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Public Statements

Letter to Director Burwell and Administrator Fugate - Implement Critical Disaster Recovery Legislation

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representative Tim Walz called on the Administration to implement critical disaster recovery legislation to help winter storm cleanup efforts in Southwest Minnesota. In a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the members urge the agencies to take action to implement a key provision in the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 to ensure the region receives the assistance they were promised.

"This year's winter storm has required a significant recovery effort, including millions of dollars to repair public infrastructure and hundreds of hours of labor for debris removal," the members said. "The Administration needs to keep the promises that were made to the region and I look forward to working with them to ensure that Minnesota cities and towns receive the assistance they were promised and deserve under the law."

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has yet to implement a key provision in the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013, which is impacting the federal reimbursement for emergency cleanup activities in Minnesota. The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act requires FEMA to reimburse the base and overtime wages of employees of a state or local government who work on the cleanup and removal of debris as long as it is deemed a safety concern. Consistent with the change in the law FEMA officials informed local government officials as well as delegation staff that cleanup work by public employees for would be covered as an eligible expense for reimbursement.

A full text of the letter is below:

The Honorable Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Director
Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20503

The Honorable William Craig Fugate
Administrator
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20472

Dear Director Burwell and Administrator Fugate:

We write to bring to your attention an issue impacting cities and towns in southwest Minnesota that are struggling to recover from the devastating ice storm that occurred April 9-11, 2013. The storm caused extensive damage to the region's electric distribution network with miles of downed power lines, widespread power outages, property damage, and fallen trees. This damage has required a significant recovery effort, including millions of dollars to repair public infrastructure and hundreds of hours of labor for debris removal.

We are troubled to learn that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has yet to implement a key provision in the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013, which is impacting the federal reimbursement for emergency cleanup activities in Minnesota. The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act requires FEMA to reimburse the base and overtime wages of employees of a state or local government who work on the cleanup and removal of debris as long as it is deemed a safety concern. Consistent with the change in the law FEMA officials informed local government officials as well as staff from our offices that cleanup work by public employees for would be covered as an eligible expense for reimbursement.

With this understanding of the rules for emergency reimbursement payments, local officials worked to be good stewards of public dollars and chose to use less expensive city and public works staff instead of outside contractors to oversee cleanup and debris removal efforts. FEMA needs to keep the promises that were made to these local units of governments in the aftermath of the storm.

We look forward to working with you to ensure that Minnesota cities and towns receive in a timely manner the assistance they were promised and fully deserve under the law.


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