The Federal Emergency Management Agency
FEMA is a division of the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1978 as Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 3 and implemented by Executive Orders by President Jimmy Carter in April of 1979.
In March 2007, FEMA was made a part of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security making it one of the most important agencies under the auspices of the federal government.
FEMA was created to work in conjunction with local, state, and other federal agencies to provide logistical support, money, and the resources needed to clean up and rebuild after a disaster. The governor of the affected state or territory has to declare a state of emergency and then request aid from the federal government.
Over the years, FEMA has been reorganized and expanded in different ways to meet a wide range of possible emergencies including floods, earthquakes, tornados, fires, acts of terrorism, chemical spills, nuclear accidents, or any number of things can cause widespread death and destruction.
A disaster can happen at any time and leave even the most prepared individuals in need of assistance. A well thought out plan of action is needed when a disaster strikes. This includes a coordinated effort to tackle the aftermath of the disaster with short term and long term support such as ferrying in food, water, shelter, clothing, and providing the manpower to manage and distribute it effectively.
Airplanes, helicopters, drones, trucks, cars, boats and ships, satellites, portable hospitals, mobil homes, and heavy equipment are all staged and ready for immediate use as part of FEMA's response. The goal is to ensure that help is able to get to any disaster area as quickly as possible.
The agency is entrusted to make recommendations to the president, who in turn, authorizes FEMA to make a rapid response to the location of the disaster. The FEMA response is designed to give those who are affected by a disaster the assistance that is needed to get their lives back on track.
The way FEMA is organized, it insures a rapid and effective response whenever and wherever assistance is needed even if the assistance has to come from regional centers that are located in other areas that are outside the disaster zone.
FEMA manages three categories of assistance programs: individual assistance, public assistance and hazard mitigation assistance. Disaster assistance services are activated upon the President's disaster declaration. However, the assistance provided is generally determined by the needs found in the damage assessment.
Individual Assistance Programs
In disaster declared areas, FEMA programs provide assistance to individuals, households and small business who suffered losses that are not covered by insurance. Types of assistance provided include:
Public Assistance Programs
State and local government agencies and certain private nonprofit organizations providing critical services are provided federal funds to repair, restore, reconstruct or replace public facilities or infrastructure damaged or destroyed by a disaster. Projects receiving public assistance fall in the following categories:
Hazard Mitigation Programs
FEMA provides funds to state and local governments to reduce or eliminate long-term risk from natural hazards. The types of mitigation projects funded by FEMA include:
FEMA is funded with an annual budget of 13 billion dollars. As a whole, FEMA covers all the states and territories of the United States. There are 10 FEMA Regional Districts that are set up to coordinate necessary relief efforts with state and local jurisdictions.
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