Disaster Assistance: Action Needed to Improve Resilience, Response, and Recovery

Disaster Assistance: Action Needed to Improve Resilience, Response, and Recovery

The Huge Picture

The federal governing administration provides billions of dollars to help communities weakened by disasters—such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and earthquakes—rebuild infrastructure and boost their resilience to foreseeable future damages. Federal support also assists folks and homes impacted by disasters get well.

FEMA-Documented Federal Support for Chosen Natural Disasters, as of February 2023

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The climbing quantity of all-natural disasters and growing reliance on federal help are important sources of growing prices for the federal government and the American taxpayer.

What GAO’s Operate Displays

GAO has evaluated federal disaster resilience, reaction, and restoration initiatives and has identified prospects for improvement.

Invest in Catastrophe Resilience. One way to lessen federal fiscal publicity is to make investments in catastrophe resilience, thereby decreasing the need to have for much more costly long term aid. In 2019, GAO designed the Disaster Resilience Framework to enable federal entities determine alternatives to endorse disaster resilience.

The Federal Unexpected emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has grant courses that fund point out and local initiatives to boost disaster resilience, these types of as elevating households to protect against flood harm. Nonetheless, worries with these programs, such as elaborate and lengthy application procedures, discourage investment decision in assignments to improve catastrophe resilience.

✓ We advisable that FEMA build a program to streamline its grant software processes.

Enhance Processes for Assisting Survivors. Immediately after a main disaster, survivors can use to FEMA’s People and Households System (IHP) for short-term housing or dwelling mend resources. GAO discovered that survivors encounter many troubles acquiring aid. For occasion, FEMA does not often thoroughly clarify to survivors that, in order to obtain specified types of IHP aid, they must initial apply for and be denied a Modest Enterprise Administration (SBA) disaster personal loan. Survivors who do not recognize these kinds of specifications may possibly not get all the aid for which they are qualified.

✓ We proposed that FEMA make improvements to interaction about this necessity.

GAO has also determined troubles with FEMA’s system for estimating injury to properties. In 2020, FEMA transformed its approach for estimating these damages. Nevertheless, FEMA did not assess how this sort of adjustments affected IHP award amounts. GAO located awards had been 35 percent reduced on common with the new method. As a outcome, applicants may perhaps not acquire an award amount of money that accurately demonstrates the hurt for which they are suitable.

✓ We suggested that FEMA evaluate its new tactic for estimating destruction and regulate the approach as needed.

California Wildfire Approaching a Home

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Increase Federal Method to Disaster Recovery. Funding presented by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Growth Block Grant Disaster Recovery can be utilised for housing pursuits, these as house repairs. We located that this funding has been gradual to attain affected communities. We claimed in December 2022, that the seven states and territories that acquired the broad vast majority of grants to help impacted communities recuperate from 2017 and 2018 disasters had disbursed only 28 {7e5ff73c23cd1cd7ac587f9048f78b3ced175b09520fe5fee10055eb3132dce7} of the resources allocated for housing functions. HUD does not call for grantees to gather and examine facts wanted to check method timeliness.

✓ We advisable that HUD have to have grantees to accumulate and evaluate facts to watch grant timeliness.

Hurricane Ian Problems to Household in Pine Island, Florida

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FEMA, HUD, and SBA are just three of over 30 federal entities associated in disaster restoration. Acquiring so several entities included has made problems, such as puzzling and lengthy procedures for catastrophe survivors and communities to apply for help. These kinds of troubles can disproportionately affect populations that are the very least well prepared to navigate elaborate federal programs.

We identified 11 alternatives that could enhance the federal method to disaster recovery.

✓ We recommended that Congress think about setting up an impartial fee to advocate reforms to the federal strategy to disaster restoration.

Much more from GAO’s Portfolio

Disaster Support: GAO-23-104750, GAO-20-604, GAO-20-503

Disaster Recovery: GAO-23-105295, GAO-23- 104956, GAO-22-104452, GAO-19-232

Disaster Resilience: GAO-22-106046, GAO-21-140, GAO-20-100SP

Highway Unexpected emergency Aid: GAO-20-32

Puerto Rico Recovery: GAO-21-264 2017

Hurricanes: GAO-22-106211