Blunt, Graves, Long seek answers from FEMA on Missouri disaster concerns

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) must identify how it’s addressing federal disaster efforts in Missouri, according to a bipartisan, bicameral letter sent by members of the state’s congressional delegation, which included U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and U.S. Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Billy Long (R-MO).

Specifically, the lawmakers requested that FEMA leadership explain what steps they’ve taken to fairly implement Section 1232 of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 (DRRA) in light of presidentially declared disasters in Missouri this year, and the subsequent denials of Individual Assistance under the disaster declarations to several counties that experienced severe flooding, according to their Nov. 18 letter.

“The severity and magnitude of the flooding caused communities to be evacuated and has resulted in the destruction of homes, farms and businesses,” the lawmakers wrote. “The state and local governments continue to be burdened by the costs that have been incurred in the ongoing effort to protect life and property.”

The members also pointed out that some residents in the northwest part of the state haven’t been able to return to their homes since March due to persistent floodwaters.

“With these difficulties in mind, we ask for FEMA to provide detailed information into how ‘greater consideration to severe local impact or recent multiple disasters’ in accordance with Section 1232 of DRRA is objectively defined and measured. Furthermore, we ask you to provide specifics into how Section 1232 of DRRA has been implemented,” wrote the delegation, which was comprised of seven other members, including U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO).

The lawmakers also questioned FEMA administrators about May guidance it distributed on how localized impacts should be described to the agency.

“What is the mechanism used to administer this guidance and what information is included in such guidance? How does FEMA ensure that there is no discrepancy between how regional divisions execute this guidance?” they asked.