A Louisiana homeowner hugged Paul Huang, assistant administrator for FEMA’s Federal Insurance, after his team adjusted her flood insurance claim, helped muck out her house and provided her with a $70,000 check to begin her recovery.
Paul said moments like this, where you get to meet the people you have helped, is one of the things he loves most about working for FEMA. What stands out, Paul said, was watching her grandkids and community help her when she needed it most. “Being there to empathize and listen to her story, being able to do that year in, year out and coming home from the field to tell my family about who we’ve helped,” Paul said.
As Assistant Administrator for Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, Paul oversees flood insurance operations for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The primary source of flood insurance in the United States, it provides $1.3 trillion in coverage to approximately five million policy holders. The program makes flood insurance available for homeowners, renters and businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, 45 tribes and six territories.
The NFIP was created in 1968, after the private sector abandoned the flood insurance business. Flooding was, and remains, one of the biggest disaster recovery expenses. The NFIP was created to fill these gaps by mapping flood risk nationwide, developing floodplain management standards and providing flood insurance.
The work of Paul’s team allows communities, households and businesses to avoid or reduce flood risk and the financial burden to survivors. Paul says that he is simply a cheerleader for his team.
“Our people are our strength,” Paul said. “So, I do my best to empower them, invest in them and allow them the opportunity to take risks to innovate.”
This support has helped Paul’s team push to new heights. He notes that among many other successes in the last three years his team helped stop the decline of flood insurance policies over the last decade and increase the policy-base by over 100,000. Another success he notes is that 19 of 20 claimants reported “excellent” service in their claims handling.
Paul said the diversity of his team is a key to its success. “Having a diverse workforce generates more innovation and perspectives so that we can better deliver for our customers.” He believes FEMA is made up of caring people who are looking to support the mission, and that shows in the everyday work that his team does.
“Our FIMA team is like a family,” Paul said. “There is a focus on caring about the whole person - not just the work person. When you can build that kind of trust, the tough discussions or long days become much easier. The kindness we extend to our survivors is the same kindness we share with each other.”
Just as it is at work, at home his favorite hobby is cheering on his team. He loves shooting hoops as a family and said they recently added a new team member. “If my life wasn’t full enough, we just got a puppy two weeks ago. Her name is Juneau and she has won us all over.”
The We Are FEMA campaign highlights employees like Paul, who are committed to serving our country before, during and after disasters. It takes a deeper look at the employees who work to make our nation safer, stronger and more prepared. The campaign allows others to learn more about the mission-driven work and the who, what and why behind the FEMA mission. The faces of FEMA are diverse, but they share the same goal: to help people before, during and after disasters.
To join our team, visit the FEMA website to see the latest job openings.