In the aftermath of the major winter storm wreaking havoc on parts of the state, U.S. Senator Jack Reed took a firsthand look at the flood-ravaged areas earlier this week. The storm, accompanied by heavy rain and melting snow, led to power outages, overflowing rivers and streams, road closures, and significant flooding of homes and businesses. Rescue operations, including boat rescues and evacuations by firefighters, were conducted to ensure the safety of affected residents.
As the state braces for another potential winter storm, Senator Reed, alongside state and local officials, convened to discuss flood recovery efforts and emphasize the importance of preparedness. The senator met with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), as well as community leaders, to assess the recent flood damage, spanning local residences, businesses, and municipal infrastructure.
Senator Reed underscored the top priority of ensuring people’s safety, particularly in anticipation of the impending storm that could exacerbate flooding and power outages over the weekend. He urged residents to be vigilant, take precautions, and document the damage according to FEMA guidelines, emphasizing that cleanup and recovery should not be delayed.
Acknowledging the leadership of Governor Dan McKee, who signed a Declaration of Disaster, Senator Reed expressed gratitude for the coordinated efforts at the state level. The state is currently collecting information to estimate the costs of the storm damage, with the possibility of formally requesting a Major Disaster Declaration from the President of the United States to trigger federal aid.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Reed committed to working towards securing federal assistance if the state qualifies. He highlighted the ongoing assessment of the damage, emphasizing the need for expedited disaster relief funding. Senator Reed commended the collaborative efforts of cities, towns, state, and federal officials in estimating the damage caused by the storm, stressing the importance of mutual support.
Looking ahead, Senator Reed emphasized the necessity of making communities more flood-resilient and pledged to continue working on securing federal investments for such efforts. Beyond flood recovery, he is actively involved in delivering flood mitigation assistance, as demonstrated by the $12 billion allocated for nationwide flood mitigation efforts in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs law passed in 2021.
President Joe Biden recently granted a major disaster declaration related to flooding and tornadoes in Rhode Island from last September, responding to a request supported by Senator Reed. The senator is urging Congress to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) before its expiration on February 2, 2024. Last year, he voted to replenish FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund and advocated for additional funding for various disaster response programs.
While Congress works towards a final appropriations agreement for the rest of fiscal year 2024, Senator Reed highlighted the support available for businesses through flood relief programs provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). As the state remains on alert for potential challenges posed by another winter storm, Senator Reed remains committed to addressing the immediate needs of flood victims and advocating for long-term resilience against climate-related disasters.
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