Disaster Housing Recovery Update – March 13

Congressional and National Updates

Representatives from congressional districts in northern California have sent a letter to President Biden requesting that the president move quickly to approve a disaster declaration request from the state once it is issued. Northern California has been severely impacted by heavy snow for the last several weeks, and a disaster declaration is expected to be issued soon.

Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) introduced legislation that would permit residents of northern California who have been impacted by wildfires to forgo requirements that disaster survivors pay taxes on settlement checks received from utility companies as restitution for starting the fires.

Congressman Byron Donalds (R-FL) issued a statement regarding the failure of the federal government to identify Hurricane Ian damage as a qualified casualty loss on tax returns for south Floridians. “Unfortunately, while then-Speaker Pelosi and Congressional Democrats focused on passing trillions of liberal wish list proposals that heightened inflation, crucial legislative items like the wavier for Hurricane Ian’s qualified federal disaster languished at the expense of thousands in Southwest Florida,” said Rep. Donalds, who voted against the fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget omnibus, which provided $27 billion to disaster-impacted areas, including Florida, in December 2022.

Policy experts have sought to explain why, under current rules, FEMA is unable to approve a disaster declaration for the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment.

Agency News

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell addressed tribal leaders at the National Congress of American Indians Executive Council Session. Administrator Criswell highlighted the creation of the agency’s first ever “national tribal strategy,” as well as the hiring of a national tribal advocate to ensure coordination between tribal nations and FEMA.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced more than $2 billion in funding for eight fiscal year (FY) 2023 preparedness grant programs. The grants are focused on strengthening terrorism-preparedness.

State and Local


FEMA announced that it would continue to provide rental assistance for survivors of severe weather storms that struck Alabama on January 12.


A new Disaster Recovery Center opened in Ventura County to help those impacted by winter storms by providing information on available resources to homeowners, renters, and businessowners who sustained damage to their properties.

Six weeks after an emergency evacuation was ordered, residents of a severely flooded mobile home park in San Joaquin County are wondering when they will be able to return home.


Proposals introduced in Florida’s Senate seek to provide greater flexibility in providing temporary housing to disaster recovery volunteers, end the collection of building fees following recent hurricanes, and prevent public information requests from revealing the names of those killed or critically injured in disasters.

United Way announced that it would be opening a disaster assistance center in North Naples to assist in hurricane recovery.

In Volusia County, nearly 118 households impacted by Hurricane Ian remain in hotel rooms provided through FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program. The TSA program provides temporary sheltering while impacted households find replacement homes or conduct repairs, but eligibility for the program is difficult to maintain and must be recertified every two weeks.


Disaster Recovery Centers in six central Georgia counties closed on February 25, though FEMA will continue working with state and local partners to assist those who in need of help. More than 1,750 people have visited the Disaster Recovery Centers for information or referrals to relevant assistance programs. FEMA also announced that it will continue to provide rental assistance for impacted residents who initially received FEMA rental assistance because of damage to their homes.

New Mexico

Bills providing disaster relief funds for wildfire victims have just two weeks left to pass through the New Mexico legislature before the end of the 2023 session. Legislators are trying to move bills regarding individual assistance, mitigation and preparedness, and infrastructure before the deadline on March 18.

Efforts to clear water canals in New Mexico have begun, following a year of devastating wildfires in the state. The annual tradition, which involves clearing canals to make way for water flowing from snow melt at higher elevations, is much more difficult to follow this year, given that much of the irrigation system, known as acequias, is packed with ash, silt, and debris.


Twelve people sustained injuries from an EF2 tornado that swept through Norman, Oklahoma, causing damage to houses, vehicles, businesses, and schools. Some residents report that storm shelters were blocked by debris and that a porched was dislodged by strong winds. Volunteers have been setting up in Norman to administer emergency aid. They estimate that over 400 houses have been affected, including 80 that were either destroyed or that sustained major damage.

Several Norman residents criticized the City of Norman, as well as the managers of their private apartment complexes, for failing to provide adequate shelters during severe weather events.

Oklahoma’s Office of the Attorney General issued a warning to those affected by the tornado that they should be aware of potential repair scams. One Norman resident noted that aggressive contractors were conducting door-to-door solicitations.


The Lane County Commissioners accepted a $4.1 million grant from the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services to support recovery efforts following the Holiday Farm Fire. Funds can be used for affordable housing development, home purchases, infrastructure repairs, and recovery staffing. The grant will be used to fund ongoing projects in the McKenzie River Valley in addition to starting new programs.


The Rio Grande Valley is beginning to receive federal funding for flood mitigation projects. The funded projects seek to mitigate the impact of events like the 2018 South Texas floods, which inundated the area with flood water.