon. Dick will be announcing where those centers are very soon. And we will have temporary housing, individual assistance, the individual family grant
program, all of that available at the center. We'll have crisis counseling there available at the center. We'll have SBA at the center. We'll also have the SBA answering the telephones at our teleregistration center, taking applications over the phone, as well. We will have Red Cross, Corps of Engineer -- whatever we need, we will have there.
Dick and I worked the last time on having the insurance companies in there, in which hope we can do that again as well to give homeowners an opportunity to get information for homeowners insurance.
So everything we're doing is geared to move very quickly to help disaster victims, and that's what we're going to do. The temporary housing is 100-percent program. The federal assistance for the first 72 hours that the President signed is 100 percent as well on the federal response. So that will help a great deal.
But one thing that's really important is that we address the needs very quickly. And Dick and I, on the bus coming on this trip, were talking and addressing the water situation. We're going to have over a million gallons of water here this afternoon, and there will be a million gallons of water every day until we get through with what we have to do. (Applause.)
Dick sat there and he said, "You know we need to do this." And I said, that's a wonderful idea. So he got on the phone calling back at our office. We've got a task force now for housing, we've got a task force for water, a task force for food -- and what else have I missed? General human services. So we can prioritize these things so it will help the communities and the disaster victims.
So I think my time's up, but I'll be happy to answer questions.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Mr. President, it's your turn to ask some questions or give us some good advice on how we can improve our response.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I would like to ask just -- I think the audience would like to know -- and I know Dick's going to announce later where they are, because the local folks have decided where the disaster assistance centers should be cited -- but how many will there be? And we talked earlier about whether there will be a mobile center, too, to go to the people who may have lost their cars, for example, in the earthquake. And how long will it take people to get checks for their personal needs -- those that lost all sources of income and have to have some money just to live -- how long will it take before those checks will actually be in their hands after they apply?
MR. ANDREWS: With regard to the number of centers and the location of the centers -- our plan right now is that we will open tomorrow 11 or 12 disaster application centers. We're still working on the specific locations because some of the sites that were initially identified we felt were not adequate for the volume that we expect to have at those sites. Some sites there has been some damage to and we do need to be attentive to the safety issues that are involved in those.
What we will do is, through our outreach program, monitor every day both the volume in each of the centers as well as where are the people coming from; and as we go out into the community, try to locate areas where we're not reaching. We will expand the number of disaster application centers as necessary. We will have what we call mobile disaster application centers, which basically go into an area, have the people work and register them and
then move along. And I'll defer to James Lee on the issue of how fast they'll get the checks.
MR. WITT: Dick took the easy part, and now he's going to give me the hard part about the checks. In the fires in California when we responded -- and the Midwest floods -- we actually had some temporary housing checks to the victims in two and a half days. What they're doing -- they're calling in our teleregistration already so we will be able to process checks a lot quicker now. Also, when they come into an application center, sometimes it takes five to seven to eight days. So be patient with us. We've improved the process a great deal. It used to take 10 to 15, 20 days. So we've improved it a great deal by cutting the red tape, and we will continue to do that and get those checks in there very quickly.
But what Secretary Cisneros is going to be doing is going to help very quickly. And he'll be talking about that later.
THE PRESIDENT: Maybe I should wait on this, but I don't know when the appropriate time is. When I was working the crowds today, a lot of children asked me about the schools. There are a lot of -- apparently, there are a whole lot of schools that are affected and the kids are out of school. How long will it take to get any assistance to them, and how does that work?
MAYOR RIORDAN: Sid Thompson's here. Sid, where are you? (Applause.)
MR. THOMPSON: Thank you, Mr. President. Right now we intend to open up the rest of the school system that's south of the valley. But the San Fernando Valley, about 100 schools -- 87 to 100 schools -- are very seriously affected. We have about 200,000 youngsters that will be -- if those schools cannot open or if they remain seriously affected we're going to have trouble getting those young people back in school.
We're going to make some heroic efforts next week to try to get them into anyplace that's open. But that means transporting them and that's -- just transportation alone in and around the Valley, there are 33,000 young people; so it's a huge task. As I see it right now, we will not open the Valley until into next week with perhaps some of them. But the problem in those schools is so serious that some of them may last for weeks, even months, in terms of getting them back on line totally.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Shirley, maybe you could close this section with brief remarks on the cooperation between the various governmental agencies.
Shirley Mattingly, who is in charge of emergency services for the city of L.A.
MS. MATTINGLY: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Mr. President, as you know, on Monday Los Angeles expected to enjoy the holiday celebrating the Martin Luther King birthday and instead we awoke to a jolt. For the first time in the city's history, the entire city went black, totally without power due to damage to the power distribution and intertying services.
The emergency response phase has already been described. The coordination was extraordinary among the various agencies . Police, sheriff, fire -- at the local level -- all reacted and responded according to plans.
As you know, in California, earthquakes, fires and floods are no strangers to this area. In the past two years, we've had five presidentially-declared disasters. We've tried to learn from these experiences and apply those lessons through cooperative
planning, training and exercising. With the assistance of James Lee, we have the best relationships with FEMA and the other federal agencies that we have ever had in this city. Working with state, Dick Andrews, for instance, the Urban Search and Rescue Program saved many lives. That's a FEMA-sponsored program that was developed through the vision of Dick Andrews and others at the state and at the federal level.
Now we look to larger problems and we're all going to have to continue to work together. The lion's share of the work still remains. But through the leadership of Mayor Riordan and Chief Williams of the Emergency Operations Board of the city, the leadership of the Governor and his Office of Emergency Services, and James Lee, we will continue to work together and conquer this disaster. Thank you.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thank you very much.
