North Florida Needs Federal Aid for Hurricane Michael Now
For the third time in one week, a House Republican has stopped the passage of the $19.1 billion Disaster Assistance package that would have finally brought long overdue relief to thousands of families across North Florida who are still recovering from Hurricane Michael.
In successive days, Rep. Chip Roy, R-TX, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky, and Rep. John Rose, R-TN, each stood up to single handedly block a carefully negotiated package of assistance that had been agreed upon by the leadership of the House, Senate and even the Trump Administration. Because of their callous actions, families across the Panhandle who are desperately trying to return to a sense of normalcy must wait.
This week, as I rode through some areas of Gadsden County, it still appears as if the storm had just hit yesterday. There are blue tarps nailed atop delipidated homes and buildings that have been abandoned. It is especially chilling to see areas that I once knew – areas where I grew up – that are no more or essentially unrecognizable.
When I recently traveled through Bay County, citizens are living in tents, and several schools and places of worship remain closed. American families hit by natural disasters deserve to know that their government is there for them, not turning their backs.
Many across North Florida are still without jobs or housing after Hurricane Michael’s destruction. Reps. Roy, Massie and Rose actions have not only blocked relief from those devastated by Hurricane Michael, but also the millions of Americans across the country who are recovering from tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, flooding, wildfires and other natural disasters.
And sadly, the bill's delay comes as additional tornadoes, flooding and wildfires pop up in states throughout our nation.
This Disaster Assistance Package would provide:
• $2.21 billion to help communities rebuild housing, businesses and infrastructure in the most impacted and distressed areas;
• $165 million to meet educational needs;
• $50 million to help American workers who have been temporarily or permanently laid off because of a natural disaster.
• $3 billion to help farmers struggling with crop and livestock losses; and
• $150 million for grants for facilities to provide health care, education, public safety and other public services to rural communities.
We are in the first days of Florida’s 2019 Hurricane Season, and our families cannot withstand another beating without this long-overdue aid.
As Floridians, we know hurricanes are inevitable. These natural disasters aren’t going away. If the 2019 Hurricane Season is anything like what we saw last year in terms of damage, we need to look at what we can do to make our communities more resilient.
Helping to ensure that our government works for all us is a priority for me. I will continue to fight to secure the hurricane recovery funds North Florida needs.
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson is a native Floridian. He represents Florida’s Fifth Congressional District, which stretches from Gadsden County to Jacksonville.
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