HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA RECOVERY FACILITATION ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - October 29, 2007)
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Mr. BAKER. I thank the gentleman for yielding time and certainly want to express appreciation to Chairwoman Norton, as well as Chairman Oberstar, for their continuing attention, courtesy and problem-solving for those of us along coastal States suffering yet from the aftermath of storms Katrina and Rita. Particularly, I want to speak to the great work of Congressman Boustany representing his community. As he expressed here this afternoon, the second storm of the season which followed Katrina, Hurricane Rita, was just as devastating to his community, as was Katrina to coastal portions of eastern Louisiana. He has been the singular outspoken voice for the victims of that disaster in seeking relief and remedies that are appropriate.
Madam Speaker, contained in this resolution before us today is a unique resolution, as the Stafford Act never contemplated disasters of the magnitude and scope that affected our State. The duration was unexpected, as well as the intensity of the damage. A few would have thought an inconvenience of a few days for a public facility would be cause for reimbursement from the Stafford Act.
But in this case the damage went on not just for days and not just for weeks but literally for months. And income that was planned for many of these facilities was lost, as well as the operational expense to engage in the relief activities. As well, unfortunately, in the damage that occurred to the facilities as a result of this unusual and prolonged use.
For example, the Lamar Dixon Center on the southern edge of the City of Baton Rouge acted as the staging point for many law enforcement search and rescue efforts which went on for many days. As a result of the sheriff, police, municipal police and others simply engaging in this activity without seeking preclearance, not having a contract with FEMA in order to save people, Lamar Dixon similarly engaged in the care and feeding of literally thousands of those engaged in daily rescue activities.
We were surprised to learn that the Stafford Act provisions would not allow for the reimbursement of these highly appropriate and highly valuable services rendered during the height of the storm.
Today, with the adoption of this bill, we cure these deficiencies. And although I hope such need would never arise in any other community in our country, if it does, these changes are meaningful not only to the people who engage in the service but to the communities who likewise support and help in this most dire of recovery circumstances. I join with my colleague, Mr. Boustany, to support this legislation.
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