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Public Statements

Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. VELÁZQUEZ. Madam Chair, I rise to engage the chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee in a colloquy and intend to withdraw my amendment.

Mr. Chairman, Hurricane Sandy has left a lasting impact on New York and its residents. The storm surge engulfed low-lying housing--including the Redhook development in my district--floating basements, common areas, and apartments. These areas remained submerged for days, cutting off essential services. After the water receded, toxic mold spread quickly in damaged areas.

Mold and mildew infestation can pose serious health risks if not addressed in a timely manner. If left untreated, residents and workers are at risk of developing respiratory illnesses or infection. Without providing emergency funding specifically for this purpose, there is serious concern among city residents that calls for more remediation will go unanswered.

Mr. Chairman, I hope that going forward we can work together to ensure that the final bill addresses mold contamination in public housing.

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Ms. VELÁZQUEZ. I'm very grateful to the chairman.

The success of our response to this tragedy hinges on helping residents rehabilitate the structures they call home.

It is essential that the resources necessary to provide secure housing for New Yorkers and other residents in New Jersey and Connecticut are made available.

Madam Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time, and I ask unanimous consent to withdraw my amendment.

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Ms. VELÁZQUEZ. Mr. Chairman, from the Revolutionary War to the war in Afghanistan, we owe a great debt to our servicemen and -women. One way that we honor them is through their internment in national veteran cemeteries, which gives them a dignified and honorable final resting place.

As anyone who has walked through the rows of tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery knows, these cemeteries are hallowed ground. They allow us not only to pay our great respect to these great men and women, but to reflect on the cost of defending the very freedoms we enjoy in our daily lives. Unfortunately, these burial grounds were not left unscathed by Hurricane Sandy. In fact, the Cypress Hills National Cemetery--New York City's only such cemetery--was heavily damaged by the storm.

As the final resting place for more than 20,000 soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, Korea, and Vietnam, it spans our Nation's military history and is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made to defend democracy.

At Cypress Hills National Cemetery, trees were downed, areas were flooded, and many important monuments were jeopardized. Headstones were also damaged, with some pulled out of the ground due to trees falling on them. To honor those veterans buried there, the cemetery must be well maintained, and making these repairs and protecting these structures should be a priority for all Americans. To do this, the underlying legislation provides $1.1 million to make repairs and renovations.

This amendment would provide another $1 million for this purpose and enable those affected veteran cemeteries to take steps to protect this sacred ground from future disasters. This could include installing measures to prevent the destruction of grave sites, regrading areas prone to flooding, and reinforcing critical structures that honor our veterans. Such an investment will make sure that future generations can visit this memorial and understand the sacrifices of those that came before them. Making certain that this memorial stands the test of time is the least we can do for those that gave their lives in service to our Nation.

Ultimately, a Nation is truly measured by how it honors its veterans, and this amendment does just that, while ensuring that we truly leave no man and no woman behind.

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