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FEMA's disaster aid fund drying up


The Federal Emergency Management Agency is among the federal offices participating in the Roofing Installation Support Emergency Utilization Program or RISEUP to help temporarily repair metal roofs damaged by typhoon Mawar. Photo courtesy of FEMA

By Dana Williams


With powerful storms becoming more frequent and costly in the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund is projected to run out of money by August, ending up more than $10 billion in the hole by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.


The agency’s most recent monthly financial report has raised concern among lawmakers in disaster-prone areas. Guam residents have been warned that the El Niño weather pattern could bring a busier-than-usual season to the region.


Guam Del. James Moylan and Florida Rep. Jared Moskowitz have introduced legislation to replenish money in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.


Their bill, H.R. 4295, is the House companion bill for S. 2029, introduced by Marco Rubio and Tim Scott of Florida and Roger Wicker of Mississippi. The legislation would appropriate $11.5 billion for FEMA disaster relief.


“Upon learning of FEMA’s financial state as it correlates with Guam’s recovery efforts, it was vital for our team to identify solutions, to ensure that no one in our community is denied the opportunity of disaster relief benefits due to the funding source depleting,” Moylan said in a news release Monday.


Hurricane season in the north Atlantic runs from June through November, and the nation’s largest wildfires typically occur in the western U.S. during the summer months.


A news release issued by Rubio states that unless Congress takes action to prevent a shortfall, “there will be no funds for unforeseen major disasters until the end of the fiscal year.”


After hearing about the Senate efforts, Moylan reached out to express interest in co-leading a House companion bill, and he was referred to Moskowitz’s office.

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Moskowitz, a Democrat, was a former director of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management. He was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, to lead Florida’s recovery efforts from hurricane Michael.


“Jared is a bipartisan team player who understands disaster relief. He was also credited with historic reimbursements for the state and is someone we look forward to seeking guidance from as we pursue our recovery efforts as well,” Moylan said.


Moylan and Moskowitz will look for additional co-sponsors in the House, working with their Senate counterparts, and advocating for the movement of the legislation.


Moylan has also reached out to President Joe Biden to find out the administration’s position on the issue.


Given the amount of money the lawmakers are seeking, “there will certainly be some challenges with this measure,” Moylan said. “Our belief is that it is inevitable that Congress replenishes the disaster relief fund, but the question is by how much, and in what approach.”




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