The next segment is on the status of water and power. Mr. President, for the first time in the history of Los Angeles, we lost power throughout ever part of the city after the earthquake. We are now back to over 90 percent return of power. It's costing more because we've had to use other sources to bypass the major power lines. Water has been a problem; our chlorination, filtration facilities in part of the city have been destroyed or damaged. Gradually we're getting them back. There are small part of city who are without water and power at this time and we're doing everything in our power to restore that.
We all know that there are long-term and short-term solutions to returning our water and power systems. Also natural gas explosions have ripped through several neighborhoods causing destruction, such as the neighborhood you visited today, Mr. President.
I will now call on Dan Waters, who is the head of the Department of Water and Power, to talk about the efforts of the city in restoring water and power. Dan?
MR. WATERS: Mr. Mayor, Mr. President, Governor. At the present time from the water situation, we have approximately 40,000 of our 700,000 water customers that are not getting water service. When the earthquaked occurred, three of the four aquaducts serving the Los Angeles are were severed. We have adequate reservoir capacity within the city for seven to 10 days, except in the North San Fernando Valley. We hope to have two of the three severed aquaducts operating by sometime tomorrow. That will allow us to begin to move water into the north and west San Fernando Valley where almost all of the 40,000 customers who do not have water are located.
As we move that water west, we are going to find more ruptures both in our major pipelines and in our smaller pipelines in the streets. So we are basically notifying people that they have to anticipate that they might be without water for as much as three or four more days because we will not be able to identify the specific problems until we begin to move water into the areas. But we know today that we have some 3,000 to 4,000 different breaks in the distribution system that have already been reported to us.
We are getting assistance from a neighboring utilities: Long Beach Water Department, for example, is now maintaining our system in the south Los Angeles area -- just our normal maintenance, and we're concentrating all of our crews in the San Fernando Valley.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thank you, Dan, very much.
I might comment -- I'll reiterate what James Lee Witt said, is we thank FEMA for supplying us with over one million gallons
of extra water a day. And I'd also like to thank the various supermarket chains like Food For Less, Ralph's and others who have also -- and Lucky is mentioned -- who have supplied us with drinking water for the various parks.
I'd like to now just call on, for briefly, to have Tom Sayles discuss the gas situation. Tom is a Senior Vice President at Southern California Gas Company.
If Tom's not here, Dan why don't you mention --
MR. WATERS: As I understand the gas situation, they only have a few thousand customers at this time that are without gas, and they indicated to us as they are receiving notifications of the areas that are without gas they have the forces to move into those areas and restore services. I do not have an estimate from them as to when they will restore all service, but I would assume, in some areas that have severe damage in the streets, that they also are going to be a number of days, if not a week, before they can restore all service.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Mr. Antonovich, would you like to make a remark? I caution everybody to make the remarks very brief because we have a lot of territory to go over.
MR. ANTONOVICH: Mr. President, we're sorry that on the map that you see part of the area that has been devastated by the earthquake, Santa Clarita Valley, which has over 200,000 people, are land-locked. The Antelope Valley, which has over 200,000 people as well, is land-locked. The freeway is down. They need transportation. The National Guard is now bringing in water for the people, but they need a FEMA office out there to help assist them with their applications because it's virtually impossible to come down below into the Basin.
So our question is: We need assistance with Department of Transportation to have rail from the Antelope Valley to the Santa Clarita Valley to help, and also to help with the restructuring of that freeway so it's up and running with these people. You're looking over a half a million people that are impacted and need your assistance.
CONGRESSMAN GALLEGLY: Mr. President, thank you very much for coming to California today, and thank you very much for your very positive comments about the people from California.
I have a very serious concern because there seems to be a lot of confusion -- I appreciate the comments Senator Feinstein made relative to Ventura County. One of the largest cities in our country, my hometown of 125,000 people, was eight miles from the epicenter. We have what we are absolutely convinced will be in excess of a billion dollars in damage. We have over 1,000 people homeless in shelters, not to mention those that are sleeping in the streets in tents and parks and so on and so forth.
As of this morning, the White House and FEMA advised us that we were not formally declared as a disaster, which does not qualify us for FEMA headquarters. We desperately need two headquarters, one in the city of Simi Valley and one in the city of Filmore. And we need it now, Mr. President.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thank you very much.
Mr. Witt, would you like to comment on Mr. Antonivich's request for a FEMA office? The FEMA office, will there be one up in --
MR. ANTONOVICH: My understanding is, yes, it was, and certainly it was -- Ventura County was declared as a state of disaster by Governor Wilson, and it was included in the request that we forwarded to the federal government.
DIRECTOR WITT: I talked to my office this morning and it has -- Ventura County has been included in the disaster declaration, I promise you. Yes, sir, it's okay.
MR. ANTONOVICH: Also, I would add that Orange County, initially the request was only from the city of Anaheim. We've expanded that to Orange County. The Governor's agreed to it and I've talked to James Lee about it -- Orange County will come in on the same disaster declaration.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Gentlemen, could you be very brief, because we're not going to be cover all our areas otherwise.
SPEAKER: My question is -- my concern is there are many people out there. I have friends of mine, I hear from the city of Los Angeles, from your office, Mr. Mayor. There are 3,000 people that are permanently homeless. I think that's a very, very, very low estimate. I think these people out there -- I've walked the streets, I've walked the parks. A friend of mine owns 500 units of apartment buildings. He's been declared completely out of business. Those people are out in the streets; they have no place to live.
Where are those shelters coming from? When are we going to have them? And I know there's got to be -- like Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer said -- there's got to be 20,000 people out there. We need shelters. Where is it coming from?
MAYOR RIORDAN: Okay, you have just made my introduction for me on the next segment, which is on housing and shelter. So I'll immediately turn it over to Secretary Cisneros to talk about what the federal government has been doing.
