Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – January 10, 2022


Rob Moore from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) joined the DHRC Disaster Recovery Working Group on January 4 to discuss FEMA’s Request for Information on its proposed changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If implemented, these changes could transform the NFIP into the climate-informed program needed to address the increased risk of flooding from climate change. FEMA took this action directly in response to a petition filed by NRDC and the Association of State Floodplain Managers. Here are links to a brief comment template and a long-form comment. Comments must be submitted by January 27, 2022.

The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on December 15 on permanently authorizing HUD’s Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery Program (CDBG-DR), the only source of federal long-term disaster recovery funding and the centerpiece of the DHRC-supported Reforming Disaster Recovery Act” (S.2471/H.R. 4707). If your state has a Republican senator, please call them today and urge them to cosponsor this important bill! NLIHC and Enterprise Community Partners are circulating an organizational sign-on letter to congressional leadership in support of the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act (S.2471). Sign your organization on to the letter here


According to a new Washington Post analysis, more than 40% of Americans live in counties struck by climate-related extreme weather last year, and more than 80% of Americans experienced a heat wave. While extreme heat is not officially considered a disaster, it is one of the most fatal types of severe weather. FEMA declared eight climate-related statewide disasters encompassing 135 million people in 2021 – the most since 1998.

Biden Administration

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of the Interior (DOI), and FEMA announced on December 17 the establishment of a Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. Establishing this Commission fulfills a key provision of the bipartisan infrastructure law and represents a critical step in combating the nation’s wildfire crisis and improving resilience in America’s landscapes. “In coordination with our partners at USDA and DOI, FEMA is committed to doing our part to help build readiness and resilience in communities who are at risk from wildfires,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.


FEMA released the 10th annual 2021 National Preparedness Report (NPR). The report summarizes the state of national preparedness, discussing the risks the nation faces and how those risks drive whole-community emergency management capability requirements. For the first time, the report provides management opportunities outlining steps that community leaders can take to address capability gaps. These include a justification for a preparedness investment strategy to help close capability gaps and improve capabilities, an explanation of what all levels of government are doing or can do to manage climate change, and how climate change worsens existing vulnerabilities. Read the report and the executive summary.

Colorado Wildfires

President Biden on December 30 approved a Major Disaster Declaration for Colorado to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by the wildfires beginning on December 30, 2021. President Biden’s action makes federal funding available to impacted individuals in Boulder County, including grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals recover from the effects of the disasters. FEMA Public Assistance (PA) is available on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in Boulder County. HUD announced federal disaster assistance is available for Coloradans impacted by the wildfires.

Nearly 1,000 homes and other structures were destroyed, hundreds more were damaged, and several people are still missing after the wildfire devastated entire neighborhoods in Boulder County. Of at least 991 buildings destroyed by the Marshall and Middle Fork fires, most were homes.

According to the Denver Post, Governor Jared Polis and Boulder County Sherriff Joe Pelle estimated up to 1,000 homes in Superior and Louisville may have been destroyed by the Marshall fire that devastated Boulder County on December 31. A resident of a senior living apartment in Louisville reported the housing authority sent a bus to take her and other neighbors to the YMCA of Northern Colorado in Lafayette, a Red Cross evacuation center.



President Biden on December 23 approved a Major Disaster Declaration for Arkansas to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by the severe storms and tornadoes on December 10-11, 2021. FEMA Individual Assistance (IA) is available to affected individuals in Craighead, Jackson, Mississippi, Poinsett, and Woodruff counties. FEMA Public Assistance (PA) is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide. HUD announced federal disaster assistance is available for Arkansans in the areas affected by the tornadoes.

Hundreds of Arkansans were displaced by the deadly tornadoes on December 10. The storms destroyed or severely damaged more than 256 homes, according to preliminary damage assessments from FEMA and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. Roughly 60% of the approximately 24 homes affected in Trumann County, including 72 that were destroyed, were insured, meaning some people lost everything due to the tornadoes.

Donate to the Arkansas Disaster Relief Program here.


Federal disaster assistance is available for Kentucky residents in the areas covered by President Biden’s major disaster declaration. Survivors in counties approved for individual assistance can apply for assistance at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ or by calling 1-800-621-3362. The deadline to apply for FEMA IA is February 11.

The deadly “quad-state” tornadoes on December 10-11 destroyed 15,000 buildings and trailer homes and caused at least $3.5 billion in damages in Mayfield, Kentucky. “People are in a daze, and some are never going to go back to their homes,” said Sandra Delk, coordinator for Mayfield’s community response.

To help survivors in Kentucky, donate to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund.

Hurricane Ida

Connecticut residents in Fairfield, New Haven, and New London who suffered damages from remnants of Hurricane Ida have until January 28, 2022, to apply for FEMA disaster assistance.

Grand Isle, Louisiana took the first hit from Hurricane Ida and continues to struggle with the storm’s devastation. Hundreds of residents whose homes were destroyed remain displaced. In the wake of Hurricane Ida, 141 households on Grand Isle applied for FEMA housing, with 42 still awaiting approval or unit availability. “Everything is a fight,” said Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle. “A fight to save our community.”

Terrebonne Parish residents displaced by Hurricane Ida continue to live in makeshift accommodations. Roughly 1,000 residents are staying in trailers through Louisiana’s temporary housing program as FEMA’s trailers have been slow to arrive.

Three hundred sixty-seven households from Terrebonne and Lafourche parishe are currently living in FEMA travel trailers or mobile homes. FEMA has determined over 4,700 households are eligible for the housing program. FEMA is paying for hotel rooms for 3,772 households across the state.

A nonprofit advocacy group and an architect are bringing an alternative form of temporary housing to Terrebonne Parish residents displaced by Hurricane Ida. The project, Built Bayou, seeks to alleviate the slow deployment of FEMA trailers and other temporary housing programs. Williams Architects and Another Gulf is Possible have built four of the small wooden structures to house displaced families. The structures are designed to be built quickly after a natural disaster without any power tools.


A literature review in the journal Frontiers in Water, “Flood Recovery Outcomes and Disaster Assistance Barriers for Vulnerable Populations,” synthesizes research across multiple disciplines regarding barriers to disaster assistance and flood recovery outcomes. The authors, Bradley Wilson, Eric Tate, and Christopher Emrich, find considerable evidence that renters, low-income households, and people of color face the most significant barriers to accessing federal recovery assistance and experience adverse recovery outcomes.