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Mitigation from Devastating Floods in West Virginia and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Location: Washington, DC


    Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, Senators BYRD, STABENOW, and I would like to engage in a colloquy with Senator REID, the ranking member of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee and TED STEVENS, Chairman of the Full Committee.

    Mr. BYRD. In West Virginia, torrential flooding is becoming an annual event—since 1993, the State has had 11 federally declared disasters. In this year alone, the State has had two federally declared disasters. In the latest round of devastating flooding in the State last month, 12 counties were declared Federal disaster areas. Homes were damaged or destroyed, and the severe impact on the infrastructure in the southern part of the State—from roads, bridges, water and sewer, to power sources—has brought a normal way of life to a screeching halt once again.

    Ms. STABENOW. In May of this year, unusually heavy rainfall occurred in four countries of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan causing rivers and streams throughout the area to swell out of their banks, inflicting severe and widespread damages. The greatest damages occurred in Marquette County where an earthen dike at Silver Lake Basin failed, sending and estimated 8 billion gallons of water cascading downstream through the city of Marquette toward Lake Superior.

    The floodwaters destroyed or damaged numerous public and private structures and caused unprecedented environmental and ecological damage within the Dead River Basin and into Lake Superior in Marquette County. Two power generation facilities were damaged. One of the power generation facilities, the Presque Isle plant in the city of Marquette, resulted in shutdown for more than 30 days.

    Without power, two iron ore mines, which produce about 20 percent of our Nation's annual iron ore output, were shut down, idling 1,200 workers. Dozens of other area businesses, institutions and private homeowners were also seriously impacted. Three of the four counties affected are impoverished, with a majority of the population over 65 years of age. Local governments simply do not have the capital to pay for the public damages. Without an infusion of Federal aid, Marquette and the other three counties will have a difficult, if not impossible, task of recovering from this disaster.

    Mr. LEVIN. Normally, our States would be able to rely on the operations and maintenance account for the corps to help repair damages to public facilities, such as obstructive deposits in flood control streams, bank erosion threatening public facilities, damages to other public infrastructure such as water and sewer facilities. Additionally, funds provided will allow the Army Corps to repair weather-related damages that have occurred to Federal infrastructure. However, it is our understanding that the fund has been depleted for this year.

    Mr. REID. Unfortunately, your understanding is correct.

    Mr. BYRD. It is our hope that you and Senator DOMENICI, when drafting the Fiscal Year 04 Energy Water Development Act will be able to address these emergencies in these two States, as well as others that have experienced massive flooding in this exceptionally wet spring.

    Mr. REID. Senator DOMENICI and I will be marking up the Energy and Water Development Act for Fiscal Year 04 next week in both subcommittee and full committee. We recognize the needs of both States for flood mitigation, including stream and river restoration, bank stabilization, infrastructure repair and restoration, water and sewer repairs, and fresh drinking water in some areas. We will do everything we can to address these needs in the Fiscal Year 04 bill.

    Mr. STEVENS. I, too, will do everything I can to support this critical work as we draft the Fiscal Year 04 Energy and Water Development Act.

    Mr. LEVIN. We thank the Senator.

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