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

Rubio, Nelson Introduce Hurricane Forecast Improvement Act

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With the 2015 hurricane season approaching, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today introduced legislation to improve guidance for hurricane track, intensity, and storm surge forecasts.

The “Hurricane Forecast Improvement Act of 2015” would codify the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project, which aims to reduce the loss of life, injury, and damage to the economy by reducing errors of tracking and intensity forecasts.

“Americans along the east coast have unfortunately seen first-hand how devastating hurricanes can be,” said Rubio. “Providing more accurate tracking and intensity forecasts will allow people to better prepare for the safety of their families, homes, and businesses. The Hurricane Forecast Improvement Act is a common sense approach that will advance these goals.”

“I’ve seen countless hurricanes hit Florida during my time in public service; I’ve seen the damage they can cause,” said Nelson. “And that’s why we should do anything we can to help people better prepare for these storms in order to avoid the loss of life and property.”