Bi-Partisan Flood Relief Package Clears Senate

(HARRISBURG) – The Senate of Pennsylvania today approved a bi-partisan, eight bill package designed to provide relief to those affected by heavy flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene. Legislation authored by Senators John R. Gordner (R-Columbia), Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), John P. Blake (D-Lackawanna), Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) and John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne) was introduced in September, shortly after the devastating floods.

“Regardless of political party or municipal boundaries, the flooding affected our entire region, and we steadily worked together to bring these bills to votes in a responsible manner so that we can provide financial assistance, infrastructure funding and tax breaks to those who were impacted by this disaster,” said Senator Gordner.

“As the flood clean-up continues, it is evident that existing programs are not enough to help individuals, families and businesses who lost everything,” said Senator Baker. “In the business district of Shickshinny, only two of 26 businesses are fully operational weeks after the flooding. These bills will help close the gap left after private insurance and federal aid have been exhausted, and support flood-damaged communities, families and businesses as they struggle to rebuild after the double-hit of two historic natural disasters.”

“The devastation caused by Irene and Lee are still being felt today and will be for a very long time,” said Senator Yaw. “These bills, if approved by the House and signed by the Governor, will go a long way to aiding in the recovery effort, but more will need to be done, including a change in policy on the state level for the dredging and cleaning of streams and permitting procedures.”

The legislation approved by the Senate included:

Senate Bill 1264 by Senator Baker to provide for supplemental state assistance to those who have exhausted federal flood benefits and qualify under income eligibility guidelines.

Senate Bill 1266 by Senator Gordner to authorize the borrowing of $150 million for flood-related highway, bridge and rail rehabilitation projects, as well as flood control and disaster mitigation projects.

Senate Bill 1267 by Senator Blake to provide for real estate tax abatement for properties substantially damaged by flooding.

Senate Bill 1268 by Senator Gordner authorizing a county-by-county list of highways damaged by the flood that require repair and rehabilitation.

Senate Bill 1269 by Senator Yaw authorizing a county-by-county list of bridges and rail facilities damaged by the flood that require repair and rehabilitation.

Senate Bill 1271 by Senator Yudichak authorizing a county-by-county list of flood control and disaster mitigation projects.

Senate Bill 1297 by Senator Baker establishing a low-interest loan program for small businesses damaged by flooding.

Senate Bill 1323 by Senator Yaw to provide interest rate assistance and loan guarantees to assist farmers in recovering from the natural disasters.

The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration, where members have introduced companion bills to the Senate package.

“We intend to get this legislative package to the Governor’s desk in December, so that we can complement the federal government in providing relief that is so important to our communities,” said Senator Gordner.

Contact: Diane McNaughton

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