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Coronavirus / Industry News

March 16, 2020

FEMA Faces Staffing, Resources Challenge in Dealing with Coronavirus

President Trump’s declaration of a National Emergency due to the Coronavirus pandemic makes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) a central player in the federal government’s response, but the agency is already stretched thin by numerous natural disasters.

Under a National Emergency, states, territories, and tribes can have FEMA pay 75 percent of their costs from providing emergency protection related to the Coronavirus. According to the agency, nine states and one territory have been approved for reimbursement: California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Washington, and the Virgin Islands.

Additionally, governors can ask the federal government to declare their state a “major disaster,” which will make them eligible to receive an expansive package of FEMA aid. According to E&E News, President Trump has indicated he would approve governors’ requests, which would give states reimbursements for damage to public facilities and infrastructure and potentially emergency grants to individuals who have lost jobs or homes.

FEMA faces staffing challenges both because the agency has had trouble attracting and retaining personnel, and it continues to deal with a spate of natural disasters. According to the agency, 5,300 personnel are deployed at 42 disaster sites around the country, and the National Weather Service is forecasting widespread flooding in the central and southeastern United States over the next three months.


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