Following a tour of hurricane-ravaged counties in eastern North Carolina, U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (NC) called on the Senate Appropriations Committee to ensure sufficient disaster relief funds for all U.S. communities devastated by natural disasters. In a letter sent Monday to U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Chairman Sen. Daniel Inouye (HI) and Ranking Member Sen. Thad Cochran (MS), Hagan urged the committee to support disaster relief funding to meet the shortfalls facing disaster relief efforts this year and next year. A copy of the letter is here.
"We are still learning the extent of [Hurricane Irene's] destruction all along the east coast, from my home state of North Carolina well up into New England," Hagan wrote. "Given the historic nature of the most recent storm, and the significant backlog of other disasters that FEMA continues to address, I believe it is vital that we move quickly to ensure sufficient funding will be available to help Americans in all states get back on their feet to rebuild their homes and towns.
"With these urgent needs in mind, I urge the Appropriations Committee to move quickly to provide robust supplemental disaster relief funding for fiscal years 2011 and 2012."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund pays for individual and community assistance after declared disasters. However, because of the unusually high number of natural disasters in 2011 before Hurricane Irene, the fund faces a shortfall this year and next year. Last week, the Office of Management and Budget announced that even before accounting for the damage caused by Hurricane Irene, the unmet disaster needs for fiscal year 2012 are $5.2 billion.
Currently, 33 North Carolina counties have been approved for individual assistance following Hurricane Irene.
Last week, Hagan toured hurricane-devastated areas and recovery efforts across eastern North Carolina, including an aerial tour of widely damaged agricultural areas and the Outer Banks with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Governor Bev Perdue. Hagan impressed upon Secretaries Napolitano and Vilsack the need for immediate assistance. Hagan continues to work with Governor Perdue and local emergency managers to obtain all necessary federal assistance.