FEMA DRF Major Disaster Assistance: New Jersey

This report discusses the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) that is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is the primary source of funding used to provide assistance following a major disaster declaration.

January 28, 2015 FEMA DRF Major Disaster Assistance: New Jersey Overview The Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is the primary source of funding used to provide assistance following a major disaster declaration. The authority to declare a major disaster is provided to the President under the Robert T. Stafford Emergency Relief and Disaster Assistance Act (P.L. 93-288). Figure 1. DRF Obligations for Declared Major Disasters in New Jersey, by Fiscal Year Figures are in millions of dollars. The number of declarations per year is in parentheses. The information below includes only the funding provided as a result of a major disaster declaration, not other assistance funded through the DRF. Additionally, this information does not include other federal sources of disaster assistance, such as Small Business Administration disaster loans. FEMA administers disaster relief through regional offices around the country. New Jersey is part of Region II, headquartered in New York, NY. Major Disaster Declarations: FY2000-FY2013 A total of 17 major disaster declarations were made in the state of New Jersey between FY2000 and FY2013. During that time, there were four requests for major disaster declarations that were denied. The approved declarations led to $3.8 billion in federal obligations from the Disaster Relief Fund. This funding does not include the assistance that was provided directly by the state, either as a cost-share for federal assistance, or through the state’s own authorities and programs. There was a high level of variation in the amount of funding obligated each year, with nearly $3.0 billion obligated in FY2013 alone. Figure 1 displays the total funding obligated to New Jersey each year. The highest number of declarations in one year occurred in FY2010, when New Jersey received four declarations. Significant Incidents The most significant incident in the state of New Jersey was Hurricane Sandy, which occurred in FY2013. Obligations for this single incident are much higher than any previous incident in the state’s history. Hurricane Sandy was also different from prior major disaster declarations because the federal government adjusted the cost-share to provide more resources from the Disaster Relief Fund. Source: CRS analysis of FEMA DRF obligations data as of June 2014. Notes: Figures above reflect both actual obligations and projected obligations. Only obligations from the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund are included. Please consult the “Additional Resources” section for information on other federal assistance programs. www.crs.gov | 7-5700 FEMA DRF Major Disaster Assistance: New Jersey Types of Assistance Provided for Major Disasters Other Assistance Funded Through the DRF A major disaster declaration can include funding for different purposes, depending on the needs of the state. These purposes include: In addition to the major disasters listed above, there are also other forms of assistance that are funded through the Disaster Relief Fund. These include both Emergency Declarations and Fire Management Assistance Grants. The assistance provided for these declarations typically involves lower obligation levels than major disaster declarations, although there is significant variation across incidents. • Public Assistance (PA) that is used to conduct debris removal operations, repair or replace damaged public infrastructure, and other assistance; • Individual Assistance (IA) that provides direct aid to impacted households, and other assistance; • Hazard Mitigation (HM) that funds resilience projects and programs, typically across the whole state; and Emergency Declarations are often made at the time a threat is recognized and are issued to assist state, local, and tribal efforts prior to the incident. • FEMA administrative costs associated with each Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAGs) provide aid for the control, management, and mitigation of fires. The decision to provide certain types of assistance is made at the time of the major disaster declaration. For many major disasters, all of the assistance types outlined above will be authorized. For others, some assistance types will not be included. Figure 2 compares the amounts expended for different types of assistance that were provided to New Jersey from FY2000 to FY2013. Additional Resources disaster declaration. Figure 2. DRF Assistance for New Jersey, by Type (FY2000-FY2013) There are many existing CRS products that address issues related to the Disaster Relief Fund, the disaster declaration process, and federal emergency management policy. Below is a list of several of these resources: • CRS Report R41981, Congressional Primer on Responding to Major Disasters and Emergencies • CRS Report R43519, Natural Disasters and Hazards: CRS Experts • CRS Report RL34146, FEMA’s Disaster Declaration Process: A Primer • CRS Report R42845, Federal Emergency Management: A Brief Introduction • CRS Report R43537, FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund: Overview and Selected Issues • CRS Report RL33053, Federal Stafford Act Disaster Assistance: Presidential Declarations, Eligible Activities, and Funding FEMA is also responsible for administering the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). More information on whether your community participates in this program can be found in the NFIP Community Status Book at fema.gov. Source: CRS analysis of FEMA DRF obligation data as of June 2014. County Impact Since 2000, 21 counties in New Jersey have received aid under a major disaster declaration. Sussex, Atlantic, and Mercer counties have had more than any other counties, with nine each. CRS Experts FEMA Disaster Assistance: Francis X. McCarthy, fmccarthy@crs.loc.gov, 7-9533 Bruce R. Lindsay, blindsay@crs.loc.gov, 7-3752 Jared T. Brown, jbrown@crs.loc.gov, 7-4918 National Flood Insurance Program: Rawle King, rking@crs.loc.gov, 7-5975 Daniel J. Richardson, drichardson@crs.loc.gov, 7-2389 IF10088 www.crs.gov | 7-5700