Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett released the following statement regarding H.R. 5756, the Resiliency Enhancement Act of 2020, legislation recently introduced in the House of Representatives to allow the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to rebuild additional infrastructure to be more resilient than prior to recent disasters:
“In the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, there was a recognition from Congress as to the sweeping destruction inflicted on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. FEMA was given flexibility to make repairs and replace infrastructure on the islands to incorporate resilient design and features, regardless of pre-disaster condition (the standard that normally applies). However, eligibility was limited to infrastructure providing critical services – schools, hospitals, utilities, etc. In addition, according to FEMA, this assistance cannot apply to damages caused by disasters declared after 2017, such as the recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico, without congressional action.
“I have introduced the Resiliency Enhancement Act of 2020 to expand infrastructure eligible for this additional resiliency assistance to include our roads, bridges, ports, airports, affordable housing and stormwater infrastructure as the islands build back, which would minimize the need for future taxpayer investments in recovery. It would also apply this additional assistance to any major disaster declared in the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico through fiscal year 2022. This bipartisan legislation has nine co-sponsors, including Congresswoman González-Colón of Puerto Rico, and has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which will hopefully approve it for consideration by the full House of Representatives in the next few weeks.
“With climate change fixed on the radar of corporate and civil risk managers around the world, more and more attention needs to turn towards resilience and working out effective measures and solutions for global disaster loss reduction. This bill will do just that.”