Disaster Housing Recovery Update – April 15, 2024

Congressional and National Updates

Representatives Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced the “Disaster Resiliency and Coverage Act of 2024” in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 1. The bill aims to solve California’s ongoing insurance crisis, which has led insurance companies to raise their rates and often abandon disaster survivors completely. The bill would give grants of up to $10,000 to individual households to conduct a variety of mitigation work. The bill would also give individuals who conduct mitigation work a 30% tax credit.

A Fannie Mae survey highlighted increasing concern among homeowners and renters regarding the financial impact of extreme weather events on their homes. The survey showed that extreme heat and strong winds from hurricanes and tornadoes are the top weather-related concerns nationwide, with 24% and 23% of respondents worried, respectively. Insurance premiums for many insured homeowners have risen due to weather events, with 66% of homeowners taking preventive actions to mitigate damage.

The 4.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the East Coast from Philadelphia to Boston on April 5 underscored the lack of disaster preparedness, particularly among Black communities. While not indicating any major threats, the earthquake highlighted how Black residents are often hit hardest by disasters due to residing in aging infrastructure and having fewer resources for recovery. Despite being in a less active quake region than West Coast quakes, East Coast quakes travel farther, and cities like New York lack earthquake protocols. Black New Yorkers expressed concern over potential building collapses since many predate seismic codes. A FEMA analysis found that adopting California-like building codes in the Northeast, though increasing costs slightly, could save significantly on disaster recovery expenses that disproportionately impact Black communities lacking preparedness.

State and Local Updates


In March 2023, a powerful tornado swept through Rolling Fork, Mississippi, leaving a path of devastation in one of America’s poorest regions. With winds reaching 200 mph, it obliterated homes, businesses, and lives, emphasizing the vulnerability of the Mississippi Delta community. Many residents lived in mobile homes that offered little resistance to such fierce storms. The disaster compounded the economic struggles in Sharkey County, leading to job losses and further straining limited local resources.

North Carolina

North Carolina’s efforts to rebuild affordable housing following Hurricane Florence have been significantly delayed, taking over five years to materialize. Despite the intention to promptly restore low-income housing and prevent the displacement of renters, the delayed timeline has resulted in many original victims being unable to benefit from new developments. Of the 16 apartment projects selected for funding with HUD resources after Hurricane Florence, seven, including Palatine Meadows, have been completed or are nearing completion, while six others are under construction at different phases. Two projects have obtained HUD’s approval but have not started yet started, and one was unable to proceed after failing to secure a suitable developer. Additionally, an independent initiative aimed at reconstructing one of New Bern’s major public housing projects with FEMA funds has not yet begun.


Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said on April 11 that the state had asked FEMA to perform a damage assessment on impacted homeowners, businesses, and renters who were affected by the tornadoes that struck Ohio last Thursday (April8). At least nine tornadoes struck the central region of the state, killing three people and injuring at least 25 others. Many were left to pick up the pieces of their homes. The nine tornadoes ranged from EF-1 to EF-3. “Ohioans are resilient. When I toured the damage at Indian Lake, I heard over and over again from the residents I talked to about their resolve to rebuild. Having FEMA assess the damage is the next step in helping the affected communities recover,” said Governor DeWine.


Approximately 5,000 acres have burned in Woodward County, Oklahoma, after a wildfire began Saturday near Sharon. As of April 7, the fire – dubbed the 57 Fire – remained wholly uncontained, prompting firefighters from across the state to assist and FEMA to approve grants to help recover costs. No inhabited homes were destroyed, but two Mooreland volunteer firefighters were injured, one seriously, when their truck was overrun by flames. Evacuations occurred near Sharon but had ended by 9 pm Saturday. The Red Cross and Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief provided meals for first responders, while the State Emergency Operations Center was activated, receiving eight fire reports from six counties on Sunday, including a reignited blaze in Woods County requiring all fire departments to respond.


