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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, March 1, 2024
HomeCommentaryLegislature CornerLegislature Corner: Federal Government Increases Assistance for Hurricane Recovery

Legislature Corner: Federal Government Increases Assistance for Hurricane Recovery

Stacey Plaskett has served as the Virgin Islands delegate to Congress since 2015. (Source file photo)

Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett released the following statement:

“I am tremendously pleased to announce that President Biden has agreed to raise the federal cost share of all FEMA assistance grants for hurricane recovery in the Virgin Islands from 90 to 95 percent in all cases, including retroactively.  In addition, President Biden has also agreed to raise the federal cost share to 98 percent in the case of larger critical infrastructure rebuilding projects approved before Sept. 30, 2024, and completed before 2026.

“As we know, the Virgin Islands government has been allocated billions of federal dollars for hurricane recovery projects—for our schools, hospitals, water, power, communications and other critical infrastructure. Until now, those projects would have required the Virgin Islands government to provide 10 percent of the grant in local matching funds (90 percent to be paid with federal funding). President Biden’s declaration has cut that cost share requirement to just 2 percent for critical rebuilding projects approved before September 30, 2024, and completed over the next two years, and 5 percent otherwise.

“This will allow the Virgin Islands more federal financial assistance to push through the most critical projects so that the territory is given the best opportunity to see our hurricane recovery through to completion in a timely fashion.

“I would like to congratulate Governor Bryan and his team for their consistent engagement with the Biden-Harris Administration and FEMA. In 2018, when Congress passed the changes to the Stafford Act and it was apparent the Virgin Islands would be receiving exponential funding for the recovery that would require a 10% match, our office and the Mapp Administration began the discussion with FEMA to waive that amount. The Bryan administration immediately took up that press for a cost share waiver with FEMA. Governor Bryan and his team’s willingness to bifurcate the request to two categories and concentrate a larger waiver on critical infrastructure recovery (where there is the most “skin in the game”) played an important role in securing this important federal cost-share increase.

“In my conversation today with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, she emphasized three critical factors that contributed to the decision: (1) the ability to use the Insular Areas Act, which allows federal agencies to waive federal cost shares for Insular Areas (which excludes Puerto Rico); (2) The additional analysis provided by the Bryan Administration which showed the tremendous per capita impact of the recent disasters in the Virgin Islands (which is higher than any other area); (3) and finally, the relentless advocacy of my office and the Bryan Administration.

I would also like to thank President Biden for his willingness to provide this critical amendment to the FEMA disaster declaration for the Virgin Islands.”

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