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Federal Disaster Recovery Programs: Brief Summaries

CRS Report for Congress
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
Federal Disaster Recovery Programs:
Brief Summaries
Carolyn V. Torsell
Information Research Specialist
August 10, 2012
Congressional Research Service
7-5700
www.crs.gov
RL31734
Federal Disaster Recovery Programs: Brief Summaries
Congressional Research Service
Summary
This report summarizes federal disaster assistance programs for use by Members of Congress and
their staff as they address the needs of their states, communities, and constituents. A number of
federal agencies provide assistance to individual victims, such as state, territorial, and local
governments and non-governmental entities following a disaster. The federal forms of assistance
include grants, loans, loan guarantees, temporary housing, and counseling.
The programs summarized in this report fall into two broad categories. First are programs for
disaster situations; most of these programs are administered by the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA). Second are general
assistance programs that may be used in either disaster situations, or to meet regular service
needs. Many federal agencies, including the Departments of Health and Human Services,
Housing and Urban Development, and Justice, administer programs that may be included in the
second category.
The programs in this report are primarily organized by recipient: individuals, state and local
governments, or businesses. These programs address short-term needs such as food and shelter,
and long-term needs such as repair of public utilities.
This report includes a list of CRS reports on disaster assistance as well as relevant federal agency
websites that provide information on disaster responses, updates on recovery efforts, and
resources on federal assistance programs.
This report will be updated as significant legislative or administrative changes occur.
Federal Disaster Recovery Programs: Brief Summaries
Congressional Research Service
Contents
Introduction...................................................................................................................................... 1
Program Selection Criteria............................................................................................................... 1
Federal Disaster Recovery Programs............................................................................................... 2
Assistance for Individuals and Families.................................................................................... 2
Individuals and Households Program.................................................................................. 2
Disaster Unemployment Assistance.................................................................................... 2
Dislocated Worker Activities .............................................................................................. 3
Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program........................................................................... 3
Public Safety Officers’ Educational Assistance Program................................................... 4
Physical Disaster Loans—Residential SBA Disaster Loans Available to
Homeowners and Renters ................................................................................................ 4
Cora Brown Fund................................................................................................................ 5
Assistance for Victims of Crime ......................................................................................... 5
Crisis Counseling ................................................................................................................ 5
Disaster Legal Services ....................................................................................................... 6
Tax Relief............................................................................................................................ 6
Assistance for State, Territorial, and Local Governments......................................................... 7
Public Assistance Grants..................................................................................................... 7
Hazard Mitigation Grants.................................................................................................... 7
Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants............................................................................................ 8
Community Disaster Loans................................................................................................. 8
Reimbursement for Firefighting on Federal Property ......................................................... 8
Fire Management Assistance Grant Program...................................................................... 9
Assistance for Small Businesses & Nonprofit Organizations ................................................... 9
Economic Injury Disaster Loans ......................................................................................... 9
Physical Disaster Loans—Businesses............................................................................... 10
Emergency Loans for Farms ............................................................................................. 10
National Flood Insurance Program ................................................................................... 10
General Assistance Programs .................................................................................................. 11
Other Sources of Information ........................................................................................................ 12
Selected CRS Reports.............................................................................................................. 12
Federal Agency Websites ........................................................................................................ 13
FEMA Website........................................................................................................................ 13
Disaster Assistance.gov..................................................................................................... 13
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance........................................................................... 13
Contacts
Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 14
Acknowledgments ......................................................................................................................... 14
Federal Disaster Recovery Programs: Brief Summaries
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Introduction
Federal agencies provide a range of assistance to individual victims; state, territorial, and local
governments; and non-governmental entities after major disasters, including certain terrorist
attacks. Types of aid include, but are not limited to, technical assistance, loans and loan
guarantees, grants, temporary housing, access to counseling professionals, and medical
assistance. The full range of federal disaster relief assistance is available after the President issues
a major disaster declaration pursuant to Stafford Act authority.1 More limited aid is available
under a Stafford Act emergency declaration2 or a declaration issued by a department or agency
head.3
This report identifies programs pertinent to the disaster recovery process. It provides brief
descriptive information to help congressional offices determine which programs merit further
consideration in the planning, organization, or implementation of recovery operations. Most of
the programs listed here are authorized as assistance programs and listed in the Catalog of
Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA). The list does not include ad hoc assistance that some
agencies provide in emergency or disaster situations.
