Today, Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA-02) introduced the FEMA Reform Act of 2012, a bill that targets swift disaster assistance to communities following a natural disaster.
"Time and time again Louisianans have endured natural disasters that endanger our lives, livelihoods and property," said Congressman Richmond. "This legislation seeks to strengthen our confidence in the Federal government as partners in our recovery. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, our communities and local government entities are there on the ground helping our residents pick up the pieces of their lives. The FEMA Reform Act would expedite funding to those communities to repair infrastructure, cars, and other equipment. Also, no one understands the needs of a community like someone from that area. That's why my bill requires FEMA to immediately hire local workers to process disaster applications for communities and non-profits eligible for assistance."
Specifically, the FEMA Reform Act of 2012:
Expedites funding for infrastructure repairs both state and local:
Not later than three days after the Federal Emergency Management Agency completes a preliminary damage assessment for any State or local government, 50 percent of the amount of damages will be released to the State or local government.
Ensures that mitigation funding is sent to the areas with the most damage:
Mitigation funding for a State under section 404 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5170c) will be disseminated with-in areas of the State in proportion to the damage of a major disaster in such areas.
Helps local governments replace cars and other equipment damaged by a disaster:
Allows FEMA to fund the repair or replacement vehicles and equipment, particularly vehicles and equipment used for public safety, transportation, and service. If the vehicle or equipment is more than 50 percent damaged, the actual cash value of such vehicle or equipment may be used to replace it.
Allows disaster victims to return to their communities:
Authorizes the President to use emergency funding for repair of permanent structures (including rental units) needed for temporary or transitional housing within the affected communities.
Requires that FEMA hire local workers after a disaster:
After major disasters, FEMA shall establish a recruiting and training office in such area as soon as possible to facilitate the hiring of local workers to assist with public assistance applications.
This will reduce costs (no per diems) and increase cooperation among officials and disaster victims.
Requires a study of best practices to reduce service interruptions during and after a hurricane:
Not later than 180 after the date of enactment of this Act, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Department of Energy will evaluate and complete a report outlining recommendations to public and private utilities, including electrical, water, sewer, and telecommunications, to reduce service interruptions during and after a hurricane.
"The devastation that has torn through the Gulf coast with Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike and now Isaac would be far too overwhelming for most states. Louisianans need to know that we are not on this road to recovery alone."