STATEMENT OF GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR
ON HURRICANE KATRINA RELIEF PACKAGE
From: Office of the Governor 12/19/05 GCN
"Over the last few days, agreements have been reached in Congress on important initiatives to help the Mississippi Coast and South Mississippi recover and rebuild from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. On Friday, adoption of new tax legislation that will be instrumental in our rebuilding was led by Senator Trent Lott. Today, conferees from the House and Senate agreed on an unprecedented $29 billion relief package whose development was spearheaded by Senator Thad Cochran. Given this agreement and Senator Cochran's determined efforts I am encouraged Congress will soon pass this package.
"Mississippi owes a deep debt of gratitude to Senator Cochran. As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he has done a magnificent job of securing the essential federal assistance that will help the victims of Hurricane Katrina rebuild their lives and livelihoods. Not only his position but also his personal stature in the Senate made it possible to get this done, and I congratulate and thank him for his courage and commitment.
"Mississippi is blessed to have the best pair of United States Senators in America, which was proved this week."
"The package contains many elements that are critical to our future. One of the primary ones will allow grants of up to $150,000 to homeowners whose homes were flooded even though they lived outside the flood plain and did not have flood insurance because the federal government said they didn't need it. This will boost the prospects of recovery for thousands of families who had homeowners insurance, but not flood insurance, and lost their homes to the storm surge. These grants will be awarded under eligibility guidelines and safeguards designed to ensure that only owner-occupied dwellings will qualify. Grants can not be made for more than the value of the loss, less payments from FEMA or homeowners insurance.
"Other elements of the package include needed federal assistance for local law enforcement, water and sewer improvements, highways, restoration of marshlands and oyster reefs, workforce training, federal facilities in the state, and operational funding for battered educational facilities from K-12 to community colleges and institutions of higher learning.
"Having spent much of the past two weeks in Washington, I know it was difficult for people from other parts of America to comprehend the vastness of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Our two Senators led a Congressional delegation that worked hard and worked together to help Katrina victims. From Congressman Roger Wicker's efforts as a House conferee to Congressman Chip Pickering's crucial role in trying to help our healthcare system, the entire delegation, Democrat and Republican, worked together.
"I am also grateful to House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Chairman Jerry Lewis of the House Appropriations Committee for their personal support and to the Republican leadership in the House, who were indispensable in meeting these urgent needs of Mississippians.
"Hurricane Katrina wiped out many things on the Mississippi Coast, but she did not * could not * wipe out our resolve to recover and rebuild bigger and better than before. I can think of no better Christmas present than final Congressional approval of this hurricane relief package."