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Mr. CLEAVER. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to offer an amendment to bolster the Army Corps of Engineers' ability to fight floods and to quickly begin repair efforts as the floodwaters recede. Last year, my constituents, as well as thousands of others living along the Missouri River, experienced a flood of historic proportions and catastrophic damages. Levees were overtopped or breached, fields were damaged, and hundreds of farmers, homeowners, and businesses had to evacuate. Over 400,000 acres of farmland were flooded along the river, including approximately 207,000 in Missouri. Total repair costs from the flood are estimated to reach $2 billion.
The Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies account provides funding to assist in the immediate flood-fighting efforts and the repairs. Historically, Congress has provided limited funding annually for this account, mainly relying on supplemental appropriations as emergencies arise.
Funding for this account the last 2 years has been lower than the 5-year average appropriation of $55 million. As was the case last year, after an emergency the Corps must wait on supplemental appropriations from Congress or they must transfer funds from existing appropriations for temporary emergency efforts. The Corps did this internal transfer last year during and after the 2011 flood. However, it takes time to transfer those funds and temporarily deprives other worthy projects of funding. This is especially burdensome given the Corps' long construction backlog of over $62 billion worth of projects.
This amendment is a straight transfer of funds to increase funding for the Corps' Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies account and in turn reduce funding for the Corps' expenses account. This transfer would increase the funding to equal the amount that the Senate Appropriations Committee allocated, bringing total funding for that account to $30 million for fiscal year 2013.
Mr. Chairman, ensuring adequate annual funding for emergencies will better prepare the Corps to respond and save time and effort in trying to reroute funds. And we all know that emergencies will continue to occur as our climate continues changing and development continues in flood-prone areas. It is incumbent upon us to provide the people who respond to these emergencies with the most resources possible. And so on behalf of the families living along the Missouri River who are in desperate need of help from this body, I ask for your support by adopting this amendment.
I yield back the balance of my time.
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