FEMA To the Rescue!
I moved to Northern California in July of 1990. I called it "Summer." Californians called it "Fire," and a FEMA field office opened up down the street. Then it started to cool off and rain. "Fall," I thought. "Flood," they said. And the FEMA field office re-opened. Later the next Spring, uh, I mean "Earthquake," a new FEMA field office opened a few miles to the north. Fortunately, I have not yet experienced California's other season, "Riot." But if I ever do, you can bet FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be there to help the victims recover.
FEMA was founded in 1979 as an independent agency of the federal government. The agency reports directly to the President of the United States on their mission. Being;
" ...to reduce loss of life and property and protect our nation's critical infrastructure from all types of hazards through a comprehensive, risk-based, emergency management program of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery."
In other words, the only time you hear about FEMA is after something really bad has happened. However, through programs of mitigation and preparedness, FEMA works to prevent those disasters that can be prevented, and to reduce the severity of damage caused by natural disasters, like earthquakes, or hurricanes. Still, FEMA is best known for their efforts in response and recovery.
How FEMA Helps After a Disaster
Soon after the President of the United States officially declares the affected location a "disaster area," FEMA will come to town and begin the 5-step recovery process consisting of:
1. Assessing the damage to decide what resources are needed.
2. Making disaster aid available and coordinate the loan application and disbursement process.
3. Through the FEMA Field Office, coordinate the assistance responses of other federal agencies.
4. Keep the public informed until the recovery process is completed. (The Recovery Times)
5. Identify ways future disasters may be prevented or mitigated.
What Types of Aid FEMA Provides
FEMA provides assistance to state and local governments for repairs and debris removal, but is best known for individual assistance programs to citizens who have suffered loss or damage to homes and businesses, or personal property. FEMA is especially proud of their assistance programs for people who have lost pets in disasters. Primary forms of individual aid include:
Housing Assistance - in the form of temporary housing, rental assistance and limited funding of emergency repairs. This assistance speaks to the victims' immediate needs, and may be made available regardless of the victims' insurance or ability to pay. FEMA works closely with the American Red Cross to provide immediate care and housing for victims.
Low Interest Disaster Loans - issued through the Small Business Administration, or Farm Service Agency, these loans are intended to cover the victims' uninsured losses. In other words, if your personal home insurance will completely pay for the rebuilding of your home, you probably won't qualify for a FEMA loan.
Individual and Family Grants - are available for the most serious disaster-related needs. These grants are available to those who are unable to repay a loan.
Other Aid Programs - FEMA will also help by providing crisis counseling, unemployment assistance and legal aid.
Soon after a disaster happens, FEMA will establish a local Disaster Recovery Center and notify the public of phone numbers and other ways to access the FEMA staff. In major disasters, FEMA has dispatched as many as 4,000 employees and volunteers to join in recover efforts. Victims can also call FEMA's 24 disaster recovery line at 1-800-462-9029 (TTY: 1-800-462-7585) for information.
Are You At Risk?
FEMA assistance is available to all 50 states and all U.S Territories. Different types of disasters tend to occur more frequently in some geographical areas than others.
Avalanches, Droughts, Earthquakes, Extreme Heat, Floods, Landslides, Land Subsidence, Storm Surge, Tsunamis, Volcanos, Wildfires, Windstorms
Droughts, Earthquakes, Expansive Soil, Extreme Heat, Floods, Hailstorms, Severe Winterstorms, Thunder & Lightning, Tornadoes, Windstorms
Coastal Erosion, Droughts, Earthquakes, Expansive Soil, Extreme Heat, Floods, Land Subsidence, Storm Surges, Thunder and Lightning, Windstorms, Tornadoes, Tropical Storms, Hurricanes
Coastal Erosion, Earthquakes, Extreme Heat, Floods, Landslides, Severe Windstorms, Storm Surges
Americans often wonder where their tax dollars go and what they are getting for their money. The thousands of disaster victims who have been helped by FEMA know one answer.
Main FEMA Links
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