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RELEASE: Tester secures flooding assistance for Northern Cheyenne Tribe

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 29, 2011

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Tester secures flooding assistance for Northern Cheyenne Tribe

 

(U.S. SENATE) - Montana’s Northern Cheyenne tribe will receive assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to repair or rebuild homes damaged by recent flooding, thanks to a recent request by U.S. Senator Jon Tester.


Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, asked the Department for additional resources earlier this month in the wake of record flooding on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and other Montana communities.

 

In response, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is announcing that the Tribe will receive $450,000 from the Indian Community Development Block Grant Imminent Threat Program.  The grant funding is “provided to a tribe to alleviate an imminent threat to public health or safety that requires immediate resolution.”

 

“Montana’s communities were hard hit by flooding, and it will take working neighbor to neighbor, government to government to rebuild our communities, homes and small businesses,” Tester said.  “We still have more work to do fighting for Montana communities in need, and I’ll continue to keep fighting for the resources our state needs.”

 

Tester recently scheduled numerous outreach meetings across Montana to provide information to anyone affected by flooding.  He also launched an online resources website at tester.senate.gov/flood.

 

Tester’s June 15 request letter to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development appears below.

 

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June 15, 2011

 

The Honorable Shaun Donovan, Secretary

United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

451 7th Street S.W.

Washington, DC 20410

 

Dear Secretary Donovan:

 

Montana is currently experiencing devastating floods.  Experts from the National Weather Service estimate that conditions will only get worse as a record snowpack begins melting out of the mountains onto an already saturated ground.  Montana communities are already struggling, and anticipate things getting much worse well into August.

 

Among those already facing dire circumstances are several Montana Indian reservations.  Members of the Northern Cheyenne, Crow and Fort Belknap tribes have been displaced from their homes and others are living with as much as two feet of standing water in their crawl space and/or basement.  As Montana’s only member of the Indian Affairs Committee, I have a strong desire, and unique obligation to help.  I write to ask that you join me.

 

In particular, please make funds available to Montana tribes out of your Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) program that addresses Imminent Threats.  The National Weather Service and Federal Emergency Management Agencies have concluded that floods, both current and forecast, clearly threaten the health and safety of tribal members on each Montana reservation.  Some have already lost everything and are living in shelters or with family members.

 

A Preliminary Damage Assessment is underway and the State of Montana has requested the President declare a major disaster.  Although the ICDBG’s $450,000 maximum award – without a Presidential Declaration of Emergency – will not cover all of the damage we expect, your commitment will help tremendously.  It will not only demonstrate that the United States is upholding its trust responsibility, but says we do the right thing when our friends and neighbors are in unexpected and unusual need.

 

Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for helping me address a severe situation in Montana.

 

Sincerely,

(s)

Jon Tester

United States Senator

 

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Contact:          Aaron Murphy (406) 252-0550 or Andrea Helling (202) 228-0371