Additional Disaster Housing Recovery Updates - January 6, 2020

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 12/23).

Federal Action & National News

Before leaving for holiday break, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Environment Subcommittee held a hearing on the current effects of climate change on the U.S. Multiple experts stressed that the country is not prepared for the full effects of climate change and called for further reductions in carbon emissions.  

Anuradha Varanasi, research project director at Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness, has been studying the effect of natural disasters on vulnerable subpopulations – such as children – and how to involve them in the preparedness process.

Midwest Flooding


Due to catastrophic flooding, residents of the tiny town of Winslow, Nebraska are faced with a decision – relocate the town to higher ground, move elsewhere, or stay put.


Experts fear the Missouri River will cause even more flooding in the coming year. Local governments rapidly losing revenue while funding recovery projects brace for the worst.

The constant floods and resulting repairs are bringing high infrastructure costs to the Midwest, Marketplace reports.

Tropical Storm Imelda & Hurricane Harvey


Federal funds from HUD are being used to pay for “Texas Back in Business,” a program under contract with the Texas General Land Office to provide grants of up to $250,000 to qualified small businesses that suffered damages during Hurricane Harvey.

The deadline for the Texas General Land Office’s Homeowner Assistance and Reimbursement Programs passed at the end of 2019.

After applying for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, a family that lost their house during Hurricane Harvey spent their first holiday in a new home.

California Wildfires

Mobile home parks in areas destroyed by 2018’s Camp Fire in Northern California are facing mounting obstacles to recovery. Problems range from jurisdictional problems over what entity oversees the parks to the slow repair of infrastructure.

A patchwork of homelessness and affordable housing organizations are working to provide Camp Fire survivors with permanent housing. The area was already experiencing a housing crisis before the fires, which destroyed approximately 14,000 homes.

Hurricane Michael


The City of Tampa Bay is holding its first resiliency summit, as the community comes to terms with worsening storms and rising sea levels.

For the residents of Panama City, the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Michael is by far the most covered – and read about - story of the year. Fourteen months after the storm, some residents are still living in makeshift tent communities.

Hurricane Florence & Hurricane Dorian

North Carolina

In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Dorian, North Carolina spent much of 2019 focusing on resiliency and mitigation to protect residents from future storms.

Recovery from both Hurricanes Florence in 2018 and Matthew in 2018 is slated to continue into the new decade. Although the state was upgraded to an “on pace” spender of disaster-recovery funds late in 2019, recovery is still expected to move slowly

2016 and 2017 Disasters

Hurricane Maria: Recovering from Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Florence remain a massive task in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2020.  With additional recovery funding becoming embroiled in fights over the U.S. southern-boarder wall, many remain frustrated.

Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico remains in “waiting mode” while the bulk of funds for permanent recovery and mitigation continue to be withheld by HUD.

Superstorm Sandy: New York City is working on climate change plans – but with so many areas vulnerable to flooding, some ask if a “managed retreat” from the coast is called for.