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FEMA outlines a decade of progress after Hurricane Katrina

Washington, July 30 – This month marks the tenth year since the devastating 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Katrina was one of the strongest storms to impact the coast of the U.S., causing widespread devastation and affecting an estimated 90,000 square miles along the central Gulf Coast states. Less than a month later, Hurricane Rita and then Hurricane Wilma in October made landfall compounding an already catastrophic situation.

Ten years into the recovery, FEMA continues to support communities and families, working side-by-side with state, local, and tribal partners to finish the job of rebuilding communities that are the economic engines and lifeblood of the Gulf Coast. To date, FEMA has provided $6.7 billion to more than one million individuals and households. FEMA provided more than $131 billion to the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for public works projects in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to assist with recovery efforts.

“Today, FEMA has the authority necessary to lean forward and leverage the entire emergency management team in response and recovery efforts,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “This team includes not only government but also the private sector, non-profits, and citizens themselves. We support survivors and this holistic approach emphasizes the importance of working as a team to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.”

Since 2005, FEMA has significantly improved its ability to assist communities in responding to and recovering from disasters. With the support of Congress, FEMA was provided additional authorities and tools to become a more effective and efficient agency, one that is focused on putting survivors first.  Specifically, the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA) of 2006, gave FEMA clear guidance on its mission and priorities, and provided the legislative authorities needed to better partner with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments before, during, and after disasters.  

Since 2005, FEMA gained statutory authority to surge resources to states, tribes, and territories ahead of a disaster should the capacity of states, tribes or territories become overwhelmed. This authority expedites FEMA’s ability to respond to disasters if and when a state, tribe or territory requests support and a disaster is declared by the President. 

These full time, rapid response teams are able to deploy within two hours and arrive at an incident within 12 hours to support the local incident commander. The teams support the initial establishment of a unified command and provide situational awareness for federal and state decision makers crucial to determining the level and type of immediate federal support that may be required.

Since 2005, FEMA has better integrated search and rescue assets from across diverse Federal agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of the Interior. 

Establish the Regional Emergency Communications Coordination Working Groups (RECCWGs) to serve as the primary focal points for interoperable communications coordination among federal, state, local, tribal and territorial emergency responders. The statute charges these RECCWGs with coordinating effective multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency emergency communications networks for use during disasters and emergencies.

Enhanced partnerships with the private sector. As part of this effort, FEMA established the National Business Emergency Operations Center that serves as a clearinghouse for two-way information sharing between public and private sector stakeholders in preparing for, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating disasters.

Support for the inclusion of people with access and functional needs.

The Office of Disability Integration and Coordination was established to provide technical assistance and guidance for a wide range of emergency management activities, including equal access to emergency programs and services and meeting the access and functional needs of the whole community. This includes: preparedness, exercises, emergency alerting, accessible transportation and shelter accessibility guidance, assistive technology devices for accessible communication, accessible housing and grant guidance to states for accessibility, and partnership and stakeholder outreach.

 

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