We are getting a lot of questions about how FEMA will continue to fund the different disasters states are continuing to recover from, as well as the immediate response and recovery efforts for Hurricane Irene.
Our immediate focus is to continue doing everything we can to support our state and local partners as they respond to Irene and meet the immediate needs of disaster survivors, and we have the resources needed to do this. To make sure we have all the resources we need to do this, FEMA is placing some funding restrictions on longer-term repair, rebuilding and mitigation projects from previous and current disasters that are funded through our Disaster Relief Fund.
In other words we are implementing what we refer to as “immediate needs funding,” a strategy that is not new and that we have used in previous years to help preserve our disaster relief funding for immediate needs. This will not impact the individual assistance disaster survivors are receiving for losses from recent disasters, like the tornadoes, and will not affect the availability of aid for any people who suffer losses from Hurricane Irene and qualify for federal disaster assistance.
It is very important that that the public, especially the disaster survivors we serve, understands what this means. Under Immediate Needs Funding:
- Current or future disaster survivors will continue to receive their individual assistance payments from FEMA to help replace or repair damages to property or cover other personal losses. This is true for disaster survivors in Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and all other states recently impacted by tornadoes or flooding.
States will be continue to receive funding reimbursement for debris removal, emergency protective and response measures, and assistance to help with housing missions, mission assignments, and other critical needs. Longer-term recovery projects for open disasters that had already been submitted by states will continue to receive funding. The only projects that will temporarily be impacted are longer-term recovery projects and hazard mitigation projects that were not already in our system. To be clear – funding will not be eliminated for any of these projects, but merely put on hold until additional appropriations are made available.
There are a few important things to keep in mind about Immediate Needs Funding.
- This is not a new strategy – it has been implemented in previous years to help preserve the funding for the Disaster Relief Fund. Specifically, Immediate Needs Funding Guidance was released in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2010, as a precautionary measure to preserve the balance of the DRF until Congress allocated additional funding.
- FEMA does not “divert” funds from one disaster to pay for another disaster. As Administrator Fugate explained yesterday during a briefing for the media:
“We are not taking any money away from survivors. When we go into [Immediate Needs Funding] use money that continues to provide funds to all the individual assistance programs for all of the open disasters. It also continues to provide funding for the emergency protective measures, debris removal. What it does do, we stop funding new work in older disasters that have not already been in the system to maintain funds to continue to support the survivors, as well as the response to this disaster. We're working very closely with the White House on what funding may be needed as part of that will be based on what the damage assessments we do see from this storm.”
Again, this Immediate Needs Funding strategy will not affect our preparation or response operations for Hurricane Irene or any event in the coming weeks or months, and current and future eligible disaster survivors will continue to receive individual assistance payments, which help begin their recovery process by covering some of their personal losses. In addition, eligible states will continue to receive funding for emergency response work or protective measures. We look forward to continuing to work with all of our partners toward our common goal – to protect the people and communities we serve and help states continue to recover from Hurricane Irene and other disasters.