Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher and Congressman Pete Olson Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Speed Up Post-Harvey Recovery Projects
Washington, May 8, 2019
(Washington, DC) – Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), Congressman Pete Olson (TX-22) and representatives from other areas hit by natural disasters, Reps. G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) and Mark Meadows (NC-11), introduced the Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects (HELP) Act. This legislation will speed up the start of recovery projects after natural disasters, even while waiting for federal assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) hazard mitigation grant program.
Under current law, local and state agencies applying for federal money to begin recovery projects must wait until they receive an answer from FEMA before purchasing land or starting construction on their project. Purchasing the land or starting construction without an answer disqualifies the project from receiving federal assistance. This process prevents important recovery projects from starting and helping the community as quickly as possible.
“In Houston, our local agencies and officials tasked with flood mitigation and prevention have told me that this law is a real impediment to getting started on long-term recovery and mitigation projects,” Congresswoman Fletcher said. “Our community is ready to move forward, and I am so glad to assemble this bipartisan coalition to bring this common-sense change to the law and to help our communities recover as quickly as possible.”
“After a storm like Hurricane Harvey, folks want to start picking up the pieces, repairing roads, infrastructure and homes as soon as possible,” Rep. Pete Olson said. “No one should be forced to live in potentially unsafe conditions while they wait for recovery funds that can easily take months, if not years. Our communities must begin the recovery process as quickly as possible. The federal government should not be an obstacle if local funds are available to start construction on crucial projects. I’m pleased to work on behalf of our region with Rep. Fletcher to develop this common sense solution. I urge the House to act quickly to help our Houston community, and others across the nation, rebuild as soon as possible.”
Hurricane Harvey hit Congresswoman Fletcher and Congressman Olson’s districts in August 2017. Harvey was a category 4 storm and unprecedented rain event that caused an estimated $125 billion in damages.
Reps. Butterfield and Meadows saw Hurricane Florence devastate their districts in 2018.