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Garamendi Introduces FEMA Disaster Preparedness Improvement Act

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA03), a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, introduced the “FEMA Disaster Preparedness Improvement Act” (H.R.6071) to increase FEMA support for disaster preparedness and emergency response to California and other states. Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA05) is the bill’s original cosponsor.

“California continues to face devastating natural disasters fueled by climate change and public health emergencies like the coronavirus outbreak. In the 2018 Camp Fire, 85 lives were lost and over 18,000 structures were destroyed in Paradise by a wildfire that caused over $16 billion in damages. Californians and all Americans deserve the full-throated support of their federal government as they prepare for these increasingly severe natural disasters and public emergencies. That’s exactly what my legislation ensures. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Newsom’s administration on this and other priorities for our state,” said Congressman Garamendi (D-CA03).

“When disaster strikes, people want to know that the Federal government will be there for them at every step of the recovery process. That’s why I am proud to be an original coauthor of the FEMA Disaster Preparedness Improvement Act, which will increase the federal cost share of disaster clean up and allow our communities to better rebuild so they are more resilient to future disasters. This is a smart way for our community to be better prepared for future disasters, like wildfires,” said Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA05).

“FEMA’s grant programs help fund all-hazards planning and implement tangible projects that reduce the effects of future natural disasters,” said Director Mark Ghilarducci of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES)“These proposed changes would make both the Hazard Mitigation and Emergency Management Performance Grant Programs more efficient and flexible in building resilient communities by reducing risks to people and property while utilizing taxpayer dollars more effectively,” concluded Director Mark S. Ghilarducci, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES).

“California State Association of Counties (CSAC) applauds Congressman Garamendi for introducing the FEMA Disaster Preparedness Improvement Act. This important bill makes a number of common-sense reforms to federal law that will help California’s counties prepare for and better respond to wildfires, storms, earthquakes, and droughts. It also empowers communities to become more resilient in the face of these natural disasters and allows local officials and emergency managers to focus more on planning and recovery, and less on trying to identify large local matching funds. These types of investments will pay for themselves many times over in the years to come. More importantly, these reforms will help save lives,” said California State Association of Counties 1st Vice President and Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore.

Congressman Garamendi’s “FEMA Disaster Preparedness Improvement Act” (H.R.6071) institutes the following changes to FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation and Emergency Management Performance Grant Programs:

  • Increases the programs’ federal cost share from 75% and 50% respectably, to 85%.
  • Makes designated “special flood hazard areas” under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) automatically eligible for FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grants.
  • Exempts the time it takes to complete environmental reviews (under federal or state laws) from the 36-month deadline to complete FEMA-funded hazard mitigation projects.
  • Directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report to Congress on the challenges faced by States and U.S. territories in utilizing FEMA’s Public Assistance Program Alternative Procedures, which allows FEMA to fund up-front major disaster-recovery projects (so-called “permanent work”) in exchange for the state submitting a binding cost estimate for the project.

The Emergency Performance Grant Program provides federal support for state and local officials managing public health emergencies, such as the coronavirus outbreak.

The “FEMA Disaster Preparedness Improvement Act” (H.R.6071) awaits action by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, of which Congressman Garamendi is a senior member.

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