Calls for a New Direction in Rebuilding the Region
HYATTSVILLE, MD - Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) yesterday was briefed by the National Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross about its Hurricane Recovery Program.
"In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, citizens and organizations throughout Maryland opened their hearts and pocketbooks to nearly 5,000 survivors, providing the resources necessary for housing, health care, and public education," Hoyer said. "The Red Cross played a critical role in that effort and this Hurricane Recovery Program will go a long way to help hurricane-affected families develop their own plans for recovery and identify community resources."
At the briefing, Hoyer stressed the importance of being prepared to respond to a future disaster, whether natural or perpetrated by terrorists. "The federal government must do its part to avoid the system wide breakdowns experienced after Hurricane Katrina," he said. "With that said, I am confident that our area has an extremely able partner in the Red Cross should we have such misfortune."
Hoyer just returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast where he participated in a number of meetings about the challenges of rebuilding. "America needs to come together to help the Gulf Coast speed up the pace of its recovery," he said. "There is no acceptable reason for the wealthiest nation in the world to not have made more progress in repairing the communities, families and lives devastated a year ago. The survivors of Hurricane Katrina, like the rest of the country, are thirsting for a new direction that will put them on the road to rebuilding their lives and fulfilling their dreams."
Hoyer and his House Democratic colleagues have called for a new direction in rebuilding the Gulf Coast. Their agenda includes:
Providing a federal response system that works-including reforming the Stafford Act to cut the red tape that is delaying urgent funding priorities; reforming a bureaucratic, sluggish, pony-express system of moving resources to the people who need them, into a 21st Century, efficient operation; creating evacuation plans and disaster response systems with local and state governments at the table; and putting in place a contracting system that reward the ability to get the job done instead of a "pay to play" mechanism of no-bid contracting that benefits cronies. Local, instate companies will be considered first.
Improving housing, to bring people of the Gulf Coast back home-including implementing a HUD voucher program to replace the FEMA program wrought with waste, fraud and abuse; extending the low income housing tax credit; assisting low-income homeowners in their efforts to repair or replace damaged homes; and preserving existing federal housing resources in the Gulf region.
Reforming a complicated and unfair insurance industry-including a flood insurance buy-in act for those who live outside the flood hazard areas on FEMA flood maps; reforming disaster insurance and creating an all-perils insurance coverage program (National Disaster Insurance) for all Americans and all natural disasters.
Bolstering our levees and restoring our coastline-including rebuilding barrier islands, restoring the marsh and wetlands and providing for full resources to build and maintain optimal levee protection; narrowing the Corps of Engineers' ability to ignore congressional intent with its regulations, guidelines and policy; devising a plan to handle fast-tracked authorizations, studies and appropriations, cutting red tape and moving resources, in an expedited manner, to their point of use; and ensuring beneficial use of dredged materials in a way that maximizes resources and optimizes the protection from natural disaster of the American public.
Improving the education system, strengthening families-including rebuilding and improving the school systems along the Gulf Coast and New Orleans to state-of-the-art learning centers where children excel and families thrive; increasing 21st Century grants and ensuring that all federal resources are available for the rebuilding and recovery of the educational system; accelerating FEMA reimbursements, removing the red tape that is slowing down support to the ravaged school districts and inflicting significant problems on the families of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama; and providing substantive incentives for teachers to return to the impacted areas including housing, higher pay, certain insurance, tenure reinstatement and health benefits.
Congressman Hoyer is the Federal Representative for the Fifth Congressional District of Maryland. Members of the United States House of Representatives serve two-year terms. Mr. Hoyer also serves as the Minority Whip. The Minority Whip is a member of the minority party in the U.S. House of Representatives who assists the Minority Leader in coordinating the party caucus in its responses to legislation and other matters.
Mr. Hoyer's website is located at http://www.hoyer.house.gov/. His office can be reached at (202) 225-4131. More biographical info on Mr. Hoyer can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steny_Hoyer.