Thank you, Chairman Thornberry, Chairman Camp, and Members of
the Committee for the opportunity to testify today before your
My name is Colonel Michael C McDaniel, and I serve as the Assistant
Adjutant General for Homeland Security for the Michigan National
Guard. As such, I serve as the Homeland Security Advisor to Michigan’s
Governor, Jennifer M Granholm.
Based on my understanding of the focus of this committee’s
interests, my narrative of the events of 14-16 August, 2003 will
focus on the interdependencies of our infrastructure, and the
communications between state, local, and federal agencies. I will
some of the issues that surfaced during our response to the blackout,
and potential resolution of them.
On Thursday, August 14, 2003, at approximately 4:15 p.m., a massive
power outage struck the Niagara-Mohawk power grid in the Northeast
US and Ontario causing blackouts from New York to Michigan. Within
minutes, much of southeast Michigan and mid-Michigan was without
power, including the major metropolitan areas of Detroit, Ann Arbor,
Approximately 60 percent of Michigan’s entire population,
or more than 2.2 million households, was affected by the outage,
requiring state agencies and local governments to utilize extensive
emergency protective measures in order to insure their health,
safety and welfare.
Collectively, the State of Michigan and local governments expended
$20.4 million on emergency measures to save lives, protect public
health, and prevent damage to public and private property.
The Emergency Management Division of the Michigan State Police
began to immediately monitor conditions in Lansing and around
the state, including the state’s nuclear power plants. Within
minutes, when it was clear that there was a widespread outage,
the state’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was formally
activated, and state agencies began to monitor state and national
Below, I will briefly outline some of the major complications
from the blackout:
• In much of southeast and mid-Michigan, the lack of electric power
resulted in widespread traffic signals not functioning and limited
telephone communications. Radio and television stations reported
broadcasting difficulties, with several small stations not operating
• Many facilities lacked sufficient alternative energy sources. Portable
generators were needed at hospitals and other public facilities,
including the state mental institution.
• The Fermi II nuclear plant in Monroe County was shut down as a
precaution. It returned to full power production and was reconnected
to the power grid late Thursday, 21 August.
Marathon Refinery, Michigan’s largest refining facility,
lost power and had to shut down. One unit did not shut down properly
and began venting partially processed hydrocarbons. Because of
the tank’s location, the city of Melvindale (with the assistance
of the Michigan State Police) decided to evacuate 30,000 residents
and shut down Interstate 75 for several hours until the situation
was controlled. The Marathon Refinery was inoperable as a result
of the loss of electricity and water, and out of production for
approximately 10 days.
Gas stations were unable to supply peoples’ needs for their
cars and portable generators, as without electricity the pumps
• The auto industry was also directly impacted by the loss of power,
shutting down operations for the majority of three days.
• The Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, the busiest commercial landport
in the United States with 16,000 tractor-trailers crossing daily,
was also affected. Interestingly, both the bridge and U.S. Customs
had their computers interrupted only momentarily until their
back-up systems activated. Canadian customs, however, lost their computer
datalink, and thus their ability to verify trucking manifests
electronically. As a result they were forced to visually and manually inspect
manifests and, if warranted, the freight itself. This resulted
in an approximately four-mile backup of traffic for almost 24
hours on the U.S. side.
• Many computer systems were not functioning, including the Law Enforcement
Information Network (LEIN).
• Metropolitan Detroit Airport was closed and all flights canceled
until midnight on August 14.
The Detroit Board of Water and Sewers, oversight board of the nation’s
second largest water system, reported that its system was not functioning
correctly. It issued a boiled water advisory for its entire service
area. A number of public water issues arose from the blackout.
First, there is a need for generators and for an automatic activation
switches for these generators. Second, much of the system’s
gauges and switches rely on telephone lines, or telemetry, which
is used to receive information on the system’s capabilities.
Last, there was no system to notify all of the customers of the
boiled water advisory, as notification was dependent on the public
media. It became clear, on the morning of August 15, that the
largest problem was the lack of potable water. Public and private
delivered hundreds of thousands of gallons of water to those
affected sites, but a boiled water advisory was not lifted until
The State’s Response
As of 6:00 pm, Governor Granholm and her senior staff had reported
to the state Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The Governor
had been briefed by the Emergency Management Division of the
Michigan State Police (MSP), and all state agency representatives,
and she first advised the citizens of conditions and our efforts
via public media, at approximately 10:00 p.m. The MSP had positioned
50 state troopers on stand-by for mobilization, if needed to
maintain order in blackout areas. Little to no looting was reported,
and crime rates were at or below average. The Michigan National
Guard also had troopers ready on stand-by.
I would note that the Governor spoke with Department of Homeland
(DHS) Secretary Tom Ridge approximately one hour after the blackout
began. As the dimensions of the emergency became clear, the federal
DHS called every hour for briefings.
The State of Michigan has always had a great working relationship
with FEMA Region V, and this working relationship was very evident
during this emergency. Region V had activated their Regional Operating
Center (ROC), and was in close and constant telephone contact.
A FEMA representative was also present and working from the State
EOC, from August 15 onward.
