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A Brief Summary of FEMA

A Brief Summary of FEMA

What is FEMA

FEMA stands for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and was created by the Presidential Reorganization Plan in 1978 and was implemented when Jimmy Carter signed two executive orders in April of 1979. FEMA is now part of the Department of Homeland Security, which was created as a response to the attacks on September 11, 2001 in November of 2002. FEMA has an annual budget of approximately $14 billion, which includes administration costs of about $4 billion and disaster relief of $7.5 billion according 2016 budget numbers. The disaster relief fund (DRF) is where money is appropriated to natural and man-made disasters such as Hurricanes, floods fires, terrorist attacks, etc.

The agency is organized into a series about 30 different departments, each of which has an administrator and a deputy. A complete current organizational chart can be found at here.

FEMA Funding for States

In order for a state to get funding from FEMA after a natural disaster, the state must first evaluate it’s capabilities of handling the relief efforts on it’s own, without the help of the federal government. Only after the Governor of the state makes the determination that they are unable to provide enough funding to adequately handle the clean up and rebuilding efforts, will she make a request to the Regional Director of the region according to the organization chart. The director will then send a request to the President of the United States. The President must declare the area a major disaster or emergency in order for funding to be appropriated. The speed and timeliness of this declaration has been the source of much political debate, as was the case in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

How does the FEMA funding get allocated

The funding provided by FEMA is called Disaster Relief funding, and is used to help individuals and state agencies pay for the clean up and rebuilding after a natural disaster. As with many (ok, all) government organizations, in order to get funding there is a process of filing paperwork. That process is aided by a Public Assistance Coordinator, or PAC. The PAC is there to help individuals navigate the system from request to funding approval, including help in filing and documenting the damage. The funding is approved based on need, timeliness of the applications and funds available. Some of the determinations include the urgency and severity of the need, whether or not private insurance can pay for the cost, and the effect of the need on the community as a whole.

Where does the funding go?

According to recent FEMA records, the most expensive FEMA funded project has been for roads and bridges repairs for New Orleans, which was a total of $1,413,296.96 (yes, that is $1.4 billion!). The second most expensive project funded by FEMA is also in Louisiana and was for the repair of Public Buildings to the tune of $1,301,543,639.41. Out of the top ten largest projects funded by FEMA, New York had six, Louisiana had three and Puerto Rico had one. This makes sense since Louisiana suffered from Hurricane Katrina, and New York was the site of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The least expensive FEMA funded project was $.01 for some public buildings in Texas. Why funding for a 1 cent project was need is beyond me!

More Information

If your state has been approved for a recent disaster and you are wanting to apply for disaster relief assistance, you can go online at or call 800-621-3362. If you are an individual, business or government agency and are looking for portable power cable assemblies or distribution equipment, give ATI electrical Supply a call, we’d love to help.

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