WASHINGTON, June 26 -- The office of Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., issued the following news release:
The Senate Appropriations Committee today unanimously accepted U.S. Senator Mark Pryor's provision encouraging FEMA to prioritize grant funding for tornado sirens and safe rooms. This action is part of the multi-pronged approach Pryor is taking to help Arkansans recover from devastating tornadoes and prevent future tragedies in the state.
"From day one, I've been on the ground to see how I can help our neighbors in need pick up the pieces and get back on their feet. We've seen incredible progress, but there's no question that more work needs to be done. That's why I'm working every avenue to expedite relief," Pryor said. "I want Arkansans to know that I'll be there for them until the recovery and rebuilding process is complete."
Since tornadoes tore through the state in April, Pryor has taken a multi-pronged approach to help expedite recovery efforts and increase preparedness for future natural disasters:
* The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved Pryor's provision encouraging FEMA to prioritize grant requests for sirens and saferooms under its Preparedness and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. This provision is now part of the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, which will head to the full Senate.
* Today, Pryor met with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Donovan to identify available funding that could be used to boost recovery efforts in the state.
* Earlier this month, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced Pryor's measure to make Arkansas communities devastated by this spring's tornadoes eligible to receive additional Community Block Development Grant funds for the reconstruction of public facilities like water and sewer infrastructure, demolition, and school buildings. The funds can also cover the costs of building storm shelters to prevent the future loss of life. The provision was unanimously accepted into the Transportation and Housing Appropriations Bill and will now head to the full Senate.
* In May, Pryor introduced a measure to ensure Arkansas homeowners whose property was destroyed or damaged qualify for some of the same tax benefits that Congress has granted in previous years after major disaster such as Hurricane Katrina.
Pryor, along with the Arkansas delegation, secured a major disaster declaration for Faulkner, Pulaski, Randolph, and White Counties. Under this designation, Arkansans are eligible to apply for Individual Assistance to cover the costs of temporary housing, home repairs and construction, transportation, food commodities and coupons, crisis counseling, disaster unemployment assistance, legal services, Small Business Administration low interest loans, and medical, dental, and funeral expenses. He also supported the state's request for Public Assistance for Clay, Cleburne, Faulkner, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Randolph, Sharp, and White Counties to help cover the costs of emergency work and the repair and replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.