Tester statement on Billings tornado emergency

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after Yellowstone County and the City of Billings declared emergencies in the Billings area, in response to a tornado that destroyed several businesses and buildings Sunday afternoon:

“Sharla’s and my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Billings as folks work together to pick up the pieces.  People across the country are learning more about this storm by the minute.  They see the hard and fast work of Billings’ emergency responders, the dedication of our National Guard troops, and the quick decisions made by community leaders.   Montanans have a lot to be proud of.  The City of Billings and surrounding communities are in good hands.

“Now we begin the process of rebuilding the small businesses and familiar buildings destroyed by this storm.  Through it all, my staff and I stand by to offer any support we can to the Billings community, and especially to the folks who have to start from scratch.  I’ll work with our congressional delegation to make sure federal agencies are on the ground to help the affected areas rebuild—and become only stronger—in the wake of this emergency.”

Tester is also closely watching other weather-related emergencies across Montana, including recent storms in north-central and eastern Montana.

What’s next?
  • Governor Schweitzer will tour the site of the Billings tornado today. Montana Disaster and Emergency Services and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) will prepare a “Preliminary Damage Assessment” of the area to estimate the total amount of damages suffered Sunday.
  • Assuming the estimated damage exceeds $1.2 million, Gov. Schweitzer has the authority to request for the State of Montana emergency funding from FEMA.  If FEMA agrees to the State’s request, federal funds may be released to help individuals and local governments rebuild. 
  • Tester and Sen. Max Baucus will immediately send a letter of support to FEMA, asking the agency to comply with the State’s request.  They will also work with the Small Business Administration to ensure that low-interest loans are available to affected small businesses.
  • As a member of both the Senate Homeland Security Committee and the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Sen. Tester oversees funding for FEMA.