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ABOUT THE HOME DEPOTThe Home Depot is the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer. At the end of the third quarter, the company operated a total of 2,317 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 10 Canadian provinces and Mexico, including 14 stores in the U.S. from a small acquisition completed during the second quarter of fiscal 2021. The Company employs approximately 500,000 associates. The Home Depot's stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: HD) and is included in the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index.

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Press Briefing by FEMA Director David PaulisonFiling CenterCoral Gables, Florida11:15 A.M. EDTDIRECTOR PAULISON: Good afternoon. Hot enough for you? It's myhome, and even living here my whole life, it's still sometimes tough toget used to the heat. And without that ocean breeze, it would be kindof unbearable.Let me just do a couple things. Let me walk through how we gotwhere we are and what we've been doing inside of FEMA ,and then justopen up the questions.And you can't hurt my feelings, you can'tembarrass me, I'm way beyond that. So you can ask whatever you thinkyou need to ask.When I was asked by the President to come in and step in and takeover FEMA, first as an acting and then as a permanent position, I neededa couple things. Probably the most important thing I needed was thefull support of the President, and I've gotten that. Not only have Igotten the support of the President, but also Fran Townsend, theHomeland Security Advisor to the President, and not just support, buttheir personal involvement. And that has helped me tremendously ingetting things moving and getting things on the road. So I need to saythat right up front.First thing I did was to step back and look at what didn't work inKatrina, what things went wrong, what things worked okay but we couldhave done a lot better. And there were several significant things thatI saw, based on my experience of handling disasters, what I saw simplydidn't work.The first and foremost was communications. There was a majorbreakdown in communications between the local government and the stategovernment, a breakdown between the state government and the federalgovernment, and then, quite frankly, a breakdown of communication insidethe federal government itself between agencies. If you're going to runan operation, that type of communication system simply will not work.So we went back and looked at how we're going to put this together.We based it primarily on the National Response Plan -- we're going tofocus on having a unified command system. And that will go through ourjoint field office that you guys are familiar with. And everybody hasbought into it. We've had exercises at the Assistant Secretary level,the Deputy Secretary, and even with the Secretaries in the White House.And everyone understands that have to be on the same page. As we do our12R planning blocks, we all have to be there together doing it, sharinginformation and making sure that we're all -- have the same informationand are responding in the same way.The second piece of that was not having the right equipment.Didn't have the enough satellite equipment, didn't have videocapability, didn't have those communication things that, quite frankly,you have at your fingertips that we didn't have. So we purchased a lotof that equipment. But the most important piece of it is a processwe're going to use to share information.The second thing I looked at was logistics, and that's having theright things at the right place at the right time. We didn't do that.We didn't have enough equipment, didn't have the ability to get it whereit needed to be. So what we've -- what we've gone out and done ispurchased a tremendous amount of supplies that we normally carry -- thefood, water, ice, blue tarps, medicine, all those types of things thatwe normally give out during a storm. And in some cases, we'vequadrupled them. And I can give you all the exact figures, but just oneexample I would use, we had 160 tractor trailer loads of MREs prior toHurricane Katrina, and now we have almost 800 tractor trailer loads.And on top of that, we've signed a memorandum of understanding withthe Defense Logistics Agency, which is the military's arm for logisticsand support. They are going to be our backup.They'll be movingsupplies into our warehouses as we are moving stuff out. Now, it's nota bottomless pit. But at the same time, we have enough stuff in stockalready to feed a million people for a week. And with a back-up of thatwith the Defense Logistics Agency, that's going to give us supportbehind us we never had before.The other thing is the ability to track our tractor trailers. Oncethey left the warehouse, we didn't really know where they were. We'vehad instances where truck drivers just went home and spent the weekendat home instead of going down to the disaster site. We had drivers