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ICYMI: Rubio: Congress Must See that Victims of Hurricane Michael are not Forgotten

Oct 25, 2019 | Press Releases

Congress must see that victims of Hurricane Michael are not forgotten
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
October 24, 2019
Tallahassee Democrat
When I arrived in Marianna five days after Hurricane Michael, the first thing I noticed was the scale of the devastation. All around me, trees had been snapped in half or were permanently contorted. A layer of downed logs lay everywhere.
These forests have been the lifeblood of communities for generations. They sustained the Panhandle’s timber industry, and provided dignified work to Floridians. Timber is a long-term business, but it only took hours for the hurricane to level entire plots of land.

Congress must take our responsibility seriously. How do we help an industry that takes decades to rebuild?
First, we need to ensure communities have resources available. On the Appropriations Committee, I included guidance for agencies when dealing with the forestry damages caused by Hurricane Michael, including developing a sustainable plan to replace lost private production with timber from Apalachicola National Forest. I secured $480 million for the Emergency Forest Restoration Program for non-industrial timber restoration to re-establish the region’s private timber base as soon as possible.
Earlier this summer, I urged Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to craft a forest restoration block grant to cover a large portion of debris removal and replanting costs. I also requested that the grant compensate landowners for the value of trees lost as a direct consequence of Hurricane Michael. Negotiations between the Department of Agriculture and the State of Florida remain ongoing, and I am optimistic they will be resolved quickly.
The second step is to mitigate the damage caused by future disasters. We cannot prevent hurricanes, but we can make sure that future timber losses due to natural disasters receive tax relief. I joined Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Roger Wicker and Tom Cotton in introducing the Forest Recovery Act to do just that.
Read the rest here.