Federal Involvement in Flood Response and Flood Infrastructure Repair: Storm Sandy Recovery
These actions demonstrated that, during those years, the nation's domestic preparedness was addressed by several disparate legislative actions, motivated by policy and budgetary earmarking, and not by a single, unifying, comprehensive strategy to meet the nation's needs over time. This was a very controversial decision. In July, Carter signed Executive Order shifting disaster relief efforts to the new federal-level agency.
FEMA also responded to the Three Mile Island nuclear accident where the nuclear-generating station suffered a partial core meltdown. These disasters, while showing the agency could function properly, also uncovered some inefficiencies. In , the agency was elevated to cabinet rank;  this was not continued by President George W. The end of the Cold War also allowed the agency's resources to be turned away from civil defense to natural disaster preparedness. Those responsibilities include dam safety under the National Dam Safety Program Act; disaster assistance under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act ; earthquake hazards reduction under the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of and further expanded by Executive Order , regarding safety requirements for federal buildings and Executive Order , concerning the need for cost estimates to seismically retrofit federal buildings; emergency food and shelter under the Stewart B.
Congress funded FEMA through a combination of regular appropriations and emergency funding in response to events. Following the attacks of September 11, , Congress passed the Homeland Security Act of , which created the Department of Homeland Security DHS to better coordinate among the different federal agencies that deal with law enforcement, disaster preparedness and recovery, border protection and civil defense.
President Bush appointed Michael D. The inevitable result of the reorganization of , warned Brown, would be "an ineffective and uncoordinated response" to a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. Hurricane Katrina in demonstrated that the vision of further unification of functions and another reorganization could not address the problems FEMA had previously faced.
Government Printing Office, revealed that federal funding to states for "all hazards" disaster preparedness needs was not awarded unless the local agencies made the purposes for the funding a "just terrorism" function. Testimony also expressed the opinion that the mission to mitigate vulnerability and prepare for natural hazard disasters before they occurred had been separated from disaster preparedness functions, making the nation more vulnerable to known hazards, like hurricanes.
In fall , FEMA took over coordination of the Ready Campaign , the national public service advertising campaign in collaboration with the Ad Council , to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural and man-made disasters. The Ready Campaign and its Spanish language version Listo asks individuals to do three things: build an emergency supply kit,  make a family emergency plan  and be informed about the different types of emergencies that can occur and how to respond.
The new department, headed by Secretary Tom Ridge, brought a coordinated approach to national security from emergencies and disasters — both natural and man-made. ONSC was responsible for developing, exercising, and validating agency-wide continuity of operations and continuity of government plans as well as overseeing and maintaining continuity readiness including the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center.
An annual list of the use of these funds is disclosed at the end of the year on FEMA's website. FEMA's Mitigation Directorate  is responsible for programs that take action before a disaster, in order to identify risks and reduce injuries, loss of property, and recovery time. FEMA works to ensure affordable flood insurance is available to homeowners in flood plains, through the National Flood Insurance Program , and also works to enforce no-build zones in known flood plains and relocate or elevate some at-risk structures. Pre-Disaster Mitigation grants are available to acquire property for conversion to open space, retrofit existing buildings, construct tornado and storm shelters, manage vegetation for erosion and fire control, and small flood control projects.
During the initial stages of a response, FEMA will, as part of the whole community, focus on projected, potential, or escalating critical incident activities.
the flood Manual
The NRCC coordinates with the affected region s and provides needed resources and policy guidance in support of incident-level operations. The NRCC staff specifically provides emergency management coordination, planning, resource deployment, and collects and disseminates incident information as it builds and maintains situational awareness—all at the national-level. An example of NRCC activity is the coordination of emergency management activities that took place in connection with the Colorado floods.
Bush, on December 18, NDMS is made of teams that provide medical and allied care to disaster victims. These teams include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc. The Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces perform rescue of victims from structural collapses, confined spaces, and other disasters, for example, mine collapses and earthquakes.
These teams provide communications support to local public safety.
For instance, they may operate a truck with satellite uplink, computers, telephone, and power generation at a staging area near a disaster so that the responders can communicate with the outside world. Also, portable cell phone towers can be erected to allow local responders to access telephone systems. The first test of the national wireless emergency system by FEMA was broadcast to an estimated million electronic devices at EDT on 3 October The text message was accompanied by a flashing warning sign and warning tone.
The president may direct FEMA to broadcast such alerts only for national emergencies or if the public is in danger. The facility may not be used for personal messages from the president. Mobile phone owners can not opt out of these warnings. According to the Federation of American Scientists , during the Cold War FEMA prepared assessments of the likely consequences of a full-scale Soviet nuclear attack on the United States for use in planning mitigation and recovery efforts.
