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The Rural Disaster Recovery Act of 2018 is the result of input from communities around Washington state

Senator Murray: Legislation would “make sure the federal government is better positioned to help communities in their time of need”

***Watch Senator Murray’s video statement on the Rural Disaster Recovery Act HERE***

(Washington, D.C.)  – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) reintroduced legislation to expand and modernize key disaster recovery programs in order to better help families and rural communities affected by wildfires. The bill, The Rural Disaster Recovery Act of 2018, incorporates input from communities in Washington state affected by wildfires in recent years, which exposed glaring gaps in the disaster safety net and put a massive strain on state and local governments.

“Because of the nature of wildfires, which can be slow-moving disasters that play out over weeks, far too many families have been left behind by federal disaster assistance programs that weren’t designed with them in mind,” Senator Murray said. “My legislation, which was borne of countless conversations in communities around Washington state, would not only incentivize wildfire prevention measures, it would also make sure the federal government is better positioned to help communities in their time of need. It’s the right thing to do to help rural communities that are increasingly at risk of devastating wildfires that have only grown in size and scope over the past decade.”

The Rural Disaster Recovery Act of 2018 would:

  • Expand the Disaster Safety Net by creating a new program to help resource-strained communities recover from major disasters in the event Individual Assistance (IA) is not granted. The program could help with shelter, food, and other recovery services.
  • Modernize Recovery Programs by increasing Farm Service Agency grant award limit, which has remained unchanged since 1981, and create a pilot program to provide disaster victims more time to apply for and utilize recovery grants.
  • Target Mitigation Assistance by helping wildfire-prone areas with easier, more reliable access to federal funds to defend against future fires. The bill makes permanent a pilot authority that allowed for FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to be awarded to areas that were issued fire management assistance grants, but did not receive a major disaster declaration. The bill would also create a pilot program for the administration of HGMP which would broaden the wildfire-specific eligible activities and expedite the application review and disbursement process.  
  • Recognize the Long-Term Effects of Wildland Fires by creating a pilot program to make FEMA Public Assistance funding available to areas affected by flooding, mudslides, and landslides that were made worse by wildfires.