Additional Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – September 3, 2019

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 8/26). 

Federal Action

At least 6 states have opted to name Disaster Recovery or Climate Change czars in the last year. The move shows a shift at the state level to prioritize the impact of climate change. 

Despite having received several GAO reports admonishing FEMA for its disaster-response efforts, the agency is continuing to struggle when pre-planning for disasters. Some advocates blame political pressure being imposed on the agency and a lack of leadership.

Midwest Tornadoes

Only 23% of Dayton-area renters displaced by this summer’s tornadoes have applied for FEMA assistance. Local officials are urging individuals to apply by the deadline on September 3.

2018 California Wildfires

Survivors with unmet needs not covered by FEMA assistance can now apply for a new recovery program from PG&E. 

Hurricane Michael

Panama City, FL, was inundated with disreputable contractors after Hurricane Michael. Many residents signed fraudulent contracts that significantly set back their recovery.

Hurricane Florence

Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) member Habitat for Humanity is continuing its efforts to rebuild in New Bern, NC.

More than 750 homes damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in South Carolina have been rebuilt so far, with 550 homes left to repair. Once those homes are completed, efforts will shift to homes damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Florence. 

2017 Disasters

Hurricane Harvey: The City of Port Arthur, TX, has been in recovery limbo for 2 years. As repairs are slowly made, the city is imploring former residents to return. Houston is lagging behind the rest of the state in recovering from Hurricane Harvey. The city is operating its own billion-dollar program, but only one house has been rebuilt to-date. 

Hurricane Maria: With HUD’s announcement that it would be moving forward to release disaster recovery funds for states in the continental U.S., Puerto Rico is being left out of billions of dollars in disaster assistance funds. 

West Virginia Flooding: As West Virginia receives millions of dollars to fund recovery from the 2016 floods, officials say the current assistance program has successfully completed repairing just over 50 homes.