(Extensions of Remarks - February 06, 2017)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E145]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                        HON. SHEILA JACKSON LEE

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                        Monday, February 6, 2017

  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 588, Securing 
Access to Networks in Disaster Act, which requires the Federal 
Communications Commission to submit to Congress and publish on the FCC 
website a study on the public safety benefits, technical feasibility, 
and cost of providing the public with access to 9-1-1 services during 
times of emergency when mobile service is unavailable.
  As a senior member of the Homeland Security Committee, I am well 
aware of the importance of telephone service during disasters.
  The Securing Access to Networks in Disasters (SANDy) Act seeks to 
ensure the resiliency of the nation's communications networks during 
  Acquiring cellphone service during a massive natural or manmade 
disaster is often difficult, if not impossible, and this is why this 
piece of legislation is so essential.
  During the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that destroyed the 
World Trade Center in New York City, cellphone service was severely 
disrupted, forcing many callers to repeatedly dial to get through to 9-
1-1 emergency services.
  On that day, some of the most tragic, heart wrenching calls came from 
those trapped in the Twin Towers.
  It is not only during terrorist attacks that cellphone services are 
severely disrupted, but also natural disasters such as Hurricane 
Katrina, which claimed the lives of over 1,800 people.
  The SANDy Act would ensure that during an emergency, consumers' cell 
phones work on other carriers' networks if a consumer's own network 
goes down.
  H.R. 588 would give priority to calls to 9-1-1 services and emergency 
  It also would increase coordination between wireless carriers, 
utilities, and public safety officials by creating a directory of the 
contact information for relevant disaster response officials.
  The bill would require the FCC to report to Congress regarding 
whether additional outage data should be provided in times of 
  In addition, the bill requires the FCC to report to Congress on the 
viability of providing 9-1-1 services over Wi-Fi hotspots during 
  H.R. 588 would be of immense benefit to the 18th Congressional 
District and the greater Houston area.
  On April 17-18, 2016, Houston experienced a historic flood event that 
claimed the lives of eight people, damaged over 1,150 households, 
disrupted hundreds of businesses, closed community centers, schools, 
and places of worship due to flood waters.
  On April 25, President Obama granted the request for federal 
Individual Assistance for Harris County residences and business owners 
who were affected by severe weather and flooding.
  Unfortunately, that was not the end of the story of flooding in 
Houston for 2016--in early June another record setting rainfall led to 
catastrophic flooding throughout the Houston area.
  I am grateful to President Obama and the great work of those at the 
Department of Homeland Security who worked tirelessly to help people 
after both 2016 flood events.
  I spoke on the House Floor several times about the Floods and the 
suffering caused by the waters that came through our communities--
damaging homes, our schools, places of business, and our places of 
  The flooding problems in the Houston area are frequent, widespread, 
and severe, with projects to reduce flood risks in place that are 
valued at several billion dollars.
  In 2015, the Houston and surrounding area experienced widespread 
historic flooding.
  The importance of being able to contact emergency responders in the 
case of natural disasters is critical in order to save the lives of 
those directly affected by such events.
  The SANDy Act would provide telecommunication access to victims of 
natural and man-made disasters.
  The SANDy Act amends the Stafford Act to ensure that all 
communications providers:
  1. Have the ability to access relevant disaster stricken areas during 
emergencies to restore service; and
  2. Are included in the universal credentialing program for essential 
service providers
  The SANDy Act would recognize the critical role that all 
communications providers--broadcasters, cable, and telecommunications--
serve in emergencies, but most notably, the bill would ensure consumers 
have access to wireless service even if their cellphone service 
provider's wireless network goes down.
  I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H.R. 588, the Securing 
Access to Networks in Disaster Act.