Florida Senators Urge Ben Carson to Move Quickly on Hurricane Michael Aid for Panhandle

    With President Donald Trump announcing additional aid to the Panhandle and other areas which were impacted by recent disasters earlier this week in Panama City, Florida’s two U.S. senators are urging U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sec. Ben Carson to move quickly. The Panhandle was severely damaged in October when Hurricane Michael hit the area.

    Florida’s two U.S. senators–U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., joined senators from Texas, the Carolinas and Georgia in writing Carson on Thursday, urging him “to swiftly publish, in the Federal Register, the rules that will allow states affected by 2018 disasters to receive Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) assistance.”

    Florida is penciled in to receive $448 million in CDBG-DR funding.

    “Northwest Florida’s residents are resilient, but they have waited nearly seven months for critical disaster funding,” Rubio said on Thursday. “Last night, President Trump announced that HUD would take action to allow Florida, and other states affected by 2018 disasters, to receive additional funding. Today, I am urging HUD Secretary Ben Carson to take this action without delay in order to deliver this much needed aid to disaster stricken communities as quickly as possible.”

    The senators sent Carson the following letter:

    Last evening, President Trump announced allocations of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding for 2018 natural disasters. We appreciate the administration’s efforts as our communities continue to struggle to recover.

    Under the allocations, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas are scheduled to receive funding that will make a lasting impact on our cities, counties and communities. As you know, these are communities that have been resilient in the face of natural disasters, but require the assistance of our Federal Government.

    When Congress passed, and the President signed into law, legislation that would serve as an initial response to Hurricane Florence, no one expected that a Category 5 hurricane would make landfall in Florida’s Panhandle just a few days after. Now, more than seven months later, it is time to publish, in the Federal Register, the rules that will allow states to take the next step to receive the allocated CDBG-DR funds. We fully realize the massive undertaking that is required of your department, but respectfully request this next step be taken without delay.

    We also understand that your department is not the final authorization of such CDBG-DR funds being distributed, and commit our support and assistance in getting the regulations into the Federal Register. We thank you for your tireless work in responding to the needs of our states, and look forward to delivering this much needed aid to disaster stricken communities.

    Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.

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