SECRETARY CISNEROS: Than you very much, Mr. Mayor. Mr. President, Mayor, Governor, Senators and Mr. Panetta, I'd like you to look at a little briefing document there because it spells out the specifics of what we've been working on. It's a joint product that involves the state, city and the federal government in looking at the things that we can do together.
The first category of people are people whose homes have been destroyed; they have no place to go back to. And we have seen those in recent days. They're in the parks and they will tell you they have no place to go. Some of those people are in the parks now. At a minimum, we can make their life better while they're there which means toilets and water and security. And we must collaborate between FEMA, the Red Cross and everyone else who can work on getting those staples and essentials. The Mayor was out last night, saw the need for water, asked for it, got it quickly; but obviously this must be a temporary answer -- that people remain in the parks.
Shelters is another piece of the answer. We can add more shelters, and we must. That means opening shelters in churches, in recreation centers, in school gyms and other places. FEMA has the capacity to do that and is committed to do it, and the Red Cross is committed to do it. We just have to unleash the additional shelters.
And, finally, there are people who are doubled up. And we will learn about the full magnitude of people who are in trouble as they begin to tell us. And, frankly, it seems to me, Mr. President, from what I've seen that the cresting of the housing problem is yet ahead of us. There are a lot of people who don't know -- it's just difficult to see and as you watch television and get around the area, one sees more and more the extent of the housing
problem. I think it's probably going to be after we solve the distribution of water, the most pressing human problem that we're going to have; and my guess is -- to respond to the needs of people whose homes are destroyed, we have two principal money responses. One of them is 18 months worth of rent that people get in cash, which FEMA can extend and will extend as soon as the disaster assistance centers are open at 1:00 P.M. tomorrow. They can do it by telephone. We need to enhance those lines; as you said, Senator, the lines are crowded. But the point is people can get 18 months of cash for housing.
The other thing that we've never done before -- never tried it before --
Q Does that include renters?
SECRETARY CISNEROS: Yes, absolutely, renters, absolutely -- people who need a place to stay.
The other thing we've never tried before is we are going to make available the most precious program we have at HUD, which is the Section 8 voucher program so that people can take that voucher and get housing. We know we can do 3,000 vouchers and we're prepared to make them available tomorrow afternoon when the centers open. With a little work -- and we'll need Leon's help on this -- with a little work of shifting five-year vouchers to one- or two-year vouchers, we can make that 10,000 or more vouchers. We need to interpret some regulations and so forth to get those down, and then we'll give people a year or two years' worth of housing and come up with 10,000 plus vouchers that we can distribute right away. (Applause.)
Now, this is not going to be uncontroversial. It will be somewhat controversial because the waiting lists for Section 8 are very long and people will say, well, shouldn't we work on the waiting lists that already exist. But if we all agree the priority is to deal with people who were hit by the earthquake and who are in need now, then I think we can do this; and it will be the quickest way to take care of 10,000 plus people and give them stability for a year's worth of housing or more. So that's our answer to the category of people, housing destroyed.
The next category of folks is people whose homes or apartments have been damaged. They're out right now because either the places are in need of a lot of work before they go back, or two, they're just frightened. The damage isn't structural, but they see the difference between the ceiling line and the wall and they can see daylight through there and they're afraid that the next aftershock is going to bring it down, and a lot of the people who in the parks are in that state of mind. I have talked to them and we're going to have to work in inspectors, which the city is doing a good job of, and then persuading of people who we can in good conscience say, you can go home.
Beyond that, we've got to come up with money for repair. So we have focused on making money available for rehabilitation and if you'll turn the page, under Item 3 that I have listed on you sheet there, the principal instrument we will use is the community development block grant program, which the President knows well because you used it as Governor.
What we intend to do is the following, and this is all designed to expedite and accelerate. Los Angeles is due $83 million in 1994 CDBG money; Los Angeles County, $37 million; Ventura County, about $3 million; Santa Monica, $1.5 million, and so forth. What we'd like to do is take money that was going to be coming March or April and bring the checks Friday of this week, and say this is your CDBG allocation for this year. We will change the definition this
year so that where it is usually targeted only in selected, preselected target areas, the earthquake ravaged areas will be designated CDBG eligible immediately, and the money can be spent immediately. (Applause.) So it's a substantial amount of money.
To the State of California's $34 million that would come immediately, we have another program called the Home Program which is smaller, about half as large or so as CDBG and we can do the same thing with that. We'll make the home money available immediately.
Now again, I look to Leon because what we'll have to do in the supplemental is make these communities whole for the money that we are accelerating to them so that they can spend it on the earthquake because you can't leave the rest of Los Angeles unattended in 1994, and what we need do is get a similar amount of money and apply it to the regular Los Angeles priorities but we will have spent what we need to immediately on the earthquake. And the intent is literally got the staff coming out on an airplane this afternoon to make those checks available on Friday, day after tomorrow, to the local governments so that they can start spending.
And the CDBG can be spent for housing repairs, clearance of debris, damaged roadways, extra security, demolition, reconstruction of water and sewer, and, very importantly, Mr. President -- and this is something we collaborate with FEMA -- this is the only sum of money that becomes local the moment you receive it. So you can use it as the match for FEMA funds, and leverage it up by using it as the match, Senator Feinstein, to get the local match for FEMA monies out of CDBG. It's what we did in the Midwest and it really works. Because the CDBG money becomes local money immediately.
Q Section 8 voucher?
MAYOR RIORDAN: The question is where do people get their Section 8 voucher.
SECRETARY CISNEROS: The Section 8 vouchers will be available at the disaster assistance centers. We'll have HUD people sitting at the same desks as that FEMA people when they open the centers tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eleven different disaster assistance centers.