FEMA offers a large number of training classes, either at its own centers, through programs at the state level, in cooperation with colleges and universities, or online. The latter are free classes available to anyone, although only those with U. Other emergency response information for citizens is also available at its website.
The first class of the academy graduated in early Information on designing effective training for first responders is available from the Training and Education Division. Emergency managers and other interested members of the public can take independent study courses for certification at FEMA's online Emergency Management Institute. Note that students do not have to be employed by FEMA or be a federal employee for some of the programs.
FEMA Corps, who range in age from 18 to 24 years old, is a cadre dedicated to disaster response and recovery. The Corps work on teams of 8 to 12 people and follow the traditional NCCC model of living together and traveling together. An education award is distributed to corps members who successfully serve 10 months of service, completing 1, total hours. FEMA has led a Public-Private Partnership in creating a National Donations Management Program making it easier for corporations or individuals not previously engaged to make offers of free assistance to States and the Federal Government in times of disaster.
The technical backbone of the program is an online technology solution called The Aidmatrix Network which is managed by the independent nonprofit organization, Aidmatrix. FEMA was widely criticized for its response to Andrew, summed up by the famous exclamation, "Where in the hell is the cavalry on this one? FEMA and the federal government at large were accused of not responding fast enough to house, feed and sustain the approximately , people left homeless in the affected areas.
Within five days the federal government and neighboring states had dispatched 20, National Guard and active duty troops to South Dade County to set up temporary housing.
FEMA had previously been criticized for its response to Hurricane Hugo , which hit South Carolina in September , and many of the same issues that plagued the agency during Hurricane Andrew were also evident during the response to Hurricane Katrina in South Florida newspaper Sun-Sentinel has an extensive list of documented criticisms of FEMA during the four hurricanes that hit the region in However, many could not render direct assistance and were only able to report on the dire situation along the Gulf Coast, especially from New Orleans. Within three days, a large contingent of National Guard and active duty troops were deployed to the region.
The enormous number of evacuees simply overwhelmed rescue personnel. The situation was compounded by flood waters in the city that hampered transportation and poor communication among the federal government, state, and local entities. FEMA was widely criticized for what is seen as a slow initial response to the disaster and an inability to effectively manage, care for, and move those who were trying to leave the city.
Brown was criticized personally for a slow response and an apparent disconnection with the situation. Brown would eventually be relieved of command of the Katrina disaster and soon thereafter resigned. According to the U. Other failings were also noted. For years emergency management professionals have been warning that FEMA's preparedness has eroded. Many believe this erosion is a result of the separation of the preparedness function from FEMA, the drain of long-term professional staff along with their institutional knowledge and expertise, and the inadequate readiness of FEMA's national emergency response teams.
The combination of these staffing, training, and organizational structures made FEMA's inadequate performance in the face of a disaster the size of Katrina all but inevitable. Pursuant to a temporary restraining order issued by Hon. Stanwood R.
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FEMA class-action, February 7, was set as the deadline for the official end of any further coverage of temporary housing costs for Katrina victims. After the February 7 deadline, Katrina victims were left to their own devices either to find permanent housing for the long term or to continue in social welfare programs set up by other organizations.
There were many Katrina evacuees living in temporary shelters or trailer parks set up by FEMA and other relief organizations in the first months after the disaster hit, but much more were still unable to find housing. FEMA Headquarters had been in constant contact with State congressional offices providing them with the latest information available.
The snowstorm damage by this time included downed power wires, downed trees, and structural damage to homes and businesses. Many people of Dumas, Arkansas , especially victims of tornadoes on February 24, , criticized FEMA's response in not supplying the number of new trailers they needed, and only sending a set of used trailers, lower than the needed quantity. Following the storm, U. FEMA came under intense criticism when it was revealed that a press conference on the October California wildfires was staged. Deputy Administrator Harvey E. Johnson was answering questions from FEMA employees who were posing as reporters.
Many of these questions were "softball" questions i. In this way, any scrutiny from real reporters many of whom were only given a minute notice would have been avoided.
The Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy: Resources for State Recovery
The only people there were primarily FEMA public affairs employees. Maria was the fifth-strongest storm to ever strike the United States with stronger winds than those brought by Irma and similar rain brought to Houston by Hurricane Harvey. The agency had prepared some provisions for displaced residents before the storm struck, including: roughly FEMA staff members being positioned on the island, food, water, and bedding.
The island also experienced a massive loss of power as a result of flood and wind damage sustained during Maria. In the beginning of October , Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, chief and commanding general of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, explained the extent of and necessity of aid for this power crisis.
