1 in 3 Americans Have Been Affected By Extreme Weather, Which Caused Over $165 Billion In Damages Last Year;
Gillibrand’s Push Would Help New Yorkers Recover And Prepare For The Next Storm
Following catastrophic flooding in the Hudson Valley this summer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a video press conference to announce her new legislative amendments to provide additional disaster relief to the region and improve resiliency in the upcoming spending bills. The legislation would provide funding to rebuild roads, bridges, and public transportation, streamline food assistance in the wake of disasters, and make sure that New York is prepared to respond to future natural disasters.
“Severe weather in recent months has devastated homes and businesses across our state, and I’m determined to make sure New York families have what they need to recover,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This legislation will provide billions in federal funding to help homeowners rebuild, get small business owners back on their feet, and repair public infrastructure. And as severe weather events become more common, it will ensure that we are prepared for future storms by making commonsense reforms to disaster recovery programs to get aid to those in need faster. I’m determined to get these amendments passed.”
Senator Gillibrand is cosponsoring 5 amendments to the upcoming “minibus” appropriations bill:
- General Disaster Relief Funding: This amendment would provide roughly $26 billion in emergency funding for three core federal disaster programs: FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program, and SBA’s disaster loan program. Specifically, the amendment would provide $20 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund, which provides most of the federal government’s support for immediate disaster response; $5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program, which provides for long-term housing and infrastructure needs; and $98 million for the Disaster Loan Assistance Program, which provides direct loans to help businesses, nonprofit organizations, homeowners, and renters repair or replace property damaged or destroyed in a federally declared disaster.
- Reforming Disaster Recovery Act: This amendment would permanently authorize the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program, and make a number of reforms to slash red tape and help release funding to affected communities faster.
- Disaster Relief Funding for Highways, Roads, and Bridges: This amendment would provide $484 million for the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Emergency Relief (ER) program. FHWA’s ER program provides funding to repair and restore roads and bridges that are damaged as a result of a natural disaster. FHWA needs an estimated $1.838 billion to meet the needs of all states and territories, but currently has only $1.355 billion in ER program funds. This amendment would meet the additional need.
- Disaster Relief Funding for Public Transportation: This amendment would provide $100 million in funding for public transit systems affected by major disasters. Agencies would be able to use these funds to cover operating costs of evacuation, rescue operations, temporary public transportation service, or reestablishing, expanding, or relocating service before, during or after an emergency, as well as eligible facility repair and equipment replacement.
- Reducing SNAP Delays for Disaster Survivors: This amendment would require USDA to coordinate with FEMA to reduce delays for disaster survivors to receive food benefit assistance under the Disaster-SNAP (“D-SNAP”) program. After a major disaster, USDA has the authority to permit states to provide temporary food benefits to households that do not typically qualify for food assistance. However, there are frequently delays in getting this approval due to a cumbersome administrative process and lack of data sharing between FEMA and USDA, meaning that assistance takes longer to get to families in need.