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FEMA requests additional $9 billion for disaster relief fund

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is asking the Biden Administration for an additional $9 billion to pad its disaster relief fund for the remainder of FY 2024.

That was mentioned during the House Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday, where FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell appeared to discuss the Biden Administration’s $33.1 billion funding request for FEMA in FY 2025.

“At the DRF’s present funding levels, they may need to resort to immediate needs funding before the end of this fiscal year so as to preserve remaining DRF balances for life and safety response operations and other critical survival needs,” Criswell said. “To mitigate immediate needs funding risks, I urge the committee to act on the disaster supplemental request for fiscal year 2024 to request an additional $9 billion for the DRF.”

To mitigate immediate needs funding risks, I urge the committee to act on the disaster supplemental request for fiscal year 2024 to request an additional $9 billion for the DRF,” FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell said.

Bloomberg News.

If the DRF runs dry, as it is expected to in August according to Criswell, then the agency is forced to use funds exclusively from its immediate needs funding. But that is only for life-saving and life-sustaining activities, and only delays recovery projects and contributes to a greater FEMA deficit going forward.

“One of my priorities for this year is continuing to boost the capacity of state and local, tribal and territorial partners to respond to extreme weather,” Criswell said. “We continue to work with our state and locals to understand where their gaps are and what we can continue to do to help build their own readiness.”

The FY 2025 budget request also includes $1 billion for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program.

For FY 2025, FEMA is requesting a total of $22.7 billion for the DRF, a $2 billion increase over FY 2024 levels and Criswell cited Maui and the wildfires last year that devastated most of the island as an example of continued need for resources.

“Emergency management has changed in recent years, and emergency managers across the country – at every level of government – are asked to do more, and FEMA is no exception,” Criswell said.

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