How FEMA Works

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has been a federal disaster relief agency since 1979.  FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that, as a nation, we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, and recover from and mitigate all hazards.  Even though FEMA is there after disaster strikes, it is not necessarily the most efficient disaster relief agency.

When disaster strikes, you can expect FEMA to be there, providing disaster relief for the victims. How does the process work? When disasters strike and people are in need of FEMA’s assistance, those affected by the disaster must fill out an application.  With all the recent disasters, there are many applications being submitted.  The agency can be very quick and send out disaster relief in hours, but in some cases, it can take days.  Sometimes, the applications received are filled out incorrectly or could be missing a signature, which would cause a delay in the process.  FEMA can proceed only if the president declares a major disaster.  Once that takes place, the process usually works like this:

  1. Local or state officials declare a state of emergency.  Local emergency crews and first responders work to deal with the disaster as best they can.
  2. State agencies respond.  This can include National Guard troops.
  3. Officials assess the damage.
  4. The governor of the state involved makes an official request for a disaster declaration, based on the damage assessment.
  5. FEMA makes a recommendation to the president, who either approves or denies the request.
  6. Once a presidential disaster declaration is made, FEMA can start providing assistance.

FEMA cannot assist with every disaster that happens, but when they do, they help out as best as humanly possible.  The agency was originally formed to stop the complications that usually result from multiple disaster agencies converging on the site of the disasters, yet it still has its flaws.  The process of getting help from this agency may be complex, but is a welcomed relief when disaster strikes.

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Taylor P.
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