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2005-01-11-Tsunami-Feingold & Feinstein 

Harrison Weblog

2005 blog

Feinstein and Feingold

Keeping up on Jewish officeholders

Feingold and Feinstein focus
on tsunami aid, preparedness,  Jan. 11, 2005

U.S. Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) has urged the General Accounting Office to conduct an investigation into how well the West Coast of the United States is prepared to withstand the effects of a tsunomi.

Meanwhile, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) has lauded quick action by Congress and President George W. Bush to encourage contributions to U.S. relief organizations helping the victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami in South Asia. The President and Congress enacted legislation enabling contributions given through January 31 for this purpose deductible on 2004 federal income taxes.

In a letter to David Walker, the comptroller general of the United States, Feinstein said tsunami preparedness on the U.S. west Coast "is of particular importance to me as California has historically been susceptible to tsunamis. Since 1800, at least 14 tsunamis with waves six-feet or higher have struck the coast of California, several of which inflicted major destruction. In 1964, an Alaskan tsunami with waves reaching 20 feet struck the coast of California near Crescent City causing $7.5 million in damages and eleven deaths. Three tsunamis also flooded Santa Barbara during the early 1800s, including one in 1812 that caused widespread devastation."

The California senator posed a series of eleven questions to Walker:

• What is the general risk of large-scale tsunamis to the coastal areas of the Western United States including California? 

•Is the current NOAA warning system adequately able to alert the coastal areas of the Western United States about a large-scale tsunami?

•In particular, is the current NOAA warning system effectively able to warn against the threat of 
near-shore tsunamis? 

•What areas specifically along the coast of the western United States are most vulnerable to 

•Are local governments in these most-threatened areas currently prepared to deal with a tsunami? 

•What mitigation measures have been undertaken by both state and local authorities in the coastal 
areas of the Western United States to address a tsunami threat? 

•Do local communities in these areas have a plan to alert residents once they receive a warning from the NOAA? 

•Do states and local communities have adequate evacuation plans in place to respond to an incoming 

•Should tsunami preparedness plans be prioritized to protect ports and essential infrastructure 
along the coast? 

•How prepared are states and local communities to respond to localized tsunamis caused by landslides and submarine slides? 

•In what areas can technology be better employed to decrease the threat of tsunamis?" 

Feinstein's memo to Walker added: "In addition to evaluating the readiness of coastal areas along the western United States to respond to a large-scale tsunami threat, I would ask that the GAO provide recommendations for improving preparedness and mitigation efforts at the national, state, and local levels in this region." 

Meanwhile, Senator Feingold of Wisconsin noted that "since this terrible natural disaster took the lives and destroyed the homes of so many late last year (Dec. 26), Americans have once again shown their overwhelming generosity by making private donations for  tsunami relief effort."

Although the income tax break is "a modest step, this new bill rewards and encourages that generosity, which is a cornerstone of the American spirit," Feingold said.

He noted that under U.S. law, Americans can deduct charitable donations to charities in foreign countries on their income tax forms if a U.S. organization has full control over the funds. 

Donald H. Harrison