Reps. Davis, Craig Introduce Bipartisan Disaster Loan Program Bill

July 25, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – Representatives Rodney Davis, R-Ill., and Angie Craig, D-Minn., proposed Wednesday to create a low-interest loan program administered by FEMA for states to fund projects that reduce the risks and costs of natural disasters.

“Helping communities prepare for disasters on the front end should be one of the most basic functions of the federal government,” said Representative Davis as he announced the introduction of the Resilience Revolving Loan Fund Act of 2019.

“When we help them invest in disaster mitigation, recovery is faster and we save taxpayer dollars in the long term,” he said.

“As the impact of climate change gets closer and closer to home, we need to make sure our communities have the resources they need to be resilient in the face of increasing natural disasters,” Craig said.

“This bipartisan bill is a direct response to the conversations I have had with local leaders, and I am proud to be able to make the voices of local leaders heard in Washington by championing proactive and affordable investment in disaster-resilient infrastructure,” she added.

The representatives were joined at their news conference Wednesday by Mayor Rick Eberlin of Grafton, Ill., a community that has been hard hit by flooding this year.

“This Resilience Revolving Loan Fund could be a game-changer for us. The longest and largest flood in recorded history has taken a toll on my city,” the mayor said.

Eberlin, who is also the Illinois chair for the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative, said the loan program will enable mayors in flood-prone communities to bring new and innovative resilience projects on line.”

Representative Davis said the positive impact mitigation efforts can have is evident when one compares this year’s flood damage along the Illinois side of the Mississippi River where money has been invested in mitigation, to the Missouri side where investments have been less.

“Mayor Eberlin’s work in Grafton … has helped his community manage and recover from severe water levels. Our bipartisan bill gives communities, like Grafton and others, a more flexible tool that will allow them to invest in projects that can minimize the impact of the next disaster,” Davis said.

Natural disasters cost the country $91 billion in 2018, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — that’s the fourth-highest total cost from natural disasters since NOAA started tracking the data in 1980.

In addition, Davis and Craig said, some states have sustained over $150 billion in actual losses since 2005. 

They contend resilience and mitigation spending pay back to the taxpayer over $6.00 for every $1.00 invested.

Their bill would amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to create a federal grant program authorized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide states with revolving loans for projects intended to minimize the risk of emergency disasters.

A revolving loan fund offers loans at a low interest rate and would allow for the state or city to repay the loan with savings from the mitigation projects. Loans would be available to eligible cities, townships, and counties with the intent to help prevent the loss of life and property, the cost of insurance, and federal disaster payments.

Loans would be available for projects aimed to minimize risks of: wildfires, earthquakes, flooding, storm surges, chemical spills, seepage resulting from chemical spills and flooding, and any other event deemed catastrophic by FEMA.

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