Covering Louisiana

Dec 29, 2012 12:06 PM by KATC

Landrieu: Sandy Supplemental Bill Good for U.S., Louisiana

Senator Mary L. Landrieu today praised passage of legislation that will provide $60.4 billion to help recover from Hurricane Sandy and other disasters in 2012 such as Hurricane Isaac. Areas in Louisiana affected by Hurricane Isaac will greatly benefit from increased funding to FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund, the Corps of Engineers and USDA programs. The legislation also includes critical reforms to federal policies on disaster recovery based on lessons learned after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, including allowing disaster-affected communities in Louisiana to use streamlined procedures for FEMA Public Assistance, and draw down up to 25 percent of its hazard mitigation funding from Hurricane Isaac to expedite mitigation planning and project formulation. Today's bill will help strengthen Louisiana's recovery from Hurricane Isaac, while supporting communities in the Northeast.

"We owe it to everyone affected by a disaster to work together to fully fund a recovery. Today's legislation provides the robust investments needed for a strong recovery, including critical funds for the Corps of Engineers to advance flood protection projects that will benefit communities in Louisiana affected by Hurricane Isaac," Sen. Landrieu said. "Those of us who lived through Hurricanes Rita and Katrina learned painful lessons about the many needless bureaucratic hurdles that communities and families recovering from disasters face. Today's legislation provides necessary tools to help improve federal response to disasters so that survivors of Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac - as well as all disasters - will have a faster and more efficient recovery."

Today's legislation:

Small Businesses
· Enables more Louisiana small businesses to participate in contracting opportunities by increasing the surety bond limit for small business contracts from $2 million to $5 million and reimburses surety companies up to 90 percent of the losses sustained if the contractor defaults.
· Provides $500 million in the SBA Disaster Loan Subsidy account, which ensures that the account will be fully operational and responsive to loan requests in Louisiana if any future disaster strikes.
· Enables Louisiana small businesses applying for SBA disaster business loans of less than $200,000 to utilize assets other than their personal primary residence unless that is their only option. This solves a major problem that existed for our small businesses post-Katrina and Rita.

Homeland Security
· Provides $11.5 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, which will allow FEMA to continue rebuilding efforts resulting from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Isaac, and other disasters. Without this funding, rebuilding efforts would be suspended in March.
· Allows disaster-affected communities in Louisiana to use streamlined procedures for FEMA Public Assistance, including upfront grants on the basis of estimates, consolidation of facilities, and elimination of the penalty on alternate projects.
· Allows Louisiana to draw down up to 25 percent of its hazard mitigation funding from Hurricane Isaac to expedite mitigation planning and project formulation.

Department of Agriculture
· Allows farmers and ranchers to draw from a $15 million relief fund to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters, and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures.
· Allows owners of private, nonindustrial forest land that has been damaged by natural disasters to draw from a $49 million relief fund for land restoration projects.
· Adds $77 million to the Emergency Watershed Protection program, which provides financial and technical assistance to undertake emergency measures to safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion on any watershed as a result of a natural disaster.


Housing
· Allows local governments to draw from $500 million worth of funding dedicated to Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to address unmet needs of impacted areas resulting from a major disaster, or for small, economically distressed areas with a disaster declared in 2011 or 2012.
· Allows Louisiana local governments receiving CDBG funding to create programs that provide grants, loans, and/or technical assistance to small businesses in disaster impacted areas.

Army Corps of Engineers
· General Investigations: Provides $29.5 million to expedite and complete ongoing flood and storm damage reduction studies in areas impacted by Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac in the Corps of Engineers North Atlantic and Mississippi Valley Divisions.

Construction:
o Provides $2.902 billion for flood protection projects to reduce future flood risk in areas impacted by Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac in the Corps of Engineers North Atlantic and Mississippi Valley Divisions.
o Provides $499 million to address damages from previous natural disasters following normal policies and cost sharing.
· O&M: Provides $821 million to dredge Federal navigation channels and repair damage to Corps projects nationwide as a result of natural disasters.
· Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies: Provides $578 million in the Flood Control and Costal Emergencies account to prepare for future floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Interior and Environment
· Provides $150 million in flexible funding for the Office of the Secretary for restoration related to Sandy and other storms and natural disasters, and recovery and mitigation priorities to protect against future storms and natural disasters.
· Amends the Stafford Act to allow Indian Tribal Governments to apply for emergency declarations in the same manner that states are able to apply. This will allow Tribal Governments representing large geographic areas to respond to disasters which may affect Indian communities but not the state in which the tribal lands are located.


Transportation
· Provides Louisiana with $27.5 million in FHWA Emergency Relief funds for repairs related to Hurricane Isaac.


Commerce
· Provides $150 million for 2012 federally declared fisheries disasters.

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