Semonite described some specifics of the outage to reporters, explaining that the island requires "2, megawatts of electricity to operate and at last count had megawatts available. FEMA Administrator William "Brock" Long told reporters in a briefing following the storm that Puerto Rico politics had hindered the ability of the federal government to send aid. He explained that political divisions had prevented unity for leaders in this time of crisis, describing that their issue was "even worse" than the mainland United States' issue between Democrats and Republicans.
Residents, in some cases, were required to fill out paperwork in English rather than Spanish with little to no hope of receiving the aid they had requested. Regarding this, General Reyes told reporters " We were not even getting back on our feet after Irma, then suddenly we got hit by Maria. This is because they are able to utilize infrastructure to transport aid.
Transporting similar resources to Puerto Rico has proved to be more difficult, as they must travel across the ocean, either in aircraft or in ships. Hurricane Harvey made landfall in late August as a Category 4 Hurricane. The Hurricane predominantly affected southeast Texas; however, its effects were felt as far as Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee in the form of flash flooding. This caused heavy flooding in residential areas such as Colorado City, Liberty, and Montgomery, Texas.
Harvey was the first of a series of hurricanes and tropical storms to affect the United States between August and September The effects of these storms included extreme flooding, damage from high speed winds, structural damage, and humanitarian concerns regarding the availability of basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter. Some recipients were forced to wait up to two months before receiving aid from FEMA, as technical complications held up both their application for it and the processing of said applications.
Some residents were denied Federal Aid and have to dispute their denial in efforts to rebuild and repair properties without taking a considerably large financial loss. The costs of a disaster to states and localities can pile up quickly. Federal assistance becomes fully available with the approval of the President and at the request of the governor. FEMA does not compensate for buildings that have been improperly maintained by the state or local government nor does it pay to upgrade or improve facilities.
Grants for disaster preparedness can be used by flood control districts. Many states have disaster relief agencies of their own. In the event of a disaster outside of a state's operating capacity, the director of said agency will advise the Governor whether or not to proclaim a state of emergency. Declaring a state of emergency, upon Presidential approval, entitles a state to federal assistance. It is important to note that proclaiming a state of emergency does not guarantee federal assistance. States also rely on mutual aid agreements, such as the Civil Defense and Disaster Compact.
A mutual aid agreement can be between neighboring states, cities, counties and cities, states and cities or an entire region. These agreements allow agencies to share resources so they are better prepared for emergencies. Local governments have the most immediate responsibility. Four factors shape local disaster response:. Having a mostly intact tax base allows local governments to maintain steady revenue stream. Business unharmed by a disaster will be able to continue to generate sales tax revenue.
Cities with access to large revenue reserves and strong mutual aid agreements will have greater response capacity. While cities with large municipal debt that would be unable to pay back state or federal loans would be in a difficult situation.
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This case gave FEMA the right to sue in like order to recover funds paid out in flood insurance claims for flood damage as a result of poor decisions by local officials and developers. The case also gave FEMA the power to sue localities who fail to meet flood plain management requirements. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see FEMA disambiguation.
United States disaster response agency, part of Department of Homeland Security. They need to be ready to spend it.
And the reality is, this is not first money out the door. It takes time. In my interview with Nancy Kete from the Rockefeller Foundation , she spoke about the economic inequality we see in how cities like NYC recover after storms like Sandy — that, for example, the Lower East Side is back to normal while the Rockaways are still struggling. Do you see that? Our mandate is that half our money has to go to low- or moderate-income areas. As a federal agency, our MO is to let our grantees determine how their funding gets spent.
And that works well for regular funds. But for disaster money, nobody is prepared to respond to a disaster in city or state governments in the same way. So the onus is on us. In the past it was much more reactive. In the past, they could actually only fund, to the dollar amount, a rebuilding in kind. It sounds like Rebuild also lets you help your grantees figure out how to spend their recovery money, like they asked.
It did. I also have a team, some city planners, working closely day-to-day with our grantees on spending this money, both overall and for the Rebuild projects specifically. So far, the relationships are good. Working this closely is definitely uncharted territory. When we were doing the awards, we decided to fund the first phase of more projects instead of putting it all toward one. But what about when they want to do phase 2 or 3? So the question becomes, where does that come from? One of the things that gives me great hope is that the Army Corps of Engineers are really the long term players in this.
I know Roland pretty well, and he was pretty cynical in his interview about whether there would be federal will to do what it takes. So are the federal agencies literally coming together in rooms to figure out a long term plan? And on top of that, we have a leadership group of the major infrastructure agencies that meets every month: Fema, us, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Army Corps.