Rural leaders ask Congress for better response to natural disasters
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Rural leaders ask Congress for better response to natural disasters

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Rural leaders ask Congress for better response to natural disasters

Rural leaders ask Congress for better response to natural disasters

Leaders from rural communities affected by recent natural disasters are urging Congress to boost infrastructure funding and response efforts.

At a hearing Wednesday, Minnesota farmer and county commissioner Kevin Paap testified about the impact of a partial dam failure in his community last month, which released more than 11.6 million cubic yards of sediment after severe flooding.

“Rural counties are often limited in their ability to manage emergency response and recovery efforts due to limited staffing and funding,” he says. “These capacity issues can lead to prolonged disruptions to infrastructure and services, as well as extended recovery periods and economic losses.”

Paap says farmers and rural residents need to know where to turn for help and when it will arrive.

“We know that things cannot be done overnight, but when can or should we expect an answer?” he asks. “I believe this process can and should be improved.”

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore says most utilities and rural communities don’t have the funds to recover from increasingly frequent and severe storms.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of having flexible, low-cost or no-cost funding that can be deployed quickly after a disaster,” she said. “We simply do not have time to wait for Congress to designate and appropriate additional disaster-related funding.”

Senate Agriculture Committee Democrats during subcommittee hearing He highlighted permanent rural development funding, the Rural Partners Program and new capacity programs included in Senator Stabenow’s farm bill as possible solutions for rural resilience.