Additional Disaster Housing Recovery Updates, January 27

Federal Action & National News

Acting FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor was officially sworn in as administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Administrator Gaynor discussed his plans for the agency in an open letter.

Figuring out FEMA is a new resource that comprehensively explains the FEMA Individual Assistance program. The pocket-sized guide explains how to enroll, appeal, and receive more assistance from FEMA, if needed.

A new report from the New York Times finds the southern states struck by natural disasters are leaving out mentions of climate change from their requests for aid and recovery action plans. Marion McFadden of DHRC-member Enterprise Community Partners was quoted: “HUD is requiring them to be explicit about everything other than the concept that climate change is responsible.”

Puerto Rico Earthquakes

President Trump signed a major disaster declaration for Puerto Rico on January 16. FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available to the Commonwealth in response to the dire conditions the recent earthquakes inflicted since December 28, 2019.

HUD announced that Robert M. Couch will serve as the federal financial monitor to oversee the disaster recovery grant administration and disbursement in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Tropical Storm Imelda & Hurricane Harvey


The leaders of the Coastal Texas Study will hold public open houses to present and receive feedback on its Costal Texas Protection & Restoration Feasibility Study, projected to be presented to Congress in 2021.

The Texas General Land Office is celebrating the opening of a rehabilitated multifamily housing complex damaged by Hurricane Harvey. The effort took $450 million in HUD recovery funding and will house 47 low- to moderate-income families.

California Wildfires

Zurich Insurance, DuPont, and the nonprofit ISET-International released a report on the California wildfires, “California Fires: Building Resilience from the Ashes.” The report covers a variety of lessons learned in the aftermath of the fires but focuses on how investments in resiliency can lessen the impacts of future wildfires.

The Napa Valley Unified School District will avoid scheduling classes on three days in April and May, leaving them as a backup for class time lost to wildfires, smoke, or public-safety blackouts imposed by the energy utility PG&E.

Hurricane Michael


A local news report highlights over 100 new affordable homes planned to be built in Lynn Haven, FL, by the end of 2020. Residents hope the new development will better equipped to withstand future storms.

Hurricane Florence and Dorian

North Carolina

Hurricane Florence struck North Carolina in September of 2018. As the new year begins, some North Carolinians hold out hope that federal recovery funding will begin to be received.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the allocation of $4 million for a Disaster Recovery National Dislocated Worker Grant to the North Carolina Department of Commerce in response to Hurricane Florence.

Other Disasters

Superstorm Sandy: New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer opposed the placement of planned offshore storm barriers in New York Harbor, arguing that the barriers will not adequately protect at-risk coastal communities. Comptroller Stringer’s opposition to the barriers was echoed by President Trump, but their criticisms were countered by other New York City elected officials.

West Virginia Flooding: Three and a half years after catastrophic flooding in West Virginia, flood victims are still waiting on FEMA assistance.