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Proposal to Shift Disaster Costs

Where do disaster costs belong?

Who should pay for disaster costs? Is it the individual property owner? Is it the local and state government that suffers disaster damages to their publicly owned property? Or, is the federal government supposed to be the rich Uncle Sam who bails us out when we have disasters that sometimes are minor hiccups, but when there are no financial reserves or insurance in place become problematic.

See the IAEM item below on a recent FEMA proposal. And, you might find this Disaster Tough podcast interesting — it's an interview with Brock Long, a former FEMA administrator, who has strong opinions on becoming more disaster self-sufficient as individuals and governments. 

"IAEM-USA has submitted comments to FEMA in opposition to the proposed revision to the Disaster Declaration Factor of the Public Assistance Program. IAEM-USA President Judson Freed, CEM, will participate in a public meeting on Feb. 24, 2021, on this topic.

"In short, IAEM-USA feels there are legitimate policy questions related to the per-capita indicator and the declarations process, but FEMA's proposed change, coming as it does when state and local budgets are already stretched to the breaking point, is ill-timed. IAEM-USA urges FEMA to withdraw this misguided proposal and start over once COVID is behind us and the economy regains some balance. Then, and only then, should FEMA, Capitol Hill, and state and local stakeholders representing the whole of America consider this as part of a comprehensive effort to reduce the costs of disasters to the federal government in a way that does not bankrupt state and local governments.

"FEMA is accepting written comments on the current proposal until March 12, 2021.

"Complete information on the changes, public meeting, and how to submit comments is available at

"Members may direct questions to IAEM Government Affairs Director Thad Huguley."

Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.
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