whogot lost. We had drivers who went to the wrong place, and we didn'tknow where they were.I purchased 20,000 GPS units. We're putting one on every tractortrailer that comes out of our warehouses so we know exactly where it isat any given minute of the day. We get pinged every 15 minutes. Andit's accurate right down to the very street corner where that trailer isgoing to sit. So we can give the states a very good heads-up of wheretheir supplies are, how soon before they get there, and we can tell themexactly where it is at that time. And we can tell when it arrives. Wehad a couple instances during Rita, actually, where our supplies hadarrived at a staging point, but the local mayor didn't know they werethere, and he was on the television complaining he had no supplies, andthey were around the corner behind the building. So now we know exactlywhere they are. That's going to help us. That's a tremendous businesstool for us to use.The other piece was the situation awareness. A lot of things weregoing on. We were dependent on the media to get a lot of ourinformation, which is not bad, but we should be able to get a lot ofinformation on our own. So we purchased satellite equipment where wecan do video streaming, live video streaming back, so we'll have abetter handle on what's happening if you have another Super Dome, oranother Convention Center, or another levee issue where you can seereal-time exactly what's happening. Those are some of the things thatwe're putting in place to make the system work a lot better.The other was victim registration. We ended up with people prettymuch -- not pretty much -- we ended up with people in every state inthis country. All 50 states had people that came out of Katrina. Wedidn't know where they were, we didn't know who they were, and we didn'tknow what their needs were. What we are going to do for this comingyear is we're going to preposition people in the congregate shelters --we're working with the Red Cross and with states to identify those aheadof time -- put people in those shelters so we can register people asthey come into those congregate shelters. So we know where they are, weknow who they are, and we know what their needs are, based on how theyregister with us. That's going to help us significantly being able totrack people and making sure they get the support that they need beforethey can get back in their homes.We also saw that a lot of people could not come to where we wereregistering people, simply did not have the capability of getting frompoint A to point B. I've taken five of our command posts, mobilecommand posts, which are like big motor homes.We've staffed those andwe put 20 laptop computers and 20 cell phones on those things toactually go where people are. And we can either give them a cell phoneand say, here, call the 1-800 621-FEMA number and register, or we cansit down with them on the laptop and do it over the website to be ableto do that.We've also increased the capacity to be able to register people. Ithink during hurricane -- four hurricanes in Florida, we ended upregistering, like, 25,000 people a day, which was a new record. DuringKatrina, we ended up registering 100,000 people a day, which was a newrecord. And we've put the capability, and we can register up to 200,000people a day, so people won't get that busy signal every time they call.They'll be able to talk to somebody to get registered.And that's goingto help them a lot.So that's going to help us locating people, getting themregistered, making sure we find out what needs are, have enough suppliesin place and have the communications in place to be able to do what weneed to do.The other thing that I came across is the debris removal. In thedebris removal piece, which is one of the biggest things we have to do-- we work with the local communities -- is we were reimbursingcommunities differently if they used the Corps as opposed to if theyused their own private contractors, and that didn't make sense to me.So we've changed that.So regardless of who you use, whether you usedthe Corps or a private contractor, we will reimburse you at the samerate.And also, we want to give them much more flexibility, want to givethe local communities the opportunity to put those debris contracts inahead of time, or encourage them to do that. We've put a debrisregistry in our website, and right now we have 250 debris contractorslisted on there. We have the size of the contractor, how many trucksthey have, what work they've done before, who they've worked for. Sothe communities can choose one of those 250, or they can do their own.And we're going to continually add more as we go through there. We wantto give the local communities as much flexibility as possible as we gothrough the next storm.I guess the last piece I want to talk about before we do questionsis accountability, waste, abuse, and fraud. We had a lot of peopleabuse the system. When we did our expedited assistance program, we weregiving out $2,000 to people, and for the