|1:08 PM EDT||
Jo Ann Emerson, R-MO 8th
Mrs. EMERSON. Mr. Chairman, I deeply respect my colleagues coming here and raising the subject of increased funds in this bill for the Corps of Engineers. I also want to thank Mr. Frelinghuysen and Mr. Visclosky for understanding this very important need. That money, in construction accounts and the Mississippi River and Tributaries account, will go to address an immediate need to repair and rebuild flood protection so that the victims of the historic flooding all up and down
the Mississippi River and the Missouri River can recover from the terrible losses they have suffered.
It's not just the people in the southern Missouri district I represent who need help; it's also people in Louisiana, in Iowa, in North Dakota, in Kentucky, in Mississippi, Illinois and a host of other States.
Throughout the country, people who rely on flood protection to shelter their homes, their schools, their churches, and their workplaces have seen their lives and their livelihoods totally disrupted. In one Missouri county alone, the economic losses from flooding are estimated at over $300 million. In the entire MR&T, the total exceeds 4 billion.
Without the certainty of future repairs to the levee systems that protect them, these Americans will remain at risk. They will be unable to rebuild. They'll find it difficult to get insurance. They'll watch their family businesses slip away with the receding floodwaters. Long after the disaster, there will be many, many personal disasters--even if it never rains another drop.
I know that some of our colleagues have raised concerns that this funding will come at a cost to future years of high-speed rail development. I greatly appreciate the desire to retain the promise of funding for those projects, but I must ask them to weigh the immediate need for flood protection against the future need for high-speed rail.
If these repairs aren't completed by next spring, a flood protection system that barely holds against the record flood of 2011 will be in extreme danger in 2012. The Corps would not have the same tools at its disposal to avert flooding in many parts of the country, including major urban areas along the river, like Memphis, Tennessee, just for example.
The funds in this bill respond to an unanticipated disaster of enormous magnitude. Failure to fund the effort to reset the levee system nationwide is an unnecessary risk with widespread economic and public safety implications.
I urge my colleagues to recognize the certainty this funding provides to distressed families all over the country, and I ask them to support a responsible arrangement to fund the Corps of Engineers during a very difficult budgetary climate for the Congress and the Nation.
In closing, I'm very, very grateful for the support of Chairman Frelinghuysen for this funding increase.