Pittsburgh experienced its highest river levels in nearly two decades this week as heavy rainfall drenched the region for 72 hours, dropping more rain than in all of March. The rivers crested at 28.8 feet early Thursday, exceeding the 28.5-foot threshold for major flooding according to the National Weather Service and resulting in the worst flooding since January 2005 and September 2004, when crests reached 28.43 feet and 31 feet, respectively. The flood prone “bathtub” section of the Parkway East was closed, as was Point State Park, which saw extensive flooding not experienced since 2005. The Army Corps of Engineers’ control of reservoir water helped prevent catastrophic 40-foot level flooding that could have inundated PNC Park, the Rivers Casino, and a power station. River levels are now slowly dropping, but some road closures remain in effect. Towns around Pittsburgh also experienced heavy flooding and landslides, closing roads and businesses and forcing some from their homes.

Southeastern U.S.

Destructive storms and tornadoes hit multiple states in the Southeast U.S., including Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and Alabama, on April 10. A large portion of the region experienced severe thunderstorms, flash floods, ocean surges, hail, and tornadoes, resulting in injuries, home damage, and mass power outages. About 250,000 people from Texas to Louisiana lost power. An EF 1 tornado hit Katy, TX, and an EF 2 tornado caused damage in Lake Charles, LA. Slidell, LA, also experienced a damaging tornado that caused many injuries and much damage to apartment complexes.

Flooding and intense thunderstorms also impacted New Orleans, where a flash flood emergency was declared. New Orleans saw more than half a foot of rain, its second-highest April calendar day total on record. The city also saw winds up to 70 mph. Baton Rouge was placed under a “destructive” severe thunderstorm warning, and the Weather Service warned of hurricane-force winds after the area experienced gusts of 70 to 80 mph. Louisiana, Mississippi, southern Alabama, and parts of East Texas also experienced flash flood warnings. Interstate 10 near Mobile, AL, was flooded, leaving vehicles stranded by severe rain and an ocean surge. Newton, TX, alone received 18 inches of rain. Florida’s Panhandle was also struck by a multitude of storms.


The aftermath of natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey reveals the intricate dynamics at play between local demographics, housing markets, and economic activities. In Houston, the immediate disruption caused by Harvey included significant damage to over 200,000 homes and a direct financial toll of $125 billion, leading to short-term shocks in real estate transactions. Over time, the disaster influenced individual and household decisions regarding relocation, with a noticeable shift from homeownership to renting among those significantly affected by flooding. This transition not only reflected changes in housing market activities but also underscored the broader socio-economic implications, such as the potential loss of wealth due to missed property appreciation and altered neighborhood compositions. These patterns emphasize the critical role of disaster aid and policy in shaping recovery trajectories and long-term community resilience.

West Virginia

Governor Jim Justice is working on a disaster declaration request for FEMA in response to severe weather events that occurred across West Virginia last week. If Governor Justice’s request is approved, it would bring relief for those affected by flooding, tornadoes, and destructive winds. Governor Justice has also advocated for an ongoing $50 million emergency fund that would allow the state to address unexpected crises. “The $50 million in regard to emergency funds, because of catastrophic events within our state, is something that is so important,” he said.

Resiliency and Mitigation Corner

Families in Cincinnati impacted by severe flooding are worried that they will not receive help to recover, and because of the current state of flood insurance, they are right to be worried. On April 2, floodwaters destroyed families’ homes and apartments. Any objects touched by flood water will most likely be headed to the trash, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Such has been the case for Brianna Delmoral, a renter in Columbia-Tusculum. Flood waters rose three feet above her first floor, soaking carpeting, drywall, and almost all her belongings. “I don’t think I’m getting any help,” Delmoral said.

National Mitigation Planning Program Webinar Series: From Policy to Action

FEMA is hosting a webinar series for anyone involved in community and hazard mitigation planning. This series focuses on putting mitigation planning policy into action. Each webinar discusses and highlights key policy topics, planning resources, best practices, and lessons learned from case studies across the country.

This week’s webinar, “How Hazard Mitigation and Water Resource Planning Flow Together,” will explore how mitigation planning and water resource programs share common goals but often exist in silos. By integrating program efforts, it is possible to build resilience. When planners and water resource managers work together, they can advance community priorities, reduce disaster risk, and safeguard vital water resources. Register here.