most part, they were people whowere plucked off the rooftops, simply didn't have a shirt on their back,had no identification, had no access to their bank records, and wepassed those dollars out. But a lot of people took advantage of that,and now you've seen all the reports, like I have, where some people haveapplied dozens of times, some people did not live in the affected area.And so we want to stop that.We've hired an identity verification company to check IDs so we canidentify are you who you say you are, and did you live where you saidyou lived. That's going to stop a tremendous amount of the fraud.We've also cut back the amount of money we're going to give outinitially. The expedited assistance program is something that FEMA veryrarely uses. I think in the last 30 years we've probably only used itless than half-a-dozen times. But every time we've used it it's been asignificant issue.We're going to do the initial tranche of money, it will be $500 tofamilies. And hopefully, they can get back in their homes within acouple days of getting over that hump, if we have to do that. And if wehave to go back and do more, then we can go back and do more. Butinstead of putting $2,000 in somebody's hands, we found out a lot of thetimes the dollars were not spent where they needed to be spent, or wherethey should have been spent. So we're trying to put some controls onit.We don't want to -- I think you need to hear this very carefully.This is still going to be a very, very compassionate organization, butwe have to put some financial controls in to make sure we don't have thewaste, fraud and abuse that we had last time.Those are the things we're doing for this hurricane season. Wehave a lot of long-term things we have to work on. It took FEMA 30years to get in this shape and it's not something you're going to fix ina few months. But what we can do, what we can very clearly do is putthe things in place that we saw that did not work in Hurricane Katrina,and put those in place so we'll be in better shape this next hurricaneseason, to respond much more quickly. FEMA has got to be a more agile,a more flexible organization than it has been in the past, and that'swhat we want it to be.That's kind of where we're at.Any questions?Yes, sir.Q Do you plan on watching Spike Lee's documentary about Katrina,and do you know if the President plans on watching it?DIRECTOR PAULISON: I don't know. I haven't seen it and --Q It hasn't been released yet --DIRECTOR PAULISON: I have not seen it.Q I was asking if you plan on watching it.DIRECTOR PAULISON: I probably would, yes, if I'm not doinghurricane stuff. (Laughter.) If we get too deep into hurricane season,sometimes your days just go away. But anything -- first, I'm takingthis very seriously and I'm not taking it personally. We're taking allthe reports that come out of Congress, out of the House, out of Senateside, out of the White House, from the GAO -- they've done I don't knowhow many -- we've got IG reports, and we're taking all this veryseriously, and just going through them line by line by line.It is a pretty consistent theme through them, and it's pretty muchthe things that I talked about. And so anything that -- anybody does areport like that I want to have access to -- you know, did we missanything, is there something we can do better.We want to make -- Iwant to make this country proud of FEMA again.I think we can do that.We've got good people.You need to hear that.These people are workingliterally seven days a week for the last, almost two years, and theywant to make this organization better also. My job is to give them theright tools so they can do it.They're willing to do it; I just have togive them the right tools.Q You said at the outset that you had the personal commitment ofthe President.Can you talk to us about the last time prior to todaythat you spoke with the President about this issue, and what was the --DIRECTOR PAULISON: Friday.Q Were you in Washington?DIRECTOR PAULISON: I was in Washington. We brief the President ona regular basis on what we're doing, not only briefing on FEMA, butparticularly what we're doing in New Orleans and Louisiana. And theentire Cabinet was there, and we had the -- my Deputy and I had theopportunity, along with Secretary Chertoff to brief the President. Andwe do this on a regular basis.He gets very personally involved, asks alot of questions and really holds us to task to make sure we're headedin the right direction. So I'm very pleased with --Q What did he ask you at that briefing?DIRECTOR PAULISON: Pardon? Well, anytime we bring something up --like one of the things I talked about was the chain of command and howwe're going to share information. And he wants to make sure that thatinformation flow is going to move like it should move and not end uplike we did with Katrina last year, with some people knowing somethingand others not, and not being able to get on the same page.He asked a lot of questions about that, how that system is going towork. He's asked a lot