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Commissioner Clyburn Remarks at Superstorm Sandy Field Hearing

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Released: February 5, 2013

Prepared Remarks of Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn

FCC Field Hearing on Superstorm Sandy

New York City, New York

February 5, 2013

To our distinguished panelists and to our audience, good morning. Thank you, Regional
Administrator Pease, for your opening remarks, and on behalf of the Federal Communications
Commission I wish to express my gratitude, to the General Services Administration and others
responsible for making it possible to hold this critical forum.
At the FCC, we are afforded the incredible privilege of having a front row seat to some
amazing developments in information technology. And I can say without any doubt that we have
a lot to feel optimistic about when it comes to what the communications industry can
accomplish.
But when we are hit with major weather events like Superstorm Sandy, we are humbled
and reminded that despite all of these great advances, we still, as a nation, remain quite
vulnerable.
Our thoughts and prayers remain with all who suffered the loss of loved ones and the loss
of property during Sandy. I commend the efforts of first responders, as well as ordinary citizens
who demonstrated unprecedented charity towards their neighbors and communities.
I was in Moncks Corner, SC in September of 1999. During Hurricane Hugo, I was
balled-up in a dark corner near other family members who escaped from Charleston, listening to
the first trees I ever loved being broken like toothpicks. I sat in fear as my grandmother’s tin
roofs from the barn, smoke house and parts of the house were being pulled away by what at the
time felt like the huge, heartless hand of a giant.
So while the extent of Sandy’s power and destruction was an unprecedented event for this
region, most of us have felt the tragedy brought by natural disasters firsthand. We may not be
able to prevent them from occurring, but what we can and must do is improve our ability to
respond.
Throughout Sandy, we heard several reports about how federal, state, and local
governments, as well as industry, were engaged in extensive coordination to restore important
services and infrastructure to communities. I understand that the New Jersey Broadcasters’
Association was very instrumental in working with FEMA and the FCC to help broadcast
stations stay on the air. These stations were vital to providing information to communities.
And as communications regulators, we must do all within our power to prepare our wired
and wireless communications networks, 9-1-1 systems, and other infrastructure for future
unexpected events.
I applaud Chairman Genachowski for his hands-on approach and for recognizing and
declaring early on that this Commission would come to New York, New Jersey, and other parts
of the nation to learn about the challenges we face when it comes to the reliability of
communications networks. I look forward to our panelists’ testimonies and recommendations on
these and related policy areas. Thank you.

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