WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the heels of a new report estimating nearly $18 million damages to Great Lakes Harbors – including $12,570,000 to Cleveland Harbor – as a result of Hurricane Sandy, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today called on the United States Army Corps of Engineers to commit funds from the Hurricane Sandy Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill to be used for the alleviation of storm damage to Cleveland Harbor.
“Cleveland Harbor holds both commercial and recreational significance to Northeastern Ohio and must be protected,” Brown said. “I will continue to fight to ensure that Cleveland Harbor receives the relief funding it needs to maintain the jobs, income, and importance it provides the region.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) estimates strong winds and waves from Hurricane Sandy resulted in $17.7 million in damages to Great Lakes harbors including $12,570,000 to Cleveland Harbor.
Congress passed $50.5 billion in supplemental appropriations to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy and to rebuild and strengthen areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, including $821 million for expenses related to consequences of the storm. In report language accompanying the legislation, the Senate Committee on Appropriations provided assurances that Great Lakes federal navigation projects damaged as a result of Hurricane Sandy would be eligible for some of those funds.
Brown is a longtime advocate for Ohio’s ports. Earlier this month, he reintroduced legislation with his Senate colleagues that would ensure increased funding for maintenance and operations of federal ports—including Cleveland’s. The Harbor Maintenance Act would ensure that funds deposited in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund go toward maintenance, operations, and construction at federal ports. Cleveland Harbor supports more than 4,000 jobs and generates an estimated $280 million annually.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Brown has fought to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The GLRI is an interagency effort to target the most significant problems in the region and jumpstart restoration efforts to protect, maintain, and restore the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of the Great Lakes. GLRI funding has helped support the removal of invasive species and plants in Ohio, funded the Toledo Harbor Sediment Management Plan, and provided resources for a comprehensive monitoring program to assess the nearshore Lake Erie water quality.
Brown’s letter with his Senate colleagues to Assistant Secretary of the Army, Jo-Ellen Darcy, can be read in its entirety below:
February 14, 2013
The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy
Assistant Secretary of the Army
Department of the Army, Civil Works
108 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0108
Dear Secretary Darcy:
We are writing to call your attention to an important matter concerning the Great Lakes. While the Great Lakes navigation system is threatened due to underfunding, which has been worsened due to lakes levels that have hit record lows, the system also was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. This storm covered 900 miles, and impacted 24 states, including states surrounding the Great Lakes. Across the Great Lakes, gale force winds caused damage to breakwaters and silted in harbors and channels. On Lake Huron, wave heights reached 23 feet, in Lake Michigan the waves peaked at 22 feet, and the storm caused waves of 14 feet in Lake Erie.
Congress provided $50.5 billion in supplemental appropriations to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy and to rebuild and strengthen areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Included in this funding is $821 million for the Army Corps of Engineers for expenses related to the consequences of Hurricane Sandy. During debate on the bill, the Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Mikulski, provided assurances in a colloquy that Great Lakes federal navigation projects that were damaged as a result of Hurricane Sandy would indeed be eligible for some of the $821 million in funding for navigation projects.
The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that Great Lakes federal navigation project incurred damages totaling $17.7 million. We urge you to speedily direct this funding to Great Lakes projects so that breakwaters and piers can be repaired, and harbors and channels can be dredged to restore functionality.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.