07/15/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/15/2021 13:27
WASHINGTON - Following a stretch of severe weather events in Illinois - such as flooding and tornadoes -U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today announced the introduction of the Fairness in Federal Disaster Declarations Act. The bill would reform the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster declaration process to make it more transparent and equitable to small and rural communities in larger states like Illinois. Due to FEMA's disaster declaration process, states like Illinois face difficulties qualifying for federal aid to repair damage caused by natural disasters. Durbin first introduced the bill in 2012 afterFEMA denied federal assistance to Harrisburg, Illinois, and Ridgway, Illinois, following a devastating outbreak of storms and tornadoes.
'Illinois often struggles to receive aid from the federal government after severe weather strikes a community causing serious damage. We must fix the broken metrics FEMA uses to determine disaster assistance and increase fairness in the process. Illinois taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the entire bill when disasters strike,' said Durbin.
'As Americans, it's our responsibility to support one another in times of need, especially when our communities are devastated by disasters and severe weather. Unfortunately, the current FEMA formula fails to provide many smaller, rural communities in Illinois with the resources they need to rebuild and recover,' said Duckworth. 'Disasters don't discriminate against communities based on their population size and what state they live in - and neither should FEMA. This legislation will make much-needed reforms so Illinoisans in every corner of the state can receive the resources and support they deserve after severe weather strikes.'
According to a report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), FEMA takes into account several factors when determining the need for Public and Individual Assistance. However, there is currently no standard for weighing the importance of each factor it considers, which leads to a highly subjective and uncertain process that leaves states and communities in limbo for weeks as their application is considered.
The Fairness in Federal Disaster Declarations Act of 2021 will provide more certainty and fairness to states and small communities impacted by disasters by giving FEMA a clearer, more substantive formula when evaluating disaster areas. This bill assigns a specific weight to each of the factors already used by FEMA, and adds other economic factors for the agency to consider when determining whether or not a disaster area should receive federal assistance.
The formula breakdown for Public Assistance specified in the legislation and a description of each factor currently used by FEMA is below:
The formula breakdown for Individual Assistance would be: