Dan Webster Wants to Speed Up Federal Disaster Recovery for Small and Rural Areas

Last week, U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., threw his support behind a proposal from U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., “to help expedite disaster recovery efforts, particularly in small and rural areas.”

Graves brought out the “Small Project Efficient and Effective Disaster (SPEED) Recovery Act” with the support of Webster and some top Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oreg., who chairs the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who chairs the U.S. House Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee which oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“The Small Project Efficient and Effective Disaster (SPEED) Recovery Act updates the threshold for what qualifies as a ‘small project’ under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (or the Stafford Act). This update will allow more recovery projects to proceed under simplified procedures and in turn streamline the process and paperwork for many projects, reduce administrative burdens, and provide more certainty in the recovery process for communities,” Webster’s office noted.

“Florida is no stranger to hurricanes and extreme weather,” said Webster. “Too often disaster recovery assistance for devastated communities is mired behind reams of bureaucracy and administrative paperwork. This bill streamlines the process to provide Floridians, particularly our rural communities with small projects, with speedier disaster recovery assistance.”

“By far, most disaster recovery projects in the United States are relatively small, and there’s no need to force individuals trying to recover and rebuild to navigate the same procedures as larger, more complex projects,” said Graves. “The SPEED Recovery Act cuts red tape for smaller projects and will speed recovery in many of our communities, especially rural communities, that have been hit by disasters.”

“After disaster strikes, local communities need the federal government to act as a partner in helping them recover and rebuild,” said DeFazio. “This bipartisan legislation will help make sure that FEMA isn’t a hindrance to these efforts and that states, Tribal, territorial, and local governments can be reimbursed more quickly for projects that will help communities get back on their feet.”

The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) and the Big City Emergency Managers (BCEM) are all backing the bill.

The bill was sent to the Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

KEVIN DERBY
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