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Bicameral Legislation to Expedite Disaster Recovery
Nebraska Ag Connection - 02/14/2020

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry Thursday introduced bicameral legislation which would help speed up disaster recovery and infrastructure repairs by creating opportunities for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to cooperate with local sponsors.

"Nebraska has made progress recovering from last year's devastating floods, but some districts are still waiting for permanent repairs to their levee projects. I am proud to introduce this bill, which I am working to have included in water resources legislation. It will enable local sponsors to assist with flood-control infrastructure repairs, making rehabilitation more efficient and saving communities time and money on their road to recovery," said Senator Fischer.

"A year ago this coming March, Nebraska experienced a devastating 500-year-flood event. Nebraskans responded with characteristic care and resilience. The RELIEF Act makes water infrastructure repairs in the wake of such disasters more cost-efficient and timelier. If passed, this legislation would allow a number of local sponsors, such as natural resources districts, to swiftly make Corps-approved repairs in order to free up federal resources for those areas of a disaster that require federal assistance," said Representative Fortenberry.

The legislation would shorten the timeframe between disaster and repair/recovery by allowing non-federal sponsors to carry out repair work under the Emergency Rehabilitation Program and seek reimbursement from USACE.

Given the magnitude of damages incurred along the Lower Missouri River in 2019 and the resource constraints of USACE, there are still several Nebraska districts waiting for permanent repairs to their levee projects as they head into this year's spring flood season. A number of local sponsors would be able to react faster and more efficiently than the USACE currently can, freeing up more federal resources for disaster areas that need additional federal assistance.

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