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Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the gentleman very much, and I thank the proponent of this legislation. It is obviously needed.
I come from the gulf region. We lost thousands and thousands and thousands from hurricanes. Hurricane Ike saw this Congress give us $3 billion. I stand here today to remind you that a police officer died, a 13-year-old died from debris falling on her, and a mother saw her two children drawn from her hands and drowned in Hurricane Sandy. It is long overdue.
I stand here as someone who has been a beneficiary, who has cried with those who have lost. I demand that this money be passed today, but more importantly, I demand that we pass the total amount of money right now, today. Let's help the American people. Let's help those impacted by Sandy. Let's help my fellow Americans.
Madam Speaker, I rise today to support H.R. 41, ``To Temporarily Increase The Borrowing Authority of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Carrying Out National Flood Insurance Program.''
I urge this new 113th Congress to start the New Year off right by acting swiftly in support of legislation to fund disaster relief assistance for the victims of Superstorm Sandy.
Since this historic storm devastated the east coast in late October, the people impacted by the storm, particularly those in the Tri-State area of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, have been waiting patiently for the federal government to act as they continue to engage in efforts to rebuild their communities.
However, the time for patience has long since expired, and these Americans can no longer wait for Congress to act.
68 days have passed since the storm surged onto the shores of Atlantic City, New Jersey. It has been a long 67 days for families without a home, and for businesses without a storefront or customers. For 67 days, these neighborhoods have struggled to pick up the pieces and put their communities back together, and Congress must step in--immediately--to lend a helping hand.
As the representative for the 18th District in Texas, I know the massive and protracted destruction that storms like this can cause both to property and, more importantly, to the lives of citizens who are left to rebuild their lives and restore all that they have lost.
After the initial disaster response and search and rescue phases, we must begin to rebuild, a process that calls for a long-term commitment from officials in state, local, and federal government.
We can all recall Hurricane Ike in 2008, which heavily impacted many constituents in my district. At least 74 people lost their lives in the State of Texas, with 28 in Harris County and 17 in Galveston. Over 200,000 homes in the Houston-Galveston region were left damaged or destroyed as a result of Ike.
Congress appropriated $3 billion to Texas to help finance the infrastructure and housing recovery, which included individual and household assistance, disaster unemployment assistance, public assistance grants to state and local government and nonprofit organizations to pay for debris removal, emergency protective measures and road repairs, and low-interest disaster loans provided by the Small Business Administration.
My visits to the affected areas fundamentally evidenced the need for long-term recovery and to get people back on their feet. My constituents and others in the affected areas needed and greatly appreciated the federal assistance they received, and so now that Americans in other parts of our nation need our help, we must move in a bipartisan fashion to provide it.
As a nation, we continue to mourn the loss of at least 125 people in the United States and a total of 253 people due to Superstorm Sandy (60 in New York, 48 New York City; 34 in New Jersey; 16 in Pennsylvania, 7 in West Virginia).
As devastating as Hurricane Ike was, the damage to property it caused (an estimated $29.5 billion) the costs associated with Superstorm Sandy are expected to be significantly higher. While we do not yet know the final numbers, the total amount of property damage resulting from Superstorm Sandy exceeds $62 billion. In terms of dollars of property destruction, this ranks Superstorm Sandy second only to Hurricane Katrina ($128 billion, adjusted for inflation)(note: Hurricane Ike ranks 3rd).
Food, shelter and clothing are basic necessities, and right now far too many people are without access to them during these holidays and in brutally cold weather. With more cold weather in sight, things are not going to get any easier for residents of those communities.
Economic conditions in many affected communities are stagnant; stalled because the federal government has yet to provide funding. It took 10 days for Congress to approve roughly $50 billion in aid for Katrina, but Congress has not provided aid for those affected by Sandy for more than two months.
We need to restore a sense of calm and stability in the lives of people affected by Superstorm Sandy. We need to ensure that small businesses in the affected areas are able to rebound as expeditiously as possible so that they can get the local economies moving again.
I am encouraged that relief for Superstorm Sandy has received bipartisan support, but now we must follow through with action. We know that disasters affect all of us at one point or another, and we must come together as one nation to give people access to relief that, realistically, only the federal government can provide. However, this should have been done no less than 5 days after the horrible Hurricane Sandy--now we are only during half way--let's vote today on the full 60 billion dollars in relief today. Let's not watch people died and people are suffering after hurricane! We can not wait until January 15, 2013--now is the time to help the people suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
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