Curbelo on Keys Recovery: Debris Removal Must Be Completed Swiftly, Housing Also Needed

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Washington, D.C., October 24, 2017 | Joanna Rodriguez (202-225-2778) | comments

With debris removal continuing to be a problem throughout South Florida, Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) and other Members of the Florida delegation have been urging FEMA to act swiftly as local municipalities struggle to obtain sufficient federal support.

Curbelo and other Members of the Florida delegation reiterated their concerns and constituents' frustrations with the debris removal delays, and urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to act swiftly.

During an interview on “Morning Magazine with Bill Becker” today, Curbelo discussed his concerns about debris removal throughout the Florida Keys and why it needs to get done quickly. Curbelo also addressed the affordable housing crisis and his hopes for smarter, stronger affordable housing as rebuilding efforts move forward.

“The government has to do its part,” Curbelo said when asked about debris removal. “We can’t rebuild every resort and every single place of employment, but we can certainly get the infrastructure back up and running; get the roads cleared; and make sure that everyone here is aware of the tax relief that we already passed. It’s going to help some employers keep paying their employees and is going to help everyone recover some of the costs of property and casualty losses that they have incurred as a result of the storm.”

A partial transcript of the interview can be found below. Audio of the full interview is available here. Curbelo’s comments about hurricane recovery and debris removal begin at 1:28.

Curbelo Discusses Hurricane Recovery and Continued Debris Removal
U.S. 1 Radio News 104.1 FM
October 24, 2017
https://youtu.be/3XAil0hH26c

U.S. Radio 1’s Bill Becker: “Meanwhile, we are getting through the recovery here from Hurricane Irma. What have you been doing in Congress on this to help us out?”

Representative Carlos Curbelo: “From our perspective here, now the main priority is debris removal. Why Bill? Number one: it’s obviously a safety hazard. Number two: when it comes to tourism it’s obviously important to get the Keys cleaned up so that people can see that it’s open for business, so that people actually want to visit the Florida Keys and spend some of their time and money there. It breaks my heart every time I read a story about one of these wonderful resorts that, regrettably, has to lay people off because they aren’t going to be open for a while.

“So, the government has to do its part. We can’t rebuild every resort and every single place of employment, but we can certainly get the infrastructure back up and running; get the roads cleared; and make sure that everyone here is aware of the tax relief that we already passed. It’s going to help some employers keep paying their employees and is going to help everyone recover some of the costs of property and casualty losses that they have incurred as a result of the storm.” 

Becker: “And, of course, a lot of people here lost housing and the County here is looking for ways to get that affordable housing back on track, but we were in a crisis situation already before the hurricane and Irma just took out a lot of that stock of affordable housing.”

Curbelo: “That’s right, Bill. And what I’ve told Roman Gastesi and some of the other elected leaders in the Florida Keys is that, as difficult as this is, we have an opportunity here. We have an opportunity to build smarter and stronger, and that means building affordable housing so that people can move back to the Florida Keys and work in the Florida Keys. This, as you said, is a major challenge that we’ve had for many years. So, some of these trailer parks that were devastated, I see major opportunities there to build a better future for the Florida Keys . Now, this is not my decision. All of these decisions are local. So, I certainly don’t have a direct say, but I can provide input and to the extent that the federal government can help and encourage better building and stronger building, I’m going to do that.”

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