Washington, D.C.—U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) voted for passage of the Small State and Rural Rescue Act. This legislation enhances rural communities access to federal disaster aid by enhancing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Small State and Rural Advocate’s role in developing a local or state governments disaster designation requests. Under this bill, FEMA’s expert Advocate would be empowered to collect material and evidence to support disaster aid applications and ease the burden of challenges that small and rural communities face following a disaster.
“Many rural communities have smaller, more nimble local governments that are already stretched thin enough following a natural disaster and are tasked with the difficult challenge of conducting the data collection necessary to submit successful aid requests to the federal government,” said Congressman Barr. “I saw this first-hand in the aftermath of severe flooding in Nicholas County last year. It is unacceptable to me that rural communities have been left behind following natural disasters and I’m confident this bill can correct that problem going forward.”
“Rural communities in Central New York and across the country often lack the necessary resources to navigate excessive bureaucratic red tape in the disaster declaration process. Because of this, many disaster-stricken communities fail to receive the necessary funding,” said U.S. Congressman John Katko (R-NY), who is leading the bill. “That is why I am excited to announce the passage of the Small State and Rural Rescue Act. This bipartisan legislation will ensure small and rural communities like mine and Congressman Barr’s receive fair treatment in the disaster aid process and strengthen FEMA’s abilities to coordinate with local and state officials when assessing damages from a disaster. As Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over FEMA, I am proud to work to ensure federal disaster aid is delivered efficiently to those who need it, and I thank Congressman Barr for his continued support.”
On July 29 and July 30, 2021, Nicholas County experienced tremendous rain that caused severe damage to 88 homes and 29 businesses. Shortly after the flooding, Congressman Barr visited Nicholas County and the City of Carlisle to survey the damage. Congressman Barr then strongly advocated for individual assistance to homeowners FEMA disaster aid following the disaster through letters to President Joe Biden and calls with FEMA officials. FEMA ultimately denied the aid request for Nicholas County.