Congressional and Executive Action
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released $6 billion in disaster recovery funds to farmers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, and winter storms in 2021. These funds are in addition to a separate allocation of $4 billion provided already by the Biden administration.
The “Expediting Disaster Recovery Act,” introduced by U.S House Representative Garret Graves (R-LA) and passed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, included a provision that would remove the requirement that HUD long-term disaster recovery funds be targeted based on income when distributed to repay low-interest Small Business Administration (SBA) loans received by qualifying households to assist in disaster recovery. During the 2016 Louisiana floods, nearly 6,000 homeowners were prevented from accessing long-term disaster recovery assistance because they had already received SBA loans earlier in the disaster recovery process.
FEMA has released a new “Roadmap to Federal Resources” guide to assist state, local, tribal, and territorial governments in navigating some of the challenges commonly experienced following a disaster.
FEMA announced an update to its mobile phone app – the first in six years. Improvements have focused on accessibility and improved user experience.
HUD announced on June 27 that it would be implementing a new data sharing agreement between FEMA and HUD long-term disaster recovery fund grantees. Grantees will need to revise their data sharing agreements to align with the new agreement.
State and Local
The Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness launched a FEMA-funded program to connect Hurricane Ida survivors in need of assistance with case managers. The state claims the program was not implemented sooner in order to allow insurance companies time to answer claims.
A report from the Louisiana Legislative Auditors Office reveals that the Louisiana Office of Community Development has now distributed more than $651 million in federal aid to 17,160 homeowners in response to the 2016 Louisiana floods.
The City of Boston Office of Emergency Management’s Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program (RCPGP) team has released a request for information on a disaster housing project being conducted in partnership with regional, state, and federal partners. The goal is to build local and state capacity to manage catastrophic incidents by improving and expanding collaboration for incident preparedness.
Thanks to additional pushes by Senator John Tester (D-MT) and Congressman Matt Rosendale (R-MT), FEMA granted Montana’s request for Individual Assistance in three counties to support survivors of severe flooding in the southern region of the state. The state submitted its initial request to FEMA on June 23.
A new modeling study conducted at Duke University has found that as rising sea levels cause marshes to move inland in mid-Atlantic states like North Carolina, the coastal zone will cease to serve as a valuable sea wall and carbon sink.
Fire investigators announced in a report that the largest fire in the history of New Mexico was the result of a U.S. Forest Service prescribed fire that escaped control. The fire, which is still burning, has destroyed at least 330 homes.
President Biden approved a disaster declaration with Individual Assistance for seven Oklahoma counties struck by severe storms and tornadoes in May. Multiple tornadoes struck the town of Seminole that month, causing extensive damage, while flooding affected several other communities.
Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management is now operating as a cabinet-level state department reporting directly to the governor, rather than as a branch of the Oregon Military Department. The change follows similar decisions by several other states.
A new report from the Center for a New Economy found that lower-income survivors of Hurricane Maria were more likely than higher income survivors to have large housing needs after FEMA assistance was provided.
August 31, 2022, willmark the close of the application period for the Homeowner Assistance and Reimbursement Program (HARP), a HUD Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery-funded program being operated by the Texas General Land Office for victims of South Texas and Rio Grande Valley flooding in 2018 and 2019, including victims of flooding caused by Hurricane Imelda.
The Texas Government Land Office is planning to ask the City of Houston to return funds after the city missed almost all the benchmarks for the city-administered Hurricane Harvey recovery program. The city claims that the GLO has actively slowed the spending of funds and that the agency has been operating as an “adversarial party.”
FEMA reimbursed the Vermont Agency of Human Services nearly $2 million for housing individuals experiencing homelessness in hotels during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, from October 2020 to March 2022.