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Getting help recovering from disasters should be easier, faster

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It seems we are seeing it happen more frequently. Heavy rains, often several inches at a time, leading to flash flooding. The type of flooding that puts lives in danger, and damages roads and other infrastructure. That is when the government steps in to help, with Governors touring damaged communities and requesting federal disaster assistance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency in recent weeks granted disaster declarations for 17 Wisconsin communities, including La Crosse from the storms that caused damage this past July. But we’re learning that such declarations, which free up federal money to pay to repair the damage, often have a lot of strings attached. Many communities eligible for help don’t know how to request it, or may have to wait years before the federal help arrives. We heard that Coon Valley is still waiting for the government to write a check to pay for the storms of 2018. That is why some Wisconsin lawmakers are introducing legislation designed to speed up and simplify the process. It would require Wisconsin Emergency Management to train all Wisconsin communities how to apply for the funding. And it would make it easier and faster for cities and counties to receive the federal money. Those areas hit hard by flooding have enough work to do trying to recover without the government making it more difficult.