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Blog Category: Disaster relief

Commerce Department Supports Disaster Relief Across the Country

A tornado funnel cloud

Only a few weeks ago, an EF5 tornado ripped through Oklahoma.  The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season just began, and forecasts predict that it will be a very active season. Whenever events like these may occur, the Department of Commerce is ready to help communities across the country prepare for and recover from natural disasters.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is one of the Commerce bureaus that assist in disaster-recovery efforts. Just last month, EDA announced grants totaling $54.1 million for disaster relief to 15 communities in 12 states and territories. For example, EDA announced a $20 million investment that will help redevelop the 20th Street corridor in Joplin, Missouri, where a devastating tornado in May 2011 claimed 161 lives, flattened large sections of the city, and destroyed more than 7,000 housing units.

Some other recently announced recovery projects include:

  • rebuilding a flood-damaged railroad bridge across the Judith River in Montana that provides the sole freight link for numerous farming communities;
  • providing communities in New England that were devastated by Tropical Strom Irene with the means to provide technical assistance to small businesses and local governments; and
  • rebuilding public infrastructure in downtown Minot, North Dakota, an area that was destroyed by flooding of the Mouse River.

These projects are part of a $200 million appropriation made by Congress to EDA to help with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support in communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011.

$200 Million Post-Disaster Funding to Help Jumpstart Regional Economies

Official EDA seal

Guest blog post by Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matt Erskine

When a natural disaster hits a community—whether it is a flood, a tornado, or any other kind of disaster—it does more than wreak havoc on homes and personal lives. It also has devastating, long-term effects on the economic life of those communities, destroying vital infrastructure, such as public utilities, transportation links, and communications systems on which businesses depend.

I’m happy to announce today that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is making available $200 million in funds for communities affected by disasters in fiscal year 2011. These funds are designed to mitigate those long-term effects on business infrastructure and allow communities to bring their economies, and the jobs that come with them, back to life.

It’s no secret that the funding EDA provides is vital to ensuring the long-term economic health of communities affected by a disaster. In Joplin, Missouri, for example, EDA provided $341,000 after that community was devastated by tornadoes in 2010. Those funds allowed the state to hire economic recovery coordinators who were instrumental in building strong public-private partnerships that have been critical to restoring the economic vitality of that region.