U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), Chairman of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, today held a roundtable entitled, “Rising After Disaster: Improvements and Continuing Challenges.

Chairman Vitter, along with representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross, and others, discussed disaster protection and recovery improvements over the past decade, what continuing challenges local, state, and federal officials still face, and what recommendations can be made to Congress for continued improvements regarding disaster loan programs, economic recovery, agency coordination, assistance delivery efficiency, and related topics.

“As the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, I would like to take this opportunity to remember the tens of thousands of families impacted. The lives lost, exorbitant amount of money spent, and lasting impacts still felt today are highlighted here today as the foundation for discussing ways to mitigate these losses in the future and to implement strategies for addressing recovery that get our lives back in order as soon as possible following a disaster,” said Vitter. “I witnessed firsthand after Hurricane Katrina both the endearing strength of our communities and the devastating failures of our government in delivering recovery assistance. While businesses came together, willing and able to deliver vital relief, they were turned down by the bureaucracy of government agencies. That is why we are here today – to identify remaining challenges and figure out what needs further oversight and legislative action to make sure that small businesses aren’t left without support after major disasters.”

Roundtable participants included:

• Mr. James Rivera, Associate Administrator, Office of Disaster Assistance, Small Business Administration (SBA)
• Ms. Gerilee Bennett, Deputy Director, National Disaster Recovery Planning Division, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
• Mr. Russ Paulsen, Executive Director, Office of Community Preparedness and Resilience, American Red Cross
• Mr. William B. Shear, Director, Financial Markets & Community Investment, Government Accountability Office (GAO)
• Ms. Andrea Deadwyler, Director, Credit Programs Group - Audit Division, SBA Office of the Inspector General
• Mr. C.E. “Tee” Rowe, President & CEO, America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

Earlier this year, Vitter introduced and passed out of Committee the RISE After Disaster Act, which would help small businesses to recover and adapt more quickly after a major disaster. Click here to read more.