Prep now for extra disaster funds

Mar 17, 2019

Congress appropriated $1.7 billion for communities, like the Marianas, hit by natural disasters in 2018. There is another $1.2 billion in legislation the House passed in January and the Senate takes up later this month. The funds are called Community Development Block Grants-Disaster Recovery, or CDBG-DR. But unlike the Community Development Block Grants the Marianas and other states and territories receive annually, CDBG-DR funds require significant advance planning. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which qualified under Public Law 115-123, covering 2017 disasters, are just beginning to tap their CDBG-DR monies. 

I wrote Governor Ralph Torres this week to encourage his administration to begin preparing to meet the CDBG-DR requirements. The Commonwealth will have to submit a plan to use the funds for long-term recovery and restoration of infrastructure and housing and for economic revitalization. Websites will have to be built so the public can have full view of procurements and contracting. And the Commonwealth will have to have robust financial controls so that CDBG-DR funds are only used for needs not met by FEMA funding. This can all take as long as six months.