WASHINGTON, D.C. – Recently, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects Act (HELP Act) and the Strategic Acquisition and Floodplain Efficiency Reform Act (SAFER Act), legislation to help communities recover from natural disasters.
“North Carolinians know the devastating impacts of natural disasters all too well,” said Senator Tillis. “They also unfortunately know how slow federal relief programs can take to provide assistance. That is why I am proud to introduce these pieces of legislation to speed up the disaster recovery process and ensure our communities have the resources they need to recover in a timely fashion.”
Following a Major Disaster Declaration from the President, FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) is triggered to help the impacted community enact mitigation measures that reduce the risk of loss of life and property before the next storm. However, current regulation prohibits an applicant for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program from starting construction on a mitigation project until they receive an answer from FEMA as to whether their project is ultimately awarded funding. The HELP Act addresses these bureaucratic delays and makes it easier for communities to begin mitigation projects immediately following natural disasters.
The HELP Act was also introduced by U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), James Lankford (R-OK), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and John Cornyn (R-TX). Companion legislation was introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) and Paul McCaul (R-TX), and has already been passed in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
The SAFER Act improves the “buyout” process for homes previously flooded in a storm event and would authorize the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to establish a pilot program that would leverage public-private partnerships to expedite pre-disaster mitigation projects.