Bipartisan bill pushing to speed up disaster recovery projects

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – New legislation on Capitol Hill could bring federal dollars to communities hit by natural disasters much quicker than ever before.

After a natural disaster hit his state of North Carolina, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said he was running into one big problem.

“We were getting the money from Washington down to Raleigh but it wasn’t getting to the communities,” Tillis said.

Certain projects were stalled because, under current law, local stakeholders applying for federal funding for mitigation projects have to wait until they receive final approval from FEMA before they can start construction.

That’s why Tillis and a bipartisan group of senators, including Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), introduced a bill that would expedite the start of those projects.

“This bill is going to cut that red tape, streamline the process so these cities, counties, tribes and others can get that money quicker to try to rebuild,” Jones said.

The new bill would change FEMA’s grant eligibility requirements to allow states to begin construction immediately after a natural disaster hits.

Tillis and Jones said this change will help communities get back on their feet sooner.

“A lot of big projects this won’t affect but there are so many in Alabama that can be smaller projects or broken up into smaller projects that just could help make the rebuilding process a lot quicker,” Jones added.

They believe it can help communities rebuild stronger so they’re better prepared before the next disaster hits.

“Build up, make it less likely that the next hurricane will cause the same damage that the prior one did,” Tillis said.

Tillis said he believes this bill will get through Congress this year.

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