Program Selection Criteria
Programs discussed in this report satisfy one or more of the following criteria:
• Congress expressly designated the program as a disaster relief or recovery
program.
• The program is applicable to disaster situations, even if not specifically
authorized for that purpose.
• The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal
agencies have used the program as an emergency response resource.
• The program is potentially useful for addressing short-term and long-term
recovery needs (e.g., assistance with processing survivor benefits or repair of
public facilities).
Most of the programs listed in this report are specifically authorized for disaster situations.
General assistance programs that may apply to disaster situations are described at the end of this
report.
As Congress and the Administration respond to domestic needs, particularly if terrorist attacks
occur, some of these programs may be altered. For the most up-to-date information on a
1 42 U.S.C. § 5170. For more information on the Stafford Act, see CRS Report RL33053, Federal Stafford Act Disaster
Assistance: Presidential Declarations, Eligible Activities, and Funding, by Francis X. McCarthy.
2 42 U.S.C. § 5191.
3 The Administrators of the Small Business Administration, Farm Services Agency, and the Secretaries of Agriculture
and Transportation, within statutory limitations, may issue disaster declarations for purposes of providing assistance
solely from their agencies. Citations to these authorities are presented in the relevant program summaries.
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particular program, please contact the listed CRS analyst or department or agency program
officers.
Federal Disaster Recovery Programs
Assistance for Individuals and Families
Individuals and Households Program
The Individuals and Households Program (IHP) is the primary vehicle for FEMA assistance to
individuals after the President issues a major disaster declaration. Congress appropriates money
for the IHP (and other aid authorized by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency
Assistance Act) to the Disaster Relief Fund. Grants assist disaster victims whose needs cannot be
met through other forms of assistance, such as insurance or other federal programs. Program
funds have a wide range of eligible uses, including temporary housing, limited housing repair or
replacement, and uninsured medical, dental, or other personal needs (generally referred to as
Other Needs Assistance [ONA]). While the federal share of temporary housing assistance is
100%, there is a statutory matching requirement that states contribute 25% of ONA funds. Grants
may not exceed $29,900 per individual or household, adjusted annually to reflect consumer price
changes; IHP assistance is generally limited to a period of 18 months. (Also see “Physical
Disaster Loans—Residential,” below, for additional assistance for homeowners and renters.)
Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Authority: 42 U.S.C. §§ 5174-5188
Regulation: 44 C.F.R. §§ 206.110-120
Phone: Office of Congressional Affairs, 202-646-4500
Website: http://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit/recoverydirectorate/
assistance-individuals-and
CFDA: 97.048-97.050
CRS Contact: Francis X. McCarthy, 202-707-9533
Disaster Unemployment Assistance
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) provides benefits to previously employed or selfemployed
individuals rendered jobless as a direct result of a major disaster, and who are not
eligible for regular federal/state unemployment compensation (UC). In certain cases, individuals
who have no work history or are unable to work may also be eligible for DUA benefits. DUA is
federally funded through FEMA, but is administered by the Department of Labor and state UC
agencies. Generally, individuals must apply for benefits within 30 days after the date the state
announces availability of DUA benefits. When applicants have good cause, they may file claims
after the 30-day deadline. This deadline may be extended; however, initial applications filed after
the 26th week following the declaration date will not be considered. When a reasonable
comparative earnings history can be constructed, DUA benefits are determined in a similar
manner to regular state UC benefit rules. The minimum weekly DUA benefit is required to be
half of the average weekly UC benefit for the state where the disaster occurred. DUA assistance
is available to eligible individuals as long as the major disaster continues, but no longer than 26
Federal Disaster Recovery Programs: Brief Summaries
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weeks after the disaster declaration. For more information, see CRS Report RS22022, Disaster
Unemployment Assistance (DUA), by Julie M. Whittaker.
Agency: Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration
Authority: 42 U.S.C. § 5177
Regulation: 20 C.F.R. § 625; 44 C.F.R. § 206.141
Contact: See listing of contacts for state UC Agencies, http://www.servicelocator.org/
OWSLinks.asp
Website: http://ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/disaster.asp
CFDA: 97.034
CRS Contact: Julie Whittaker, 202-707-2587
Dislocated Worker Activities
The dislocated worker program provides training and related assistance to persons who have lost
their jobs and are unlikely to return to their current jobs or industries. Of the funds appropriated,
80% are allocated by formula grants to states and local entities; 20% are reserved by the Secretary
of Labor for activities including national emergency grants to states or local entities. One type of
national emergency grant is Disaster Relief Employment Assistance, under which funds can be
made available to states to employ dislocated workers in temporary jobs involving recovery after
a national emergency. An individual may generally earn up to $12,000, excluding the cost of
fringe benefits, and be employed for up to six months or 1,040 hours, whichever is longer. An
individual may earn the full $12,000 in less than six months or 1,040 hours by working in a
higher skilled position for which a higher hourly wage is paid. There are no matching
requirements for Workforce Investment Act programs.