of questions about the evacuation planning,about sheltering, about transportation of people who don't have thecapability of moving themselves, about special needs. He is veryengaged in this and very knowledgeable. I was, frankly, very pleasantlysurprised -- or pleased with the amount of knowledge he has on how thissystem works and how it should work.Q And presumably, that was in preparation for this visit. Whenwas the last time before that?DIRECTOR PAULISON: That was not in preparation for this visit.That's our -- we have a regular meeting we have set up. And they happensometimes every two weeks, sometimes every four weeks where we keep himup to speed. We get tasked to connect-- we come out of there with what we're supposed to report on next weekand what he expects us to have accomplished by the time we come back toreport to him.So what I'm saying it's a regularly scheduled meetingthat we do to keep him up to speed on what we're doing.Q Can you explain then why the President didn't seem to knowtoday when the hurricane season was?DIRECTOR PAULISON: I didn't get that.I'm sure he knows it's fromJune to December.Q He said it ends in September when we were at the hurricanecenter, and he had to be corrected that it goes until mid-October, theysaid.DIRECTOR PAULISON: I think you may not have heard the wholeconversation. What Max Mayfield was showing is that between thisparticular date and the end of September is when we have 80 percent ofour hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from June 1 until November 31st(sic).But last year, remember, we had hurricanes all the way intoJanuary. So, although hurricane season is six months, 80 percent of ourhurricanes come within that three-month block between now and probablythe middle of October, I guess, if I saw that chart right. Yes, that'swhat Max was trying to show him, that it's been pretty slow this year sofar, but this is the very beginning of our busy season traditionallywith hurricanes. And I'm born and raised in Miami so I'm kind of usedto that, when we start ducking.Q Have you looked at diminishing the use of no-bid contracts?There's been a few cases where you had some reports at least ofcorruption around that or mishandling of funds. Do they really savethat much time that they're worth sticking with?DIRECTOR PAULISON: Well, if you're talking about the fourcontracts that I took over that were no-bid, my understanding wasthey're in the process of bidding. I'm not a fan of no-bid contracts.There are occasions when you either truly have a sole source, which isseldom, or you didn't put a contract in place that you didn't thinkabout -- something you need in a disaster. Those are the only two timesI think we should be using no-bid contracts.What we're doing -- and maybe I should have covered it sooner -- iswe are doing contracts ahead of time so we've got them on the shelf, soif we need something we've already got a contract in place. And youdon't have to go out for a no-bid contract. And when you do that --because you oftentimes don't get a contract written to where you wantit, you may not get the product you want, and you may not get theaccountability you want. So I like to do those things ahead of time.Q Could you talk about how the states responded to you guyssaying that you were only going to pick up 25 percent of the cost thistime around?DIRECTOR PAULISON: Are you talking with the expedited assistance?Q Yes, correct.DIRECTOR PAULISON: The issue with that is that the only place thatwe have to -- we have legally at our disposal for this type ofassistance comes out of what we call other needs assistance. And thestate is required to pick up 25 percent of it.These are their residents. So, I mean, it's not something I'mimposing on the state, it's something I don't have any flexibility with.That's where these dollars -- and that's congressionally mandated thatunder that particular piece of it, the state picks up 25 percent of it.Again, it's something we don't normally use unless it's something that'scatastrophic, like we saw in Katrina.Q Is that what you say is being reduced, though, from $2,000 to$500?DIRECTOR PAULISON: Right. And normally, over the history of FEMA,it's been $300 to $500 we've given out. Katrina was an exception; wegave out $2,000. And that proved to have some issues with it.We thinkwe can -- by doing better identity verification, and by just putting themoney out in smaller chunks that we can deal with.Q So you're scaling it back to $500?DIRECTOR PAULISON; That's correct, yes. And again, we can go back-- if it's going to be -- if they're going to be in a congregate shelterlonger than we expect, we can go back and give them another $500 if wewant to.Q And that money is supposed to be used for --DIRECTOR PAULISON: That money is used for if they need clothes orfood or anything like that, personal items. It's for people who end upin a shelter.Let me talk about personal preparedness after I answer thisquest


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