Rubio To Obama: Reconsider Request For Federal Flooding Assistance To Tampa Region

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U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently urged President Barack Obama to reconsider Governor Rick Scott’s request for flooding assistance to help the five Gulf counties heavily impacted by August flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied the Governor’s original request without cause or explanation, despite serious flooding and widespread damage.

“The severe weather events last month caused significant damage to numerous homes, businesses, transportation networks, and public infrastructure,” wrote Rubio. “These hard hit areas are home to populations that are more susceptible to economic hardship.

“As Floridians continue to reel from the effects of last month’s torrential rains and flooding, I respectfully request you consider Governor Scott’s appeal for a Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance for the five impacted counties,” Rubio continued.

A PDF of the letter is available here, and the text is below:

September 15, 2015

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

As you may know, from late July to early August, heavy rainfall battered Florida’s central west coast, resulting in amounts of 10 to 20 inches. The counties of Dixie, Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Taylor experienced numerous days of heavy rainfall that resulted in severe flooding. As the State of Florida continues to address the effects of this record-breaking rain, I urge you to reconsider Governor Rick Scott’s August 25, 2015 request for a Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance.

The severe weather events last month caused significant damage to numerous homes, businesses, transportation networks, and public infrastructure. These hard hit areas are home to populations that are more susceptible to economic hardship. Taylor, Dixie and Hillsborough are above the national average for persons living below the poverty level. Two of the counties, Taylor and Dixie, have a disabled population approximately two times higher than the national average. Dixie, Pasco and Pinellas Counties consist of a significant elderly population, which equates to one and a half times higher than the national average. And, according to the 2010 census, the five counties affected had an unemployment rate higher than that of the national average.

As noted in Governor Scott’s September 11, 2015 appeal letter, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Small Business Administration, and state and local officials worked together on preliminary damage assessments. It was this joint effort that prompted Governor Scott to request a Major Disaster Declaration on August 25, 2015. On September 3, 2015, FEMA denied the State’s request without cause or explanation. As Floridians continue to reel from the effects of last month’s torrential rains and flooding, I respectfully request you consider Governor Scott’s appeal for a Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance for the five impacted counties.

Respectfully,

Marco Rubio

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Rubio Demands Action From FEMA On Panhandle Flood Assistance

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today demanded action from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regarding reimbursements for flood recovery projects completed by local governments in Northwest Florida.

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“Nearly six months have passed since these storms devastated Northwest Florida and the community has overcome many of the challenges that have followed,” wrote Rubio. “Thirty-seven of the 74 FEMA approved projects have been completed by local governments, however it has come to my attention that FEMA has not reimbursed the communities for these approved expenditures.

“The city of Pensacola, which was hit especially hard by the storms, has spent nearly $3.2 million on these projects and is still waiting for reimbursement from FEMA,” added Rubio. “I respectfully ask for an update on the 74 approved projects associated with the April storms in Northwest Florida and an explanation for the delayed reimbursements for the 37 projects that have already been completed.”

A PDF of the letter is available here. The full text is below:

October 20, 2014

Mr. W. Craig Fugate

Administrator

Federal Emergency Management Agency

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

500 C Street S.W.

Washington, DC 20472

Administrator Fugate,

I write you today regarding the status of FEMA reimbursement for several approved projects in Northwest Florida. It is my understanding that FEMA has not reimbursed the local municipalities impacted by flooding which occurred earlier this year.

As you know, in late April, Northwest Florida experienced historic storms with some areas seeing more than two feet of rain. The rainfall resulted in massive flooding with several roads and bridges being washed away and subsequently FEMA was brought in to assess the damage. FEMA officials identified 74 projects that qualified for federal assistance and the affected local governments initiated work on those projects immediately following the storm.

Nearly six months have passed since these storms devastated Northwest Florida and the community has overcome many of the challenges that have followed. Thirty-seven of the 74 FEMA approved projects have been completed by local governments, however it has come to my attention that FEMA has not reimbursed the communities for these approved expenditures. The city of Pensacola, which was hit especially hard by the storms, has spent nearly $3.2 million on these projects and is still waiting for reimbursement from FEMA. 

I respectfully ask for an update on the 74 approved projects associated with the April storms in Northwest Florida and an explanation for the delayed reimbursements for the 37 projects that have already been completed. I look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely,

Marco Rubio

United States Senator

Associa Making Remarkable Progress with Relief Efforts in Los Cabos

Associa, the nation’s largest community association management firm, is making a dramatic impact with its humanitarian and restoration efforts in the hardest hit regions of Los Cabos, Mexico in the aftermath of Hurricane Odile.

