Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Calls for Funds from FEMA

In the hours, days and weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the City of New Orleans, tens of thousands of evacuees headed for the city of Houston, Texas. With very little financial assistance from the federal government the city absorbed the cost of the new citizens.

Those cost have increased and the federal government has yet to respond. That continued lack of assistance moved Houston's Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee to request financial assistance. Saying the administration's response has been "marked by failure, incompetence and cyronism..." the Congresswomen took to the House floor Tuesday to ask for the appropriate financial support " a timely manner."

The press release issued on the request by Jackson Lee's office follows:


Last Thursday House and Senate Conferees finalized an agreement on a long-sought $94.5 billion bill to pay for the war in Iraq and deliver a much-needed infusion of relief to hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast states.

"More than nine months after Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in our nation's history, struck the Gulf Coast, many needs of Katrina survivors still go unmet. Over the last nine months, the Republican response to the Katrina aftermath has been marked by failure, incompetence and cronyism," commented Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

More than nine months after Katrina, 40,000 families are still waiting for a FEMA trailer, only 4% of approved SBA disaster loans have been fully disbursed to survivors, and more than $1 billion in Katrina aid is estimated to have been wasted. Now, the GOP-controlled Congress has made Katrina survivors wait for more than three months for this urgently-needed Katrina aid. Some of the highlights of the Katrina aid that Democrats have fought for include:

$5.2 billion for CDBGs. The conference report includes $5.2 billion for Community Development Block Grants for the Gulf Coast states, to be particularly used for aid to homeowners in rebuilding. Language was included in the conference report that no one state would receive more than $4.2 billion in assistance.

$3.7 billion for levee improvements. The conference report includes $3.7 billion for critically important levee improvements and flood control projects. This includes funding to reinforce or replace floodwalls in the New Orleans metropolitan area, to raise levee heights, provide additional hurricane repairs to flood control structures, and provide coastal restoration to minimize future storm damage.

$400 million for alternative housing for Katrina survivors. The conference report includes $400 million for the establishment of alternative housing pilot programs, which may help displaced Louisianans rebuild at a lower cost and identify more practical housing solutions for future hurricanes.

Assistance to Small Businesses - $542 million.

Businesses in declared disaster areas, including the hurricane-affected areas of the Gulf, are eligible to receive disaster loans within the funding provided to the Small Business Administration.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee today went to the House floor to raise the question of reimbursements to the city of Houston from FEMA. The Congresswoman is working with city leaders to make sure Houston is properly reimbursed in a timely manner.

FEMA's Public Assistance reimbursement program is one way federal assistance gets to the state and local governments and to certain private nonprofit organizations. These reimbursement grants allow them to respond to disasters, to recover from their impact and to mitigate impact from future disasters. While these grants are aimed at governments and organizations - their final goal is to help a community and all its citizens recover from devastating natural disasters.


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