‘All disasters are local,’ Maine Guard chief tells Collins’ Senate committee

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With a reminder that all disasters are local, the commander of the Maine National Guard told a U.S. Senate hearing that the ability of governors to direct emergency response plans in their states should be preserved.

Maj. Gen. John Libby, who also serves as commissioner of the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, noted that the initial response to disasters comes at the local level.

“Interagency coordination during the emergency response to national or manmade disasters at state level is inherent in the governor’s constitutional roles and responsibilities,” Libby said.

Libby testified Thursday before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is reviewing disaster preparedness in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking Republican on the committee, said the panel’s investigation revealed a lack of coordination among military headquarters in the early stages of response to Katrina.

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