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Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I rise for the purpose of entering into a colloquy with Senator Reed, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, regarding funding for the Department of the Interior included in the disaster assistance supplemental.
Mr. President, my home State of Delaware was unfortunately impacted by Hurricane Sandy, which struck on October 28 and 29 of this year. The damage caused by Hurricane Sandy was widespread in Delaware. Among the areas impacted was Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Sussex County.
Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, established in the 1960s, is an important part of the Eastern migratory flyway and one of the only places in the world where horseshoe crabs come to spawn. It offers world class outdoor recreation and is a key piece of Delaware's tourism industry.
The refuge suffered severe damage during Hurricane Sandy. Breaches in the beach and dune system separating the refuge's marsh units from the Delaware Bay resulted in an ongoing inundation of the refuge by salt water. This has led to the loss of thousands of acres of critical habitat, as well as damage to refuge property and facilities. It severely impacted the health of the freshwater marsh system in the refuge, and the decline of the marsh has in turn led to continuous flooding of nearby farmland and communities, damaging the private property of thousands of people.
I am grateful that the Appropriations Committee had the wisdom to include $150,000,000 for the Office of the Secretary of at the Department of the Interior to fund recovery and restoration activities related to Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters. I would like to ask if the intent of this funding is to support recovery and restoration projects similar to those that will be required in my State to respond to the impacts of Hurricane Sandy?
Mr. REED. The Senator is correct. Coming from a State that received a major disaster declaration due to the damage it sustained in Hurricane Sandy, including damage to the Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, I recognize the importance of providing funding for projects in States impacted by the storm. The funds provided in this bill will be used in support of additional recovery activities directly related to the hurricane or to fund longer-term restoration activities for areas directly affected by Hurricane Sandy. The bill provides flexibility so that the Department can transfer the funds to any of its programs to fund the highest priority needs in these specific disaster areas. I expect these funds to be of great assistance to states like ours which were affected by this devastating storm.
Mr. CARPER. I thank the Senator.
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