Finally, Limiting Federal Payment for Repetitive Disaster Damage

FEMA issued a badly needed proposed rule on Tuesday that would reduce federal payments for repairing or restoring any eligible public facility or private nonprofit facility after a major disaster if it was damaged more than once by a similar event within the previous 10 years, if the owner did not take steps to address that hazard. Although friends of mine live on Texas' Gulf Coast, an area repeatedly hit by hurricanes in recent years, I strongly believe repeatedly federally subsidizing the restoration of structures there and in similar locations is foolish.

Tuesday's proposed rule would cut the federal share of assistance from 75 percent to no less than 25 percent to repair, restore, reconstruct, or replace any eligible public facility or private nonprofit facility "following an event associated with a major disaster that has been damaged, on more than one occasion within the preceding 10-year period, by the same type of event; and the owner of which has failed to implement appropriate mitigation measures to address the hazard that caused the damage to the facility." The rule defines facility to mean "any publicly or privately owned building, works, system, or equipment, built or manufactured, or an improved and maintained natural feature," and it says land used for agricultural purposes is not covered by the rule.

The rule would implement part of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. FEMA is accepting comments via www.regulations.gov until Oct. 13, 2009, or e-mail FEMA-RULES@dhs.gov. Include Docket ID FEMA-2008-0006 in the subject line of the message.

The rule would cut federal payments only when a third occurrence of damage to an eligible facility occurs. The agency said it considered cutting the payments in the second occurrence when it drafted the rule, but federal law says the reduction in benefits can occur only to a facility "that has been damaged, on more than one occasion."

There is no damage threshold amount where the provision does applies, but eligible facilities that sustain less than $1,000 in damages during a major disaster are not eligible for FEMA assistance. To collect repetitive loss information, FEMA will track disaster assistance after presidentially declared major disasters by using its National Emergency Management Information System/Emergency Management Mission Integrated Environment computer program and database.

Posted by Jerry Laws on Aug 12, 2009


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