Finally, Mr. President, with respect to housing response, a couple of other quick things in the -- they're major, but I'll cover them quickly. FHA insurance for disaster victims, we have a program that will give people up to 100 percent financing for purchasing a new principal residence -- 100 percent financing. It's a loan program, but it's 100 percent financing insured through FHA for a new principal residence, as well as a program called 203 to make loans to support the repair of damaged -- and we'll have FHA people in the disaster assistance centers as well to explain those kinds of loans programs.
Finally, we have a program called Section 108. It's an economic development program designed to make business loans. And the way it's calculated, a community has eligibility five times as much as their CDBG allocation. And the collateral for it is future CDBG revenues.
It's rare that a community ever has to use their CDBG, but it's the way you can leverage to loans. That would mean Los Angeles would be eligible for $350 million immediately of loans to business. And, for example, the kinds of things I saw in Northridge where building facades are down for business and glass is broken and merchandise has been destroyed, businesses could apply -- Mayor, you're familiar with it because you and Congressman Waters recently teamed up for a $60-million allocation of this program. We're
suggesting we could use some $350 million immediately for the City of Los Angeles. And, of course, Santa Monica, Glendale, Burbank, Ventura County, and others are eligible for the same program
Finally, two quick logistical items: We will enhance HUD's senior staffing presence in the Los Angeles area. I'm designating Mr. Frank Wing, who is my senior advisor and right hand in the Department, to come out here and stay at a minimum a month, as much as 90 days, to help oversee the response and make sure these things happen.
And Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., we'll be having a special earthquake workshop for local housing and development officials on these subjects at the Balboa Recreation Center, 17015 Burbank Boulevard, in the affected area, so that we can literally have on hand the CDBG checks and other briefings on the specifics that I've outlined today. It's the best effort we can make to make sure that we can actually put money in people's hands within the next 24 to 48 hours. (Applause.)
MAYOR RIORDAN: I'd appreciate it if the people standing on the peripheries would not have private conversations because it makes it difficult to hear -- even if you think you're whispering.
I'm going to call on a few people now, but you have to make it brief or we're not going to be able to finish our other segments. Senator Torres?
SENATOR TORRES: Mr. President, on behalf of the faculty associated here, we thank you for coming. What you've outlined today is incredibly important because all of us have been visiting those shelters. But we need that information in an easily read statement. We can be your disciples out there spreading the gospel about shelter and support, but we can't do it until we have the facts in front of us. We're feverishly taking notes but it's impossible. If we can have one fact sheet in every political office, we can field the questions for us, make life easier for you.
If we can put it in other languages -- we know we have Farsi in the Valley, we have Spanish, Chinese, et cetera -- and south of the Santa Monica Freeway as well -- English. But it's important to get that information to us. And I think we'll lose it, all the benefits you're giving us, unless we can communicate it to the people in our areas: city councilmen, supervisors, legislators. Thanks.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thanks, Art. Mayor Judy Abdul, of Santa Monica.
MAYOR ABDUL: Thank you. Mr. President, I want you to keep in mind that Los Angeles is the generic term for where the problem is, but that Santa Monica -- I know you weren't able to visit us today -- Santa Monica has enormous amount of damage that is not being talked about in the press. And my concern is that the money that is coming through these programs that is based on what our normal amount of block grant might be or other forms of funds will not be in the right proportion to the amount of damage and the amount of pain that's going on in our city. And probably, this is true in other smaller cities. And I hope that as these efforts are being coordinated that you will remember that the smaller cities are going to need a different way of getting the formula worked through.
SECRETARY CISNEROS: Madam Mayor, what I have described is our attempt to get money in folks' hands and the day after, so we go with what's in the pipeline. But if this holds true, and it will, to what we did in Florida and in the Midwest, then we will design a formula for the supplemental money that the President referred to earlier that is based on damage and need as opposed to population and the other factors that CDBG is regularly based on. So when we put
the supplemental formula together it will be on the basis of need. What we're trying to do right now is just get what we have and are authorized to spend out so you can do something with it; and that's the plan.
THE PRESIDENT: I just want to echo that, if I might. I just asked Mr. Panetta to come down here to talk about it. Right now, all we can do is put out this emergency relief and programs that already exist; that is, until Congress acts, that's all we can do. So you'll get something now and if it turns out to be inadequate, then when we put the supplemental appropriation together, it will be based on a showing of need by community. It will be irrespective of size or allocation or anything else. So when that program goes through, all you have to do is make sure that we got the right evidence and then we'll be able to proceed on that basis.
MAYOR ABDUL: Thank you. That will be very helpful. I just want you to know that we have 1,000 units that have been destroyed in Santa Monica.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Jackie Goldberg, Councilwoman from Hollywood.
COUNCILWOMAN GOLDBERG: Yes, thank you. We have some immediate needs and I would like to know if maybe there's something we can do about them, which is storage places for people who are out on the street with all of their belongings. They have everything they own; they're in parking lots -- in Hollywood we don't have parks, so they're in parking lots and they're on the front sidewalks with everything they own, and we've got no place to put them. They won't got to shelters until their materials are secured. And if we don't get their materials secured, we can't get them into shelters. So we hope that we can get some attention to the storage needs of people.
And also, I just want to make a plug for those people south of the Santa Monica mountains -- Hollywood was very, very heavily hit. Senator Boxer, there are 3,000, 4,000 people in my district alone on the street every night. And that's in Hollywood, which people don't know has been damaged badly. Inglewood was hit hard; there are other places and we hope that you'll understand we're very, very supportive of our neighbors in the San Fernando Valley; but we are very, very concerned that you understand that a lot of very poor people in substandard housing to begin with were wiped out Monday morning and we need to make sure they get into some housing. We want to make a plea for FEMA staffing to speak many languages, for forms to be simple and printed in more than one language. Our offices are willing to help you. We need you to direct us on how we can be effective.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thank you, Jackie.
