- President Donald Trump on Thursday signed a $19 billion natural disaster relief and recovery bill that includes billions for infrastructure repair and replacement.
- H.R. 2157, the “Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019," according to a White House press release, includes $3.3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to repair damage caused by natural disasters during the last three years, as well as to invest in resiliency and flood protection projects. The Defense Department has been allocated $2.7 billion to help repair or rebuild damaged military installations, with $1 billion set aside for facilities damaged during 2018's Hurricane Michael, such as Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City Beach, Florida. The bill also provides $1.6 billion for post-disaster road and bridge repairs through the Federal Highway Administration's Emergency Relief Fund.
- The bill also contains a provision that unlocks $8.9 billion in aid to Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from 2017's Hurricane Maria, plus gives the U.S. territory another $900 million in additional relief funding. In addition, it provides additional resources for wildfire suppression activities conducted by the U.S. Forest Service.
Tyndall is just one of the casualties that the U.S. military incurred during the last few hurricane seasons. The Florida Gulf Coast air base was all but destroyed and will cost an estimated $3 billion to repair, according to a report from National Public Radio. However, the rebuilt air base will also be able to withstand 180-mile-per-hour winds, well beyond what Hurricane Michael served up last year.
Also included in the bill is help for Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The Marine Corps base sustained approximately $3.6 billion in damage from Hurricane Florence, which stalled over the area in September 2018 and dumped record amounts of rain. Of that estimate, about $2 billion will have to be spent on demolition and new construction, while another $1 billion would go for repairs.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom chimed in upon the bill's signing and thanked President Trump and Congress for providing the state with "much-needed" relief after wildfires and other natural disasters struck California during the last few years.
An important element of the bill's scope of funding is resiliency and prevention, something that the government has been willing to invest in, especially after Hurricane Harvey devastated the Texas Gulf Coast and the Houston metro area in 2017.
For instance, the $6 billion America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which President Trump signed in October of last year, provides for up to $2.2 billion of federal funding for a barrier that will help protect the Texas coastline from future flooding. The plan, which includes construction of highway and railroad floodgates, seawall upgrades, drainage infrastructure and other flood control measures, could cost as much as $32 billion.