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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, today the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins, and so I come to the floor to speak for increased resources to prevent flood damage, as they have devastated our communities in New Jersey and around the eastern United States.
In H.R. 5325, Chairman Frelinghuysen and the committee have provided for the U.S. Corps of Engineers $1.5 billion for planning, training, and other measures to ensure the readiness of the Corps to respond to floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. I thank the chairman and the committee for that work.
This amount is $216.7 million below the amount that the Corps received for flood preparation in 2012. My amendment would provide an additional $2 million so the Corps can continue critical lifesaving flood preparation work. Although this won't close the funding gap, my amendment would demonstrate the commitment of Congress to addressing proactively the variety of problems that can result from severe weather events and flooding.
Last August and September, many central New Jersey residents experienced flood damage due to Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Evacuations and property damage can be a heavy burden to bear for many of our constituents. In recent years, there have been deaths in New Jersey from such flooding.
I was traveling through my district during and after last year's hurricane and saw firsthand the flooding damage in the Delaware and Raritan River Basins and elsewhere. When Hurricane Irene hit New Jersey last year, it cast more than 10,000 people from their homes and left more than 190,000 utility customers without power; 11 inland rivers and their tributaries crested, with some at record levels.
The best time to address flooding is before the severe weather occurs. Unfortunately, it seems that severe weather events like floods and droughts will become only more common as the Earth's temperature continues to rise. There are a number of critical infrastructure and public works projects throughout central New Jersey that the Corps is at work on, that the Corps is aware of, that the Corps is planning to deal with, and they must continue in order to prepare for these severe weather events.
Again, I appreciate the foresight and the wisdom of Chairman Frelinghuysen. This amendment would provide additional funds and incentives to the Corps to continue with these important projects.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.
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