Capitol Correspondence - 03.25.19

Bulwark Against the Unforeseeable: FEMA Issues Guidance on Individual Assistance After Major Disasters

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ANCOR is sharing this notice by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which oversees responses to disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, and oil spills, because individual assistance is used by the disability community after emergencies.

“FEMA is revising the factors found at 44 CFR 206.48 that FEMA uses to determine whether to recommend provision of Individual Assistance during a major disaster. The current factors found at 44 CFR 206.48 for Individual Assistance include the following factors: (1) Concentration of Damages, (2) Trauma, (3) Special Populations, (4) Voluntary Agency Assistance, (5) Insurance, and (6) Average Amount of Individual Assistance by State.

FEMA is revising the current factors to provide additional clarity regarding the considerations that FEMA has evaluated in recent years when making a recommendation on whether Individual Assistance is warranted for a major disaster declaration. This final rule also adds new factors that will help FEMA more accurately and consistently determine whether the impact of an event is beyond State and local government capabilities. FEMA is revising 44 CFR 206.48(b) to identify the following factors: (1) State Fiscal Capacity and Resource Availability, (2) Uninsured Home and Personal Property Losses, (3) Disaster Impacted Population Profile, (4) Impact to Community Infrastructure, (5) Casualties, and (6) Disaster Related Unemployment. As is currently the practice, FEMA will continue to use a myriad of factors and data to formulate its recommendations to the President on major disaster Start Printed Page 10633 declarations that authorize IA. No single data point or factor will be determinative of FEMA’s recommendation nor will any single factor necessarily affect the President’s ultimate determination of whether a major disaster declaration authorizing IA is warranted. FEMA purposely declined to be more restrictive in areas of the final rule because disaster events can vary greatly from incident to incident, and FEMA must retain the flexibility and discretion to properly advise the President regarding situations or circumstances that FEMA may not be able to fully predict or define in a rulemaking. Moreover, as a result of climatological and demographic changes, disaster trends are likely to continue to change in ways that may require policy shifts at the agency or Administration level. FEMA wants to ensure that we retain as much flexibility as possible. The final factors do not limit the President’s discretion regarding major disaster declarations.”