Trump administration delays release of $16 billion in disaster mitigation funding | 2019-01-07

Areas that faced natural disasters back in 2017 are still waiting on billions of dollars in funding granted by Congress nearly a year ago.

After a string of natural disaster in 2017, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, Congress granted $16 billion in funding to the disaster areas in February 2018 to help with building better defenses against hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters.

But now, nearly a year later, vulnerable areas are still waiting on that funding, according to an article by Christopher Flavelle for Bloomberg.

The problem, according to the article, is that the administration has yet to issue rules telling states how they can apply for the funding.

From the article:

Eleven months later, the administration has yet to issue rules telling states how to apply for the money. On Wednesday, Texas, which stands to get more than $4 billion, sent a letter to President Donald Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, asking him to break the logjam.

“We cannot afford to wait any longer,” wrote George P. Bush, commissioner of the state’s General Land Office, which is overseeing the recovery from the hurricane that slammed into Houston and Southeast Texas in August 2017. “Please approve these rules for publication as soon as possible so we can get started on construction of vital infrastructure projects to protect Texans from the type of damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.”

And now, the partial government shutdown is further prolonging the process as staff in many departments, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was cut to a minimum.

From the article:

The $16 billion in funds was meant to address a longstanding complaint about U.S. disaster policy: instead of spending money to protect communities before a storm, the government typically releases funding only after damage has happened. Yet a federally-funded study in 2018 found that every $1 spent on mitigation saves $6 on future disaster costs.

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