Agency: Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration
Authority: 20 U.S.C. § 9201
Regulation: 20 C.F.R. § 671
Contact: See listing of contacts for state Dislocated Worker/Rapid Response Coordinators at
http://www.doleta.gov/layoff/rapid_coord.cfm
Website: http://www.doleta.gov/layoff/workers.cfm
CFDA: 17.260
CRS Contact: Blake Naughton, 202-707-0376
Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program
This program provides benefits as lump-sum payments, currently $323,035.75 for eligible deaths
occurring on or after October 1, 2011, to spouses and children of public safety officers who have
been permanently disabled or have lost their lives while in the line of duty. The benefit may be
adjusted each year to reflect the percentage of change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). There
is no matching requirement for this program.
Agency: Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance
Authority: 42 U.S.C. § 3796
Regulation: 28 C.F.R. § 32.31 et seq.
Phone: Office of Justice Programs, PSOB, 202-307-0635
Website: https://www.bja.gov/ProgramDetails.aspx?Program_ID=78
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CFDA: 16.571
CRS Contact: Nathan James, 202-707-0264
Public Safety Officers’ Educational Assistance Program
This program provides an educational assistance allowance to eligible survivors of public safety
officers whose death or total permanent disability are the direct and proximate result of an injury
sustained in the line of duty. Funds may be used only to defray educational expenses, such as
tuition, room and board, and books. There is no matching requirement for this program.
Agency: Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance
Authority: 42 U.S.C. § 3796d
Regulation: 28 CFR § 32.31 to 32.37
Phone: Office of Justice Programs, PSOB, 202-307-0635
Website: https://www.bja.gov/ProgramDetails.aspx?Program_ID=78
CFDA: 16.615
CRS Contact: Nathan James, 202-707-0264
Physical Disaster Loans—Residential SBA Disaster Loans Available to
Homeowners and Renters
The majority of disaster loans provided by SBA (approximately 80%) are made available to
individuals and households rather than businesses. SBA disaster assistance is provided in the
form of loans, not grants, and therefore must be repaid to the federal government. Homeowners,
renters, and personal property owners located in a declared disaster area (and in contiguous
counties) may apply to the SBA for loans to help recover losses from the disaster. SBA’s Home
Disaster Loan Program falls into two categories: personal property loans and real property loans.
These loans cover only uninsured or underinsured property and primary residences. Loan
maturities may be up to 30 years.
Personal Property Loans
A personal property loan provides a creditworthy homeowner or renter with up to $40,000 to
repair or replace personal property items such as furniture, clothing, or automobiles damaged or
lost in a disaster. These loans cover only uninsured or underinsured property and primary
residences and cannot be used to replace extraordinarily expensive or irreplaceable items such as
antiques, recreational vehicles, or furs.
Real Property Loans
A creditworthy homeowner may apply for a “real property loan” of up to $200,000 to repair or
restore the homeowner’s primary residence to its pre-disaster condition. The loans may not be
used to upgrade homes or build additions, unless upgrades or changes are required by city or
county building codes. A real property loan may be increased by 20% for repairs to protect the
damaged property from a similar disaster in the future.
Agency: Small Business Administration
Authority: 15 U.S.C. § 636(b)
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Regulation: 13 C.F.R. §§ 123.200-204
Phone: Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs, 202-205-6700
Website: http://www.sba.gov/content/home-and-personal-property-loans
CFDA: 59.008
Contact: Bruce R. Lindsay, 202-707-3752
Cora Brown Fund
This unique fund directs payments to individuals and groups for disaster-related needs that have
not been or will not be met by government agencies or other organizations. Annual obligations
for the entire program are typically less than $225,000. There is no matching requirement for this
program and no limitation on the time period in which assistance is available.
Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Authority: 42 U.S.C. §5121 et seq.
