As parts of the Southeast get a better handle on the damages inflicted by Hurricane Ian, a North Carolina Republican says legislation he has authored could be helpful in the rebuilding effort.
Speaking on Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C., said delays in distributing funding can hamper recovery, something he witnessed firsthand after hurricanes Matthew and Florence struck his coastal North Carolina district. He said the pace of distributing money is “an area we need to improve substantially.
“Right now, you can wait a long, long time after Congress has appropriated federal dollars for long-term recovery, and the states won't see those dollars for two, three, four years later because of the bureaucratic quagmire that's in place,” Rouzer said.
In April 2021, Rouzer and Louisiana Republican Garret Graves introduced a bill to create a block grant program that “would allow states to focus on their unique recovery needs, not on what (the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program) decides their recovery needs are,” according to a release describing the bill.
The legislation, Rouzer noted, does not specifically address the needs of agriculture, but rather “those who have lost homes, businesses and everything else.” But the idea of a permanent disaster program instead of ad hoc spending to address individual disasters is an idea that has caught the attention of many farm groups and ag lawmakers.
According to an analysis from risk modeling agency Verisk, damages from the hurricane will cause insured losses totaling between $42 billion and $57 billion, making it one of the costliest storms to ever hit the region. However, that estimate does not include factors such as losses paid out by the National Flood Insurance Program, boat losses, uninsured property and infrastructure damage. The firm estimates the total destruction could top $60 billion.
Interested in more coverage and insights? Receive a free month ofAgri-Pulse
Rouzer said he expects supplemental funding for Hurricane Ian recovery to be included in a spending package Congress must pass to avoid a government shutdown in December. But he also noted agriculture disaster losses from the storm could take longer to calculate, so additional relief might be “addressed more fully” in the spring.
Rouzer, a member of the House Ag Committee since first being elected in 2014, also offered his thoughts on Supreme Court arguments over wetlands regulation, which took place earlier this week, and California’s Proposition 12, which is scheduled to be argued on Tuesday. This week’s Newsmakers, which can be found on Agri-Pulse.com, also includes Supreme Court discussion from Pollock Cohen attorney Ben Battles; Travis Cushman, American Farm Bureau Federation deputy general counsel; and Peggy Kirk Hall at The Ohio State University.
For more news, go to www.Agri-Pulse.com.