A bill introduced by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) to ensure residents receive better guidance, more accurate information, and greater certainty from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following a disaster passed in the U.S. House of Representatives with overwhelmingly bipartisan support by a vote of 408-0.
“This bill requires FEMA to focus efforts on its core mission – helping people recover from disasters,” Hartzler said. “When people go through a disaster, such as floods and tornadoes, the people need to know that relief is on the way. From past disasters in Missouri, there have been repeated incidents of lost or misplaced paperwork, poor coordination between state and federal agencies, and general lack of information from FEMA officials. There are still pending cases from 2013 following the floods in my district! The people deserve better, and this bill delivers.”
Hartzler spoke on the House floor during debate of her bill. Her remarks can be seen here.
This legislation passed unanimously in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in February. Members of the committee from both sides of the aisle expressed support for this bill.
The FEMA Relief Improvement Act requires FEMA to create a plan that will provide consistent guidance and accurate information following a disaster. Specifically, it requires FEMA to create an action plan to improve field transition by:
-Providing consistent guidance to applicants on FEMA disaster funding procedures during the response to an emergency or disaster;
-Conducting appropriate record maintenance and transfer of documents to new teams during staff transitions;
-Providing accurate assistance to applicants and grantees to ease the administrative burden throughout the process of obtaining and monitoring assistance;
-Implementing operating procedures and documenting retention requirements to ensure the maintenance of appropriate records throughout the lifecycle of the disaster; and
-Identifying new technologies that further aid the disaster workforce in partnering with state, local, and tribal governments and private nonprofits in the wake of a disaster to educate, assist, and inform applicants on the status of their disaster assistance applications.