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Bipartisan Bill to Speed Up Post-Disaster Recovery Work

Posted @ Thursday, May 09, 2019    By Jennifer Imo
Posted in [ Blog, Environment and Sustainability, Water and Natural Resources, Flood Issues ] | 0 Comments

On May 8th, North Carolina Congressmen G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) and Mark Meadows (NC-11), along with Texas Members Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) and Ted Olson (TX-22) introduced H.R. 2548, the Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects (HELP) Act. This bipartisan bill would expand eligible pre-award activities under FEMA’s hazard mitigation assistance programs. Under current law, if an applicant for hazard mitigation funds begins work on the project for which its seeks funds, it is immediately disqualified from the application process. This bill would allow the applicant to purchase land and begin work on a project that qualifies for a categorical exclusion under NEPA.

In North Carolina, this issue arose when significant damage occurred during Hurricane Matthew. A TFG client applied for FEMA’s hazard mitigation grant program funds, and wanted to start work on a project before the next hurricane season. However, FEMA took more than one year to inform the applicant that it would not receive federal funds. In that time, the client could have been doing the necessary mitigation work to prepare for the next hurricane – Hurricane Florence. That hurricane hit in September 2018 and mitigation funding decisions are still being made.

See Rep. Fletcher’s press release here.

North Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are introducing the same bill in the Senate.

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