From California to Washington, D.C., we all learned the importance of emergency preparedness last week. From the earthquake in D.C., which I missed because I was back home in California, to Hurricane Irene, and the fire in Yosemite; all of these events devastated hundreds of thousands of families and homes and demonstrated the importance of coordination at all levels to save lives.
While in Yosemite last Thursday, I had the honor of remembering the lives of a beloved doctor in the Merced community, Gregory Wayne Meyer, MD and his physician assistant, Richard Fox, who both served as examples of excellence to those in our community. Both men were swept to their deaths while trying to cross a bridge at Wapama Falls, which was swollen by near-record ice melt and an unseasonably late thunder storm.
I also had the privilege of extending my gratitude, and that of Greg's family, to Mark Alee, the California Conservation Corps professional who bravely risked his life trying to save Richard and Greg; Steve Yu, the lead investigator with the National Park Service; Rebecca Lund, the family liaison with the National Park Service; and the many men and women who searched tirelessly for Greg after the accident under extreme conditions. The heroism and strength of character each of these rescuers embody is something we will never forget.
While in Yosemite, I drove through the fire that started that day, witnessing first-hand the devastation the fire has caused to the hundreds of families and homes. While we cannot always predict fires or natural disasters, proper preparedness will save lives, minimize costs, and ensure our response and recovery efforts are coordinated and organized. In a hearing I chaired in July on emergency preparedness, I stressed the importance of increased coordination between all levels of government. This coordination is critical to streamlining emergency response efforts and ensuring common-sense risk assessments for the safety of California's residents.
Each year, FEMA designates the month of September as National Preparedness Month to raise awareness about the importance of being prepared for all disasters and emergencies. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, I am honored to serve as Co-Chair of this year's National Preparedness Month and help turn awareness into education and action within our homes, businesses and communities. The theme for the 2011 National Preparedness Month campaign is This September: A Time to Remember. A Time to Prepare. Visit http://www.ready.gov/ to learn more about the effort and how you can help make this the most successful and coordinated effort to date.
This year, the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, we are honoring the first responders throughout the nation that keep us safe and support the many volunteer opportunities found on http://www.serve.gov/ that help us prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Let this last week's natural disasters remind us once again of the men and women who help keep us safe on a daily basis and thank them for their service. All risk some and some give all, so let's keep them in our thoughts and prayers.
This week I will be back at home in the district and will look forward to seeing many of you. I will be touring Kaplan College on Wednesday to see first-hand the quality education that career-oriented colleges provide. Kaplan enrolls about 850 students each year, and I'm very interested to hear how Kaplan has prepared them for their career search. I will also be at the Stanislaus Medical Society discussing recent developments with health care and Paul Ryan's Path To Prosperity to preserve Medicare for future generations.
For updates throughout the week, be sure to follow me on twitter and like my facebook page. Let your friends know they can sign up to receive this newsletter on my website as well.
I hope to see you in the district this week!