U.S. DOT releases emergency funding for various natural disasters

October 5, 2020

Tyson Fisher

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has released more than half a billion dollars in emergency relief funds for the various natural disasters that have devastated large swathes of the nation.

On Sept. 29, the U.S. DOT released $574 million in emergency relief funds to 39 states and Puerto Rico. The funds are for repairs to roads and bridges damaged by natural disasters, including storms, floods and wildfires. Among the funding are:

  • $64 million to California, including $34 million for November 2018 wildfires.
  • $46 million to Nebraska for winter storms and flooding in 2019.
  • $27 million to Alabama for storms and flooding in 2020.
  • $25 million to Michigan for flooding in the central part of the state in 2020.
  • $22 million to Florida for Hurricane Michael in 2018.
  • $21 million to North Carolina for Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

According to a news release, the Federal Highway Administration reimburses states for eligible expenses associated with damage from natural disasters and other emergency situations.

Funds help to pay for the reconstruction or replacement of damaged highways and bridges along with the arrangement of detours and replacement of guardrails or other damaged safety devices. To date, the Trump administration has issued nearly $4.9 billion in emergency relief funds.

On Sept. 25, FHWA issued a “quick release” of $460,000 in emergency relief funds to the Washington State Department of Transportation. That funding is for repairing damages from recent wildfires. Quick release funds are an initial installment of funds used to restore essential traffic and to limit further highway damage, which can help long-term repair work begin more quickly.

Oregon also received similar quick release funds for natural disasters. On Sept. 16, the Oregon Department of Transportation received $5 million to repair infrastructure damage caused by wildfires. More than $1 million was given to the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service for wildfire damages around the Lassen National Forest in northeastern California.

This year alone, historic natural disasters have caused major damage across the United States. In California, record-breaking wildfires have shut down highways, destroyed thousands of structures and killed more than 30 people. So far this year, more than 8,000 wildfires in the state have torched more than 4 million acres, surpassing the previous record of 1.67 million acres set in 2018. Five of the six largest wildfires in California history occurred this year.

In August, Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm, tying an 1856 storm as the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the state. Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a Category 3 storm. In September, Hurricane Sally struck Alabama, the first hurricane to make landfall in the state since 2004’s Hurricane Ivan. LL

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Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.