Regulation: 44 C.F.R. § 206.181
Phone: Office of Congressional Affairs, 202-646-4500
Website: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2011-title44-vol1/pdf/CFR-2011-title44-vol1-
sec206-181.pdf
CFDA: 97.031
CRS Contact: Francis X. McCarthy, 202-707-9533
Assistance for Victims of Crime
This program offers a variety of services to victims, including emergency travel assistance,
assistance with obtaining information, and long-term mental health counseling. There is no
matching requirement for this program. For more information, see archived CRS Report
RL32579, Victims of Crime Compensation and Assistance: Background and Funding, by Celinda
Franco.
Agency: Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, Department of Justice
Authority: 42 U.S.C. § 10601
Regulation: no specific regulation
Phone: Victim Assistance Center, 1-800-331-0075
Website: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/
CFDA: 16.575, 16.576
CRS Contact: Nathan James, 202-707-0264
Crisis Counseling
This program provides grants that enable states to offer immediate crisis counseling services,
when required, to victims of a major federally declared disaster for the purpose of relieving
mental health problems caused or aggravated by a major disaster or its aftermath. Assistance is
short-term and community-oriented. Cost-share requirements are not imposed on this assistance.
The regulations specify that program funding generally ends after nine months, but time
extensions may be approved if requested by the state and approved by federal officials.
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Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Authority: 42 U.S.C. § 5183
Regulation: 44 C.F.R. § 206.171
Phone: Office of Congressional Affairs, 202-646-4500
Website: http://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit/recoverydirectorate/
crisis-counseling
CFDA: 97.032
CRS Contact: Sarah A. Lister , 202-707-7320
Disaster Legal Services
These services offer free legal assistance to individuals affected by a major federal disaster.
Types of assistance typically include help with insurance claims, preparing powers of attorney,
help with guardianships, and preparing new wills and other lost legal documents. Neither the
statute nor the regulations establish cost-share requirements or time limitations for assistance.
Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Authority: 42 U.S.C. § 5182
Regulation: 44 C.F.R. § 206.164
Phone: Office of Congressional Affairs, 202-646-4500
Website: http://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit/recoverydirectorate/
disaster-legal-services
CFDA: 97.033
CRS Contact: Francis X. McCarthy, 202-707-9533
Tax Relief
Individuals and businesses located in areas included in major disaster declarations are allowed
extra time (four years for homes and two years for business property) to replace property due to
involuntary conversion (e.g., due to destruction from wind or floods, theft, or property ordered to
be demolished). Casualty losses can also be deducted against income in the prior tax year, and
certain disaster relief grants are not taxable. These losses also include property loss due to
government ordered demolition because the property is unsafe. Disaster relief payments for
certain expenses are not subject to tax. The Internal Revenue Service also has the authority to
extend tax filing deadlines. Special provisions were enacted for the Katrina disaster area.4 That
law eliminates floors for the casualty loss deduction, extends the replacement period for
involuntary conversions to five years, allows penalty free withdrawals from IRAs and retirement
plans, allows earned income and child credits based on prior year incomes, allows tax credits for
retaining and hiring residents, and exclusions for cancellation of indebtedness.
Agency: Internal Revenue Service
Authority: Internal Revenue Code, Title 26 United States Code
Regulation: No specific regulation
Phone: Congressional Liaison, 202-622-9590
Website: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=108362,00.html
CRS Contact: Molly Sherlock, 202-707-7797
4 Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act of 2005, P.L. 109-73, 119 Stat. 2016 (2005).
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Assistance for State, Territorial, and Local Governments
Public Assistance Grants
Authorized by the Stafford Act, this is FEMA’s primary assistance program for state and local
governments. Public Assistance (PA) grants may be used to repair, replace, or restore disasterdamaged,
publicly owned facilities and the facilities of certain private nonprofit organizations
that perform a governmental function. This program has a wide range of eligible activities,
including removal of debris, repair of roads and bridges, and repair of public buildings and water
control facilities. There is generally a 25% matching requirement, but the statute authorizes the
President to waive part or all of the required match. The regulations specify that federal officials
must obligate funds for approved applications within 45 days of the approval of applications for
assistance (referred to as “Project Worksheets”). (Also see “Physical Disaster Loans—
Businesses,” below, for assistance for nonprofit organizations.)
Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Authority: 42 U.S.C. 5172 § (a)(1)(A)
Regulation: 44 CFR § 206, subparts G, H, I
Phone: Office of Congressional Affairs, 202-646-4500
Website