Damage Assessment

Summer storm season is upon us and many local governments are experiencing local storm damage.  But many local governments only conduct damage assessments when there is a prospect for a FEMA declaration.  Technology and workflow improvements have made damage assessments more efficient to conduct, thus, enabling the Emergency Manager to execute their damage assessment process to document local storm damage.

NWS Local Storm Damage Map

But what are the benefits to the local government in doing so?  Here are five: Continue Reading

A number of Counties I’ve talked with have been curious on why regular time forced labor was allowed for Hurricane Sandy debris management operations.  The answer is that Congress changed the Stafford Act for Debris Removal Assistance to reduce the administration time and expense for Public Assistance grants.

Debris Management Operations

After Hurricane Sandy hit back in November, FEMA issued a revised rule to allow reimbursement for the straight time (or regular time) salaries of local government employees who perform debris management duties for Hurricane Sandy.  Up until this ruling, only overtime was reimbursable.

The good news for local governments is that the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013, which became law last January, changed the Stafford Act to make this rule permanent for all disasters.  It also added other debris-removal-related authorities for FEMA under an “Alternative Procedure for Debris Removal Assistance” including: Continue Reading

After a disaster local government, state representatives, and FEMA work together to perform a preliminary damage assessment (PDA) to determine the impact and magnitude of the damage and survey the needs of the community.

In 2008 the Government Accountability Office reported these initial damage estimates immediately following a disaster have been off by over 55%.

Preliminary Damage Assessment Accuracies

Percentage Difference between Estimated and Actual Costs for 83 Noncatastrophic Natural Disasters from 2000 through 2004

The inaccuracies with the preliminary damage assessments has caused FEMA problems in trying to determine the funding levels needed and caused local communities problems in determining resources needed for recovery efforts, such as workload for debris removal contractors and building code inspectors.

In a May 2012 the DHS Office of Inspector General documented several reasons for the inaccuracies of PDAs: Continue Reading