The following is a review of additional disaster housing recovery developments since the last edition of Memo to Members and Partners (for the article in the previous Memo, see 3/25).
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report, “FEMA Grants Modernization: Improvements Needed to Strengthen Program Management and Cybersecurity” on April 9. The report determines the extent to which FEMA has implemented leading program management practices and effective cybersecurity processes, and it assesses the reliability of program cost estimates and schedules. The GAO included 8 recommendations for FEMA, including schedule improvement.
HUD announced it is providing immediate foreclosure relief on Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages and making available additional insurance and loan programs for those impacted by the floods in Nebraska.
The major disaster declaration for the state of Nebraska has been amended to authorize Public Assistance (PA) grants for an additional 50 counties. Damage assessments are continuing, and more counties and tribal nations may be designated for additional reimbursement.
FEMA and Nebraska Labor Commissioner John H. Albin announced that employees or self-employed survivors in 15 counties and the Santee Sioux Nation who lost work as a direct result of the flooding may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance.
According to officials at the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, the recent flooding severely damaged or destroyed an estimated 2,600 homes. In Omaha and surrounding suburbs, nearly 600 homes have been marked with red tags, which signifies a building has suffered significant damage and is deemed uninhabitable by inspectors.
HUD announced it is providing immediate foreclosure relief on Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages and making available additional insurance and loan programs for those impacted by the floods in Iowa.
Several towns in Iowa and elsewhere in the Midwest are still on a "boil" alert (instructed to boil water before drinking it or to rely on bottled water) as officials work to repair wells and test the water supply for contamination caused by the flooding.
About 40 tornados swept through Alabama and Georgia in early March. Many of the towns impacted are small and rural, and cleanup has been slow. Many families lost their homes and remain unhoused. A recent Ledger-Enquirer article details the tornados’ impacts on families across the Southeast.
2018 California Wildfires
Leading researchers in the fields of trauma and disaster recovery say the mental health of wildfire survivors varies depending on factors such as the intensity of their experience, the type of support available to them after the disaster, and whether the community comes together in the recovery and rebuilding process.
FEMA ended on April 9 the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program for about 250 families in the Florida Panhandle. FEMA had agreed to extend the program an additional 60 days, but only for households that had long-term housing plans – about 42 families. Local and state officials have appealed the decision and asked for an additional extension.
An article in the Tallahassee Democrat discusses the difficulties people with disabilities face navigating the FEMA relief system and obtaining accessible housing following a disaster.
Many small towns and rural areas in the Florida Panhandle were devastated by Hurricane Michael. Residents feel forgotten as they continue to remove debris and wait for federal aid that will help repair crucial economic infrastructure.
The Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program ended on March 5 after completing partial repairs to the homes of 2,183 Hurricane Florence survivors in 12 counties.