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Letter to President George W. Bush, Re: Fully Fund Wisconsin Flood Relief


U.S. Senator Russ Feingold is leading an effort by the Wisconsin congressional delegation to have the federal government provide further assistance for Wisconsin communities devastated by severe flooding last month. Members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation sent a letter to President Bush today urging him to expand federal funding for all categories of public assistance in order to ease the financial burden on state and local communities. This includes assistance with repairing roads, bridges, irrigation channels, public buildings, water treatment facilities and removing debris.

Below is a copy of the delegation letter sent to the President.

July 10, 2008

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We write today to ask you to expand your amendment to the major disaster declaration for our state that authorized federal funding for public assistance at 90 percent for emergency protective measures. Given the severity of the damage in our state, we are writing to ask that you expand your authorization to include all categories of public assistance in Wisconsin.

The devastating floods that hit communities across Wisconsin have placed enormous pressure on the ability of the state and local governments to provide matching funds for Stafford Act disaster programs. A reduction in the state share would help ease the significant financial burden on already tight state, county, and local budgets. In particular, due to the widespread flooding and pervasive impact on the agricultural sector, we anticipate an extensive need for public assistance, such as debris removal, which is not covered by your recent revision to the disaster declaration.

As damage assessments are made public, it is becoming clear that communities across Wisconsin suffered severe losses. At this preliminary stage, FEMA has already identified over $470 million of damage in our state. This number does not reflect the full impact on the state of Wisconsin. In particular, we anticipate that there is significant damage to the agricultural sector that has not yet been documented. It is clear that the severity of this disaster greatly exceeds the flooding in 2007, when Wisconsin received a Major Presidential Disaster declaration of $23,000,000 for Individual Assistance and public assistance. Given the high per capita rate of damage and repeat disasters, we believe it is consistent with past practice to adjust the cost share for all public assistance.

Many Wisconsin residents and communities have barely had time to recover and rebuild from last year's flooding, only to be devastated once again. As Wisconsin residents rebuild their lives and communities, it is important that they have the financial resources to do so. A reduction from 25 percent to 10 percent in the state's share for all public assistance would help to reduce the enormous impact the flooding has had on Wisconsin communities.


Russell D. Feingold
United States Senator

Herb Kohl
United States Senator

David Obey
Member of Congress

Gwen Moore
Member of Congress

Tammy Baldwin
Member of Congress

Ron Kind
Member of Congress

Steve Kagen, MD
Member of Congress

James Sensenbrenner
Member of Congress

Tom Petri
Member of Congress

Paul Ryan
Member of Congress

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