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Sen. Schatz calls for additional disaster relief funding for Maui

US Sen. Brian Schatz delivered remarks on the Senate floor today, calling on lawmakers in Congress to pass additional disaster relief funding for Maui and other disaster-impacted communities across the country.

He underscored the urgent need for additional funding saying it has been more than five months since the president submitted a Domestic Supplemental Appropriations request to Congress. Among other things, it called for funding recovery efforts in communities across the country struck by disasters, including Lahaina, Maui.

“Every one of these affected communities in Florida, in California, in Vermont, in Mississippi, in Alabama, in Arkansas, in Alaska, in South Dakota, in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee need help. Each one of them is in the middle of a long and difficult process of rebuilding and getting back on its feet,” said Sen. Schatz.

“Recovering from a disaster whether natural or man-made—it is hard, it’s time intensive, and it is incredibly expensive. Surveying the damage in the immediate days and hours following the event, undertaking the complex and often dangerous process of debris removal, rebuilding homes and roads and schools and other essential infrastructure that were destroyed, providing financial assistance to people, families, and small business owners who lost their jobs and livelihoods overnight—It takes months and years and tremendous effort from thousands of people to return these communities to anything close to normal,” he said.

As Lahaina continues to recover, yet another community is confronting the colossal task of rebuilding, this time in Baltimore in the wake of the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

“As Baltimore recovers, we stand ready to support all the communities and businesses that relied on that bridge and the port of Baltimore every day to get around and move goods through,” said Sen. Schatz, who serves as the chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation.

“I’m committed to doing everything I can to help pass the necessary funding to rebuild. And as we do that, we also have a responsibility to support every other community that has been devastated by a disaster—because we are all in this together,” he said.

“When a disaster is so big, so catastrophic for any one state or locality to handle, it falls on the federal government to step up and help,” said Sen. Schatz, noting that disasters do not discriminate. “Accidents don’t pick and choose their victims. Every community that has had the misfortune of being struck by a disaster needs and deserves help,” he said.

Reflecting on the eight months that have passed since the devastating Maui wildfires, Sen. Schatz said the needs remain enormous. “Thousands of people are still living out of hotels and vacation rentals, unable to rebuild their lives. Roads and water systems have yet to be repaired. Small businesses and their employees continue to struggle without tourism,” he said.

“For Lahaina to recover, thousands of homes will need to be rebuilt. Critical infrastructure will need to be restored. Businesses will need to get up and running again. And so Congress needs to step up and help,” said Sen. Schatz.

He said that includes providing funding for the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery, or CDBGDR program, as the supplemental request calls for. He called CDBGDR funding “a lifeline” for families and businesses recovering after disasters and said Maui and many other communities nationwide are waiting on this aid.

“It has been nearly six months since the president called on Congress to help communities recover from their disasters. We’ve waited a long time, and we can’t wait much longer,” said Sen. Schatz.

“And so as we need to pass this supplemental and make sure all the survivors are getting the relief that they need, this is not each against all. We are truly all in this together. Every community that has been hurt by a natural disaster deserves help, and Congress must provide it,” he concluded.