The state of emergency was not rescinded until August 22, 2003.
Emergency Protective Measures Reimbursement
On August 27, 2003 the State applied to FEMA for federal reimbursement
under the Stafford Act for actions taken by local or state
agencies to remove or reduce immediate threats to public health,
welfare, or private property when those measures are used in
the public interest. As of September 15, we have not received
any response from FEMA. This is not an inordinately long period
of time, but Michigan and other states are watching to see
if the placement of FEMA within the Emergency Preparedness
Directorate (EP&R) of DHS will prolong the application process.
I would note that the Undersecretary for EP&R has assured
the state emergency management directors that it will not.
In Michigan, we are monitoring, investigating, or resolving the
(A) Communications between federal and
state agencies. There was full and robust communication between the appropriate
state agencies. DHS and FEMA were in regular, consistent contact
with the State EOC. The State Department of Environmental Quality,
Public Service Commission and National Guard were communicating
with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of
Energy, and the National Guard Bureau, respectively. Two suggestions
for improvement, however, can be made. First, the reports
DHS and FEMA Region V were redundant information. While the “operations
tempo” of the emergency response was such that this was
not a hindrance, this redundancy should be eliminated as the
of federal agencies within DHS is completed. Second, all communication
was by telephone or facsimile machine. Given the intermittent
outages of commercial telephone service elsewhere in the state,
system needs to be instituted that is not reliant on commercial
lines. I would note that there is a wireless system between
FEMA Region V and the State EOC. Perhaps this capability can
(B) Communications between state agencies
and between state and local agencies. Internal communications, both within a state agency
and between employees of the state and a local agency, worked flawlessly.
The State of Michigan, over the last 12 years has spent in excess
of $220 million to create a statewide 800 Mhz digital trunk radio
system. It is the believed to be the largest radio system, in terms
of land mass covered, in the nation that meets APSCO 25 (Association
of Public Safety Communications Officials) standards. This system
provides full interoperability, of course, as all members are on
the same system. There are at the present time 374 different public
agencies which use the Michigan Public Safety Communication System
as their primary radio communications, and another 90 agencies
that use the system for emergency management purposes only. The
member agencies include all state agencies, as well as counties,
townships, tribes, and federal agencies (the FBI, U.S. Customs,
Bureau of ATF and Forest Service). There are currently more than
11,000 radios on the system.
There were no interruptions to the system anywhere during the
blackout because the control center and all antennae have independent
generators. Four of the five counties as well as many municipalities
within those counties in the declared emergency area are now considering
joining the Michigan Public Safety Communications System.
During FY 2003 the DHS administered an equipment grant program
to promote interoperable communications between local governmental
agencies. The states expect to learn the grant recipients and amounts
awarded in the near future. This program, by providing a specific
financial incentive to pursue interoperability, has been well-received
by the States. This program and its results should be monitored
closely and considered for potential expansion.
Because the state had to issue bonds to fund such a large expenditure,
the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has ruled that with state bonds
only 5 percent of the members of the system can be non-state entities,
or, in this case, federal or tribal members. While far less than
5 percent of the radios on the system are used by federal agencies,
true interoperability compels their participation on the system.
We need to find means to encourage federal participation on the
MPSCS, thus consideration should be given to creation of an exception
to the IRS bonding restriction to promote interoperability of communications
between state and non-state agencies.
(C) Interdependent Infrastructure. The above narrative illustrates
the ripple effect of an impact on one sector for the rest of
the nation’s infrastructure. The facilities, systems, and
functions that comprise our critical infrastructures are highly
and complex. We are only now beginning to study the degree that
our systems work together in processes that are highly interdependent.
In one oft-cited example, e-commerce depends on electricity as
well as information and communications. Assuring electric service
requires operational transportation and distribution systems
to guarantee the delivery of fuel necessary to generate power.
interdependencies have developed over time and are the product
of operational processes that have fueled unprecedented efficiency
Given the dynamic nature of the systems, we need not only to model
but also a concerted, joint state/federal effort to identify and
prioritize not just the systems, but their critical components,
their interdependencies, and the state and federal agencies that
both regulate and rely on them. In the past, different state and
federal agencies have inventories and prioritized the critical
infrastructure. This process is ongoing, it is a vital step for
every operational plan for protection and security, and those priority
lists are driving our efforts.
(D) Sufficiency of funds for state Emergency
Operations Centers. Deficiencies in the state Emergency Operations Center become obvious
after spending 36 straight hours there. The FY 2002 Supplemental
Appropriation provided approximately $51 million nationwide specifically
for Emergency Operation Center upgrades and modifications. This
amount is insufficient to properly upgrade the Emergency Operations
Center for every state and territory. For example the State of
Michigan had requested $9.5 million for this purpose, which would
include all design, engineering, construction, and project management
costs for the State EOC, and an alternate EOC in the metro Detroit
area. A decision on the grants is long overdue, particularly considering
that some state, somewhere in the nation, is facing an emergency,
albeit usually natural emergencies, such as floods, fires and hurricanes,
almost every day.