June 22, 2011
***For Immediate Release***
BAUCUS URGES FEDERAL AGENCIES TO FIND HOUSING SOLUTIONS FOR MONTANA FLOOD VICTIMS
Senator Calls on FEMA, USDA to Support Efforts Underway By Montana Officials
(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) this week to come up with a process for coordinating with each other and the State Rural Development office to match displaced Montana flood victims with available housing and provide the necessary assistance to get folks in those homes as quickly as possible.
“Like so many folks across Montana, the State Rural Development office is working hard to help our neighbors who’ve been put out of their homes by recent flooding. I’m calling on our federal partners to help the folks on the ground get displaced families back in safe housing as quickly as possible,” Baucus said. “We’re all in this together, and recovery is going to take teamwork at every level. I’m going to keep looking for every opportunity to make sure our federal partners are on the ball.”
“USDA Rural Development is concerned about the families displaced by the flooding in Montana,” said Montana Rural Development State Director Matt Jones. “We have about 150 rental units in our program across the state that could be used for housing, and we can give priority to and waive certain regulations for families displaced by flooding. We’re also making sure folks are aware of Rural Development’s one percent loans to repair homes for very low income families. Rural Development stands ready to work with FEMA and our state and local agencies to help folks impacted by the floods. We thank Max for highlighting the need for a proactive and cooperative approach to making sure flood victims get the help they need.”
Yesterday, Baucus applauded additional federal disaster assistance for Montana homeowners and low-income renters through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department.
Text of Baucus’ letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is available HERE and below:
June 20, 2011
The Honorable Tom Vilsack The Honorable W. Craig Fugate
U.S. Department of Agriculture Federal Emergency Management Agency
1400 Independence Avenue SW 500 C St SW Room 214
Washington. D.C. 20050-0002 Washington, D.C. 20472-3198
Dear Secretary Vilsack and Administrator Fugate:
I am writing to urge the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to take steps immediately to support the disaster recovery effort underway in Montana and to use your respective authorities to find viable housing options for displaced families.
As you both know, the State of Montana determined that the flooding damage was so serious that it was beyond the capacities of the state, local, and tribal governments to sufficiently respond without federal assistance. On June 17, 2011 the President rightfully declared a state of emergency in Montana.
It is my understanding that the State Rural Development office has been diligently working to gather a list of vacant housing, financed through Rural Development's Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Program. With this work already underway, USDA and FEMA should promptly reach an understanding that the agencies will work together and share information to make housing available to persons displaced by the flooding which includes the process by which FEMA will make the properties available to disaster victims. Most importantly, the agencies should share information regarding known locations of disaster evacuees to expedite their relocation to a safe accommodation.
I have personally seen the generosity of Montanans who have sprung into action to help their neighbors, but I have also seen the damage firsthand. While folks are doing everything they can to help each other out, it's clear that we're going to need all federal resources available to help Montanans pick themselves up. I ask that USDA and FEMA quickly work together to cut down on the red tape to ensure viable housing options for Montana's families so those displaced by the floods can quickly get roofs over their heads.
It is essential that USDA and FEMA provide rural Montanans with quick assistance in response to these floods. I appreciate your consideration of this request and look forward to working with you to assist Montana during this difficult time.
Contact: Kate Downen 406-224-5056/Jenny Donohue (202)224-4515/Kathy Weber 406-657-5915
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