I'm going to end this segment by asking Jackie Tatum, head of the rec and parks, to say a brief word; and also Gary Squires, head of housing. But Jackie -- the other thing that I think Jackie Goldberg just mentioned is that I think with the help of James Lee Witt and other people, we have identified a lot of the problems in our parks. We've corrected them and we're going to get better every day. But Jackie Goldberg also mentions that there are areas of the city without parks, where the people who had to move out of their apartments are living on parking lots and things like that; and we need to help them also.
MS. TATUM: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Mr. President, honored guests, it's our pleasure to welcome the A-team and I must say that we are addressing all the problems that you have mentioned. We're looking forward to the corporate world to come to our rescue also; to be of assistance in providing shelters and resources. We
had 20,000 people in our parks last night. And I must say that Secretary Cisneros, as soon as he got in town, contacted me and made his services available, and we will be meeting this Friday and moving forward; and thanks for making this a national concern. We appreciate it. Thank you.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thank you, Jackie. Gary Squires.
MR. SQUIRES: Thank you, Mayor. I want to report that the accelerated spending is really going to make a difference. We need the supplemental, though. It's enormous damage as we all know. What the challenge before us is matching those apartment units that are currently vacant with the tenants that need the help. The vacancies are there, we just need to make that connection. And to the extent to which FEMA can accelerate processing, we can make those connections, and we're here to help. Thank you.
MAYOR RIORDAN: I'm sorry. Now, at this time, I'd like to ask the head of the County Board of Supervisors Yvonne Burke if she would comment on what the county has been doing to help on mutual aid and to coordinate the efforts of the various governmental agencies. Yvonne.
MS. BURKE: Well, first I think we should call on the Sheriff, who coordinates the whole mutual emergency program; and it worked. We had immediate response. We had every department of the County of Los Angeles for the nine million people covered from that department. The Sheriff made people available to the city and to every city that needed it -- building inspectors, deputies. But I do think that we should have the Sheriff, who is the coordinator of the entire mutual emergency, respond to some of those questions. Then I'd like to say something about the courts, the health centers and the hospitals that we do hope that we can get some assistance because they took the brunt of the -- they served hundreds of thousands of people in various ways.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Sharon, if we can call on you in the next segment on safety, I'd appreciate that.
SPEAKER: Let me just then -- if that's the case, let me just say this. I do think we do have to think of a large region. It was a regional problem, and the courts are opening up. They aren't open yet because many of those courts are damaged. We have institutions, correctional institutions that had no power that we had problems there. So -- not to mention the hospitals. So we're going to have to be having a coordinated effort, and the mayor's been wonderful. It's just that the larger problem is going to have to also be addressed. Thank you very much.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thank you. I'd like to finish this segment by calling on Leon Panetta to talk about the supplemental appropriations. I'd like to recognize also Vicki Howard, the county chair of -- the board of supervisors of Ventura County.
MS. HOWARD: Thank you very much. Mr. President, all those on the dais, I'm very grateful to have this opportunity to speak representing the board of supervisors of the county of Ventura. We have suffered over a billion dollars of damage. We still have not had an opportunity to fully assess the damage that we have there. We are off your map, but believe me, we are in trouble. We need your help.
We need to have two FEMA offices open tomorrow -- one in Filmore and one in Simi Valley. We urge you to help us with this. We have people who are in desperate straits just as they are in Los Angeles County. It is regional. The line that divides our counties does not divide this disaster. We are suffering from the big "double e" disaster -- economic and earthquake. Thank you, Mr. President.
On a personal note, my mother, who was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, sends you greetings. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY PANETTA: Mr. Mayor, let me just say first of all as a Californian, my heart goes out to everyone here facing this challenge. As Barbara pointed out, my district was the epicenter for the Loma Prieta earthquakes. So I know what you're going through, and I know the challenge that you're facing. Please work together as partners. We have to work together -- state, federal, local government working together to meet this challenge. And you're doing an excellent job starting it on the right note. So I encourage you to do that.
Let me just say that right now, in terms of the federal response, we have $ 2.5 billion that's in place now to handle immediate responses -- by FEMA, by HUD, by the other agencies that need to respond pursuant to the emergency requests. We have $2.5 billion in place. The supplemental is really intended to cover the additional costs. And that depends a lot on the cost estimates. So the best thing that we can do, and I talked to the Governor on this and to Dick Andrews and others, is to get the best estimates available so that when Congress does convene, we can introduce a supplemental. We may have to update that supplemental as we get additional information. But that's the place to focus on for the additional assistance.
But I want to assure everyone here, that as far as the federal government is concerned in terms of the immediate response, we have sufficient funds to cover that, and we will. Please do --let me just indicate to the public -- please keep your receipts when you go to the DAC -- just a little note of caution here. When you go to the DAC, any expenses that you've incurred, any damage that you've paid for, please keep those receipts, bring them to the DAC because that's important in terms of completing the paperwork. That's going to be necessary for people.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thank you, Leon. The next subject is public safety. We have just completed our second night of curfew. We changed it from dusk to dawn, 11:00 p.m. to dawn last night. We've had only about 80 percent, or rather we've had an 80 percent drop in crime since the earthquake. And I think it shows how people really are observing and caring about each other. All the fires were under control by noon the day of the earthquake. Almost all of them are out by now. Building inspections are continuing. They need to be completed as soon as possible. We have bilingual inspectors, including those who have been offered under the mutual aid by the state.
And, Mr. President, the big challenge is that many people, their nerves frayed by the aftershock, feel safer outside, even if their homes are not technically safe.
Chief Williams, Chief Manning, the LAPD and the L.A. Fire Department have done an outstanding job in many ways and under very difficult circumstances. I'd like now to call on our great Chief of Police Willie Williams, who is the chairman of Emergency Operations Board and whose department has done an incredibly good job. (Applause.)
