WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Denham, Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, held an oversight hearing today to examine ways to better manage federal disaster recovery programs, help communities recover sooner following major disasters, and save taxpayer dollars. Denham stressed the importance of streamlining our recovery process, especially in a time of economic crisis and high unemployment, according to a news release.
Denham called this hearing in anticipation of reauthorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the federal government’s lead agency for preparing for, mitigating against, responding to, and recovering from disasters and emergencies. When states and local resources are overwhelmed by a disaster, federal resources are deployed in support of local response efforts.
“Many of FEMA’s regulations and policies have created hurdles and so much red tape that communities devastated by disasters have often found it frustrating to navigate the recovery process. With high unemployment, budget deficits, and everyone having to tighten their belts, we just simply cannot afford to have recovery drag on,” said Denham. “I hope today we can hear from our witnesses on how the recovery process can be streamlined and improved.”
Today’s panel focused on finding ways to streamline the recovery process through expedited assistance processes, improved coordination among the relevant federal agencies, supporting mitigating efforts before a disaster strikes, and ensuring proper planning, the news release said.
The subcommittee received testimony from FEMA and state and local emergency managers. FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate testified this morning, saying, “Pre-disaster preparedness and mitigation are critical to recovery and resilience-building. Additionally, timely decisions can significantly reduce recovery time and cost. Therefore, it is important that all members of the team understand their role in disaster response and recovery and to begin to prepare for disasters before they occur.”