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It’s been only two weeks since the Category 3 hurricane came ashore, and thanks in part to Associa’s quick response, the region is already showing signs of resurgence as survival supplies have arrived and reconstruction within communities is underway.  The company’s non-profit agency, Associa Cares, gave more than $100,000 to families in need and so far Associa is one of the only organizations able to bring construction supplies into the country via ground and air.

“We just received our third airfreight shipment of supplies and have been working non-stop for almost a week with our restoration experts on the ground,” says Associa Senior Vice President Chris Harrison, who is personally assisting with the efforts in Mexico.

The majority of all properties in the area suffered moderate to severe damage, including the Associa Mexico office and 15 Associa-managed communities. More than half of those communities have been fully restored throughout the common areas including debris clean-up, pool restoration, landscaping remodeling and safety and security measures taken to board-up broken out windows and doors.

“I’m extremely impressed with how quickly our Associa teams put the crisis plans into action and worked tirelessly to face any and all issues that arose,” says Associa Executive Vice President & COO Joey Carona. “You have plans for things like this, but until it happens you just don’t know how you’ll truly react.  I’ve got to say the Associa family has shown its true spirit and commitment to taking care of its employees and communities, and I couldn’t be more proud.”

Building successful communities for 35 years, Associa is North America’s largest community association management firm and serves its clients with local knowledge, national resources and comprehensive expertise. Based in Dallas, Associa and its 8,000 employees operate more than 150 branch offices in the United States, Mexico and Canada. To learn more about Associa and its charitable organization, Associa Cares, go to www.associaonline.com or www.associacares.com.

New novel from former Reagan speechwriter challenges both sides in climate change debate

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On September 21, more than 300,000 people converged on New York City for the “People’s Climate March,” demanding immediate action on climate change.

On Sept. 23, President Barack Obama met with 120 world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit to press for bold new initiatives to fight climate change worldwide.

But even if the entire climate-change agenda were adopted tomorrow, former Reagan speechwriter Kevin Hopkins contends in his new novel “Skylight,” the effect on the world’s climate–and the earth’s future–would be negligible.

An Uncomfortable Truth

“The uncomfortable truth in the climate-change debate isn’t that the underlying science may be wrong,” says Hopkins. “The uncomfortable truth is that, even if the science is right-even if the world is hurtling toward an environmental nightmare-then even the boldest proposals in the climate-change quiver will do almost nothing to prevent that catastrophic outcome.”

Hopkins cites research from the American Enterprise Institute demonstrating that, even if the entire industrialized world were to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, the most widely accepted climate model shows that, by that date, average global temperatures would have declined by only 0.1 degrees–far too small to have even the slightest beneficial effect on the environment.

Solving the Climate-Change Problem

In “Skylight,” a novel built around a global atmospheric catastrophe and its aftermath, Hopkins proposes a new approach to warding off environmental disaster that is designed to actually solve the climate-change problem but in a way that preserves, rather than penalizes, people’s economic well-being. It is a conceptual approach–perhaps the only one on the market–that has the chance to win over climate-change adherents and skeptics alike.

“I chose fiction for this message because I believe it’s the only vehicle with a hope of bringing people together to protect the Earth,” Hopkins says. “Environmentalists and economic-growth advocates have been talking past each other in the political world for decades, with very little to show for it. If a global catastrophe is on the horizon-and if we truly want to prevent it-then we must do much, much more than we’ve done to date. And we must do it now.”

About Skylight

The book’s description of “Skylight” reads as follows:

“The Catastrophe had been predicted for decades. But it arrives with a swiftness no one had expected. On an otherwise glorious October evening, the air at high altitudes suddenly becomes unbreathable, depleted of oxygen. In minutes, 12 million people die.

 “No one knows when-or whether-it will happen again.

“Energy executive Martin Fall is with his family in Denver on the night of The Catastrophe. Miraculously left alive, he embarks on the long journey home to Los Angeles as society begins collapsing all around him. Within months, the city-like others throughout the country-is on the verge of breakdown, overrun with 80 million migrants seeking the safety of lower altitudes. Fall is lost among them, struggling for a reason to go on.

“But soon he has no choice. Trapped in a web of lies from those he trusted, allied with others he barely knows, he must risk his life for a cause he scarcely comprehends-but one that may be the world’s only salvation.”

Skylight, published by Sweetwater Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort Publishing Company, is available online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble (search for “Skylight Kevin Hopkins”).

Praise for “Skylight”:

“Skylight… is one of the most intelligent discussions yet of the trade-offs that our society faces between energy production and environmental protection… The book’s clarity and insights are a very valuable addition to the public debate on these vital issues.”

-Jack Cox, former Chief of Staff, U.S. Congress