CHIEF WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Mayor, and other guests here. As chairman of the Emergency Operations Board, I'm going to very quickly echo what's already been said. The city government, the state government, the federal government and the tens of thousands of citizens of this city all came together starting at about 4:32 a.m. Monday morning to start the rebuilding process. The city has just about completed our analysis of what went wrong and are already in the rebuilding and recovery. From the Emergency
Operations Board Center, there was no egos involved. There was just the dedication to get the work done; and we're doing that.
Law enforcement side -- we don't like to see disasters hit our city to see a drop in crime, but I believe the way the police department, the sheriffs, the other law enforcement agencies from the other cities through our mutual aid, bringing in the National Guard to work fixed patrols, we were able to send a signal to all the community in the city of Los Angeles, as well as the surrounding areas, that this disaster would not be an opportunity for people to take advantage of this city and this county the way it occurred two years ago.
Also, very significantly, the people of the community came together. They sat outside, they patrolled their own streets. They would not allow people to take advantage of themselves, as well. So I believe that through discussions with the Mayor, that the issue of the curfew can probably be resolved and put aside in the next day or so that we can get back to normal.
Long-term, we're still going to need public safety resources for the city. We're going to need health and human service and education resources for the city. We heard our school superintendent indicate that it's going to be next week or the week after before some of our schools get back in service. And we're going to have to find a place and something for those tens of thousands of children to do. But the Emergency Operation Board is up and running. It will be in place 24 hours a day, we will be meeting seven days a week; and the city of Los Angeles is going to continue to lead the United States of America in being number one in emergency preparedness. Thank you. (Applause.)
MAYOR RIORDAN: I'd next like to call on L.A. County Sheriff Sherman Block.
SHERIFF BLOCK: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Mr. President, I think it's essential to understand that in California, there is in place a mutual aid system that provides for an orderly progression of the assignment of resources to deal with emergencies. In this incident, for example, the Los Angeles Police Department had their resources assisted by first resources from the Sheriff's Department. We then called upon other law enforcement resources within the county. It then progressed to the National Guard, who responded -- believe it or not -- within 10 hours. We had almost 800 National Guardsmen mobilized and in place in Los Angeles County to assist with the appropriate needs.
But I would caution one thing -- that while we are dealing with this disaster and most of us are very personally involved -- Chief Williams and I are both without water at our homes, for example. But most of the men and women who are out there dealing with the emergency response are also victims of this earthquake. Many of them and their families have suffered some very significant devastation. But their first priority is do their job and to assist the community with the obligations that they have undertaken when they assume their position -- while I would also suggest, there's a forecast of heavy rains this weekend.
On top of the earthquake victims, we still have Altadena and Malibu areas which were devastated by the fires and may suffer tremendous damage from earthslides and flooding if the rains come. So the last victims should not be forgotten in place of the current victims. Thank you.
MAYOR RIORDAN: We're starting to run out of time and we have some major projects. I'll call on Kathleen Brown, but if you could make it very brief, Kathleen.
MS. BROWN: I'll be very brief. First, thank you, Mr. President; thank you, Mr. Mayor, Governors, Senators, all that you've done to help us in this crisis.
I just want to bring to your attention hearing from Supervisor Burke and others, and seeing for myself the damage to public buildings -- we do have a $3 million earthquake safety and public facilities bond act, which based upon the legal counsel investigation on my staff, could be made available for local facilities. I'm prepared to sell those bonds as soon as we can get with the administration, with local officials to ensure that we can move them forward. You have to identify the projects, I'll sell them, move them forward.
Secondly, with respect to the FEMA loans, I pledge my office's support to work with you for bridge financing. As we understand it from earlier emergencies, of which we've had no short supply, that you have borrowers who have been qualified for FEMA loans. There's been a delay in getting the money out. It may be you've speeded that up but we stand ready at the state level through the sale of commercial paper, we can be a bridge financing agency for you and would look forward to working with you.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thank you Kathleen. Now, I'd like to get into transportation because in the interim short run, the most important subject. It's one that requires tremendous intelligence and coordination and we don't have anybody better to talk about it then Secretary Pena, Secretary of Transportation. (Applause.)
SECRETARY PENA: Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. Mr. President, you have stated publicly a number of time how important the California economy is to our country. We have now learned that fundamental to the economy of southern California is the transportation system.
I have map of the entire region, and let me ask the Federal Highway Administrator to help me point out a couple of facts just to put this in perspective -- Rodney Slater. If you look at Interstate 5, that corridor alone carries over 200,000 people a day, and in addition to that, carries important products for exportation from California. If you look I-10, that is perhaps the busies highway in the country with over 300,000 people moving every day. The map indicates with the yellow flags, the nine major areas -- you visited one this afternoon, 118 -- those are the major bottlenecks in the entire region.
Let me tell you, first of all, what we have done, and secondly what our strategy is to move forward -- what we have done. The day of the earthquake, with the close cooperation of Federal Highways and the State Department of Transportation, we immediately approved emergency contracts to get the demolition work going immediately. I don't believe that has ever happened to any emergency of this kind. And as a result of that, in almost every one of key disaster areas, we have crews that are working now demolishing the infrastructure --
SECRETARY PENA: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Demolishing the infrastructure, picking up the rubble and clearing the area. That is absolutely critical. The good news is that not only were the contractors that quickly and I congratulate the Governor for ensuring that happened, but they are telling us that in many of those locations we might be able to clear up the area within five, six, seven days. So that's happening immediately.
Today, we are going to also approve another $15 million to continue the emergency contracts to facilitate that clean-up, get those areas cleaned up as quickly as possible.
Second point: We have through Federal Transit Administration, there was a question asked earlier about transportation north into the Antelope Valley, etc. yesterday we got five rail cars to be added to Metrolink through the work of Amtrak. There has been a request for more rail cars. We are prepared to do that -- as many as 10 or 15. Mr. President, we estimate that assuming we can get that area opened up quickly, we might only be able to handle half of the 200,000 who come down that area daily. Which means we have to pick up probably another 100,000 people through alternatives forms of transportation -- Metrorail and others.
Thirdly, on airports. Federal Aviation Administration, David Hindson was here -- all the airports are fine. Coast Guard cleaned up oil spills; Federal Rail was here helping with inspections of track. That afternoon, we flew over the entire area with Congressmen Manetta -- might want to thank him again for taking the time to come from San Jose to be here, and Senator Boxer -- we saw the entire area, and then we landed at two sites and did a physical inspection.
So that's what's happened immediately. Now, where do we go from here? We have essentially two tasks: One is to move as quickly as possible to clear up the -- to demolish the structures, clear up the debris and clear that out; and then secondly, to begin the rebuilding process and simultaneously to provide people options for moving around the entire metropolitan area. Those are our two tasks.
Let me tell you how we're going to go about doing it. First of all, we are going to cut red tape. Mr. President, you were out today and you asked the right question and that is, how can we rebuild these areas in a time frame shorter than one year. We had a very good meeting this morning with the Mayor, with the state highway people and others, and we believe we can shorten that process.
Give you a couple of examples: Number one, by eliminating the need to go through the Transportation Improvement Program process, because all we're doing here is essentially rebuilding current infrastructure. We don't have to redesign or move it. It's very simple replacement.
And secondly, and very importantly, using creative procurement processes. For example, negotiating bids as opposed to competitive bids. There are a number of creative ways that we can use to ensure that those contracts go out quickly, the work proceeds quickly, and we're committed to doing that.
In the area of transit, one idea that has been proposed to us and we're prepared to support is the construction of temporary transit facilities in the northern area for Metrorail. The idea was to have five or six temporary stations. We think we can do that very quickly and somewhat cheaply to provide access for people.
In addition to that, a request has been made for additional buses. The preliminary estimate is that we probably need 160 to 180 buses. We believe we can provide financing to help lease those buses very quickly. And lastly is operating assistance for MTA, we think we can do.
On top of all that, we think it's important and the Mayor has already taken the lead here with his very professional staff, to reach out to the entire community and to the business community to encourage people to think about other forms of transportation, because this challenge is going to be with us for six months or more. And in that process we've got to all think differently about how we move about.
Number one, the Mayor has already created an operation to provide ride sharing information to people, encouraging people to van pool. We're going to work very closely with Jim Lance from the air pollution division. He already has a list of all those operations throughout the entire area.
Secondly, using new traffic management systems. For example, HOV lanes, better signalization, directional shifts in some of the arterials so we can move traffic very quickly while we're doing the reconstruction -- all that we're committed to move on.
And thirdly, encouraging the private sector to begin to do things like have a four-day work week, staggered working hours, all of that, which, again, the city is going to provide leadership on, to give that information out to the private sector.
In addition to that, we're going to provide more support to Caltrans to continue to use creative contracting procedures and we are also involved in bringing water to the area. This morning the Mayor and I agreed that we would find -- and we are able to do this -- additional tank cars to bring in much water from outside the area. It will be here in a few days, as a supplement to the water that's already going out now.
And, lastly, on the part of the Coast Guard, we're providing the Coast Guard planes to provide transportation for emergency equipment to be brought in very quickly. So if we can do those two things, Mr. President -- clear, demolish, remove and reconstruct quickly and then provide alternative forms of transportation for people -- I believe we'll be able to respond to this disaster very efficiently and very quickly.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thank you --
THE PRESIDENT: Wait, what did she say?
SPEAKER: Is it possible to get the water in up to Santa Clarita, where people are isolated?
SECRETARY PENA: I can tell you that the National Guard at this moment is transporting water tankers into Santa Clarita Valley.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Okay, very good. Now, we've got to be very brief now. Senator Dianne Watson, I call on you.
SENATOR WATSON: Transportation -- we ought to run all the east and west streets one way in the morning and one way in the evening because of the freeway going down; TACs, south of the Santa Monica Freeway. Health care has not been mentioned. We've got a lot of hospital beds down in the south area. Maybe FEMA or some other agency can supply the helicopters to bring patients down into the hospitals in the south central area that have space.
And the other thing is at Kaiser, we have a parking structure that is down. We have a lot of needs in the South Central areas. We don't want you to miss that. So transportation one way in the morning, one way in the evening; and give us some helicopters to get patients down to where there are beds.
Thank you, Mr. President for your health reform, and we're going to be implementing a program here in California.
MAYOR RIORDAN: We've got to move along so the President can get back at a decent hour. The next we're going to talk about rebuilding-recovery, and I'd like to call on the head of the SBA, Erskine Bowles.
ADMINISTRATOR BOWLES: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. The SBA is the federal agency that provides all disaster loans. And I want you to know, Mr. Mayor, that we are prepared and we will give good customer service to the victims of this disaster. We have 40 people currently in the teleregistration centers right now, and these people will have multilingual ability.
Secondly, we have 107 people already on the ground right here in Los Angeles. We are up and running in the disaster field office in Pasadena, and we will be side by side with James Lee's people and with Frederico's people and with Henry's people and with disaster assistance centers. Based on our experience in the Midwest floods, we have also been able to cut our forms by 50 percent so that it will be much easier for those who have been victimized by this disaster to gain loans through the SBA. We should be able to make home loans within seven days of receipt of a completed application and within no more than 20 days for business. Actually, in the Midwest floods, we were actually able to do it in an average of 12 days.
Thanks to the President, we also have funds immediately available to meet the needs of the victims of this earthquake. There are three separate loan programs we have available at the SBA. The first program is for homeowners. We have a program to lend funds to homeowners and also to renters to repair or replace damaged property -- that's real property or personal property. These loans for real property can be up to $100,000 and for personal property up to $20,000.
We also have a program for businesses that have physical damage. This program is for businesses of all sizes, not just small businesses -- is to repair and replace damaged property. And it's for real estate, machinery and equipment, and for inventory. And we can make loans in this category of up to $1.5 million.
We also have for small business economic injury loans which is for working capital to assist these small businesses through the disaster recovery period. Again, these loans can be made up to $1.5 million. If a business is a major employer here in the area, we do have the ability to lift the $1.5 million statutory cap.
The loans carry a very low interest rate -- an interest rate for homeowners for as low as 3 5/8 percent and for businesses, as low as 4 percent. These loans also have a maturity of up to 30 years for those businesses and homes that cannot gain credit elsewhere. We structure each one of these loans based on the borrower's ability to repay. So we work with each individual borrower to make sure that we match the loan commitment we make to them with their ability to repay the loan. So if someone needs more time, we can spread out the loan maturity.
Again, Mr. President and Mr. Mayor, the SBA is ready. We are prepared. We will be here until the job is done. -- who is our associate administrator for disaster, will be here. Our regional administrator is here on the ground, and our area disaster regional administrator is also here. We are ready to go to work.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Thank you very much, Erskine. I think the one key factor that I think everybody is interested in is that we are going to have one-stop shopping at the FEMA at the 11 offices of FEMA that will include SBA, the other federal programs in housing and other things. And with that, I'll ask -- before I call on the President to talk, I will ask our insurance commissioner to very briefly commit the state to including their insurance help or claims in the FEMA offices.
JOHN GERMAND: Mr.President, Mayor, Governor, the insurance available in California that they have purchased clearly is
not going to cover the losses sustained by private homeowners, by businesses. We will, however, make every effort possible to see that there will be the full recovery possible under the contracts.
Now, it is imperative that the state get back on its feet. And to do so, we're going to need the state and federal help, the kind of discussion that we had here and it's going to have to go well beyond the normal emergency services. We're going to need major federal dollars to help us. But what you have not heard here today, and what I want you to know Californians believe deeply, is that we are prepared to sacrifice and we are, as Californians, prepared to pay for a good part of what needs to be done here. We do, however, need your commitment at the federal level as you have already made.
And I want you to understand that whatever it takes, we are going to rebuild our state. Specifically, it would be helpful to have an expansion of the loan programs that were just described. And later on down the line -- I hope before you leave office as President -- there will be national disaster insurance program. We have our earthquakes, we have our fires in California. They have the hurricanes, ice storms and tornadoes in the rest of the nation. We all suffer together and we must all insure ourselves together.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.
MAYOR RIORDAN: Mr. President, before I ask you to close, I'd like to reiterate again how impressed we are with the caliber of the leaders you have in your government, with the serious coordinated efforts that have been made. We're very proud to work with you and we'd love to have you wrap up this meeting.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first, Mayor, let me thank you for hosting the meeting and for inviting me out. I was sitting -- I actually got quite a number of good ideas today. I'm not sure the best idea didn't come from Art Torres when he said we needed to give every elected official a fact sheet on all these programs in all the appropriate languages, because then all of you can go out and strengthen your own position by making sure that it works. And I think that's important, that's a great idea.
The second thing I'd like to do is just thank you for the kind words you said about all the people that are here that came from the federal government. As I was looking there from my Federal Highway Administrator, Mr. Slater, to my Budget Director, Mr. Panetta, to James Lee Witt to Secretary Pena, Secretary Cisneros, Mr. Bowles and down to David on the end, starting with David Barran and looking around the other table, these people have something very unusual in federal officials -- they actually had years of experience in the fields in which they're working before I appointed them to the jobs that they hold. (Applause.) It makes a huge difference, and I hope it turns out to be a precedent in the future.
Let me just say one other thing. Every month when the economic reports come in at the White House, and I see that interest rates are down, investments up, home mortgage delinquencies were at a 19-year low the month before last, and all these jobs have been created in the country, I ask everybody the same question: When is this going to start affecting California? And the thing that worried me most about the earthquake, beyond the terrible human tragedies involved, was the prospect this might delay what we were beginning to see, which is the economic recovery beginning to take hold in California.
Now, one of three things can happen now. This earthquake can make your situation worse; it can have no impact; or it can actually make it better. And you're going to have to decide. We have a couple of responsibilities in that regard at the national level. The first thing we've got to do is to get this money out in a hurry.
Now, we'll work with you on that, both the emergency money and that which comes in the supplemental. That will have a positive economic impact which at least will partially offset the negative things which have occurred in the short run.
The second thing we have to do is to make sure that structurally nothing happens. For example, I though what Senator Watson said about looking at the different road routes was an interesting thing. You have got to figure out how to make sure you don't lose a single job on this.
And as Rodney Slater pointed out to me earlier, you also ship a lot of produce and other products out of California on the highways. And we can't help that. And you can't do that by mass transit. They're still going to have to get on a truck and go. So you have to figure that out. And whatever we're supposed to do to help you do that, we've got to do.
The third thing I want to say is, we will do whatever we can that is legally possible working with Chairman Manetta here to accelerate the funds and to reduce the bureaucratic burdens of moving on this highway construction. But I would urge you, as we talked at the site today, to consider things like seven-day work weeks, 24 hour a day construction where the neighbors will permit it. Things that will actually put more people from southern California to work.
If you build these roads quicker than you normally would, you will by definition, have to hire more people than you normally would in a short period of time which could actually give you a little bit of economic boost when you desperately need it. So we will try to help you, but I want you to come up with a plan to tell us how you want to do it. (Applause.)
Thank you very much.
END3:34 P.M. PST