Mar 9 2020

Carteret County News-Times

North Carolina’s senators last month introduced a bipartisan bill in Congress aimed at helping speed up the recovery process after a major disaster.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., introduced the Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects (HELP) Act, with Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., one of its cosponsors. Bipartisan senators from Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma and South Dakota also cosponsored the bill.

As presented, the bill would expedite the start of recovery projects funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s hazard mitigation grant program. Under current law, those projects can’t start until approved by FEMA, a process that can take up to several months to a year or more.

If communities move forward on projects without first receiving FEMA approval, the project is disqualified from receiving federal assistance. Sen. Tillis claims the process is restrictive and prevents communities from quickly rebuilding after a disaster.

The HELP Act proposes allowing local governments to move forward on land acquisition and simple construction projects following a natural disaster without requiring FEMA approval.

“Following the destruction in North Carolina caused by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, I worked with our state delegation to secure billions of dollars in disaster relief funding so communities could recover as quickly as possible,” Sen. Tillis said in a statement announcing the bill had been introduced.