4:44 PM EST

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL 18th

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 280) mourning the horrific loss of life caused by the floods and mudslides that occurred in October 2005 in Central America and Mexico and expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should do everything possible to assist the affected people and communities, as amended.

4:45 PM EST

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL 18th

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, devastating storms affected most of the Western Hemisphere this hurricane season, and many people throughout the region will spend the next few months and years rebuilding their lives and their communities. Many people in the U.S., as well as our neighbors in Central America, are in this situation in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Stan, Wilma, and Beta.

These hurricanes and other tropical storms that barreled through the Caribbean, along Mexico's gulf coast, and along parts of Central America and up to our shores, brought heavy winds and destructive rainfall. The torrential downpours caused widespread flooding and severe mudslides, killing an estimated 2,000 people and affecting millions of others across Central America, including the people of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Some of these areas sustained severe damage

to residential and commercial infrastructure and crippled destruction of transportation as well as food crops.

In some of the hardest hit areas, schools, homes, roads, hospitals, and other buildings were simply washed away. Some villages in Guatemala were swept away by mudslides and have been turned instead into mass graves. Our prayers are with these communities.

House Con. Res. 280 was introduced last month to urge expedited humanitarian relief, as well as stronger efforts to provide technical assistance to Central American governments in order to strengthen the capacity of first responders and governmental institutions at the national, provincial, and local levels. Furthermore, this legislation urges assistance which targets immediate and long-term infrastructure needs, with a special emphasis on improvements that aim to increase emergency preparedness

and withstand future natural disasters.

I urge my colleagues to support House Con. Res. 280.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.