The House Committee on Oversight held a hearing on October 5 titled “Hurricane Ida and Beyond: Readiness, Recovery, and Resilience.” The chief witness was FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. In her opening statement, Administrator Criswell cited the rapidly escalating impact of climate change and indicated that FEMA would continue to focus on mitigating the effects of climate-change driven disasters.
Administrator Criswell stated that increasing equity within FEMA programs continues to be a top priority. “Climate Change affects every single American,” said the administrator in her opening statement. “It is the biggest crisis facing our nation, and it is making natural disasters more frequent, more intense, and more destructive. Mitigating the effects of climate change is one of my top priorities for FEMA. Hurricane Ida has demonstrated the challenges presented by our changing climate, the benefits of mitigation investments, and the importance of equity in our response and recovery.”
Questions by members of the committee covered a wide range of topics, including mitigation grants, flood mapping, and FEMA’s capacity to respond to future and compounding disasters. Notably, Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) asked about the continuing issues experienced by disaster survivors who lack clear title to their homes, an issue that disproportionately affects African American and Indigenous disaster survivors and that would be addressed by the DHRC-supported “Housing Survivors of Major Disasters Act” introduced by Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-NJ), Representative Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR), and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Administrator Criswell answered the question by referencing recent reforms at FEMA that allow disaster survivors to utilize a wider range of documentation to show they own their homes and indicated that the agency has already seen a reduced the number of disaster survivors who have had to appeal improper denials of assistance.
Watch a recording of the hearing at: https://bit.ly/3Bq3VN8
Read Administrator Criswell’s opening statement at: https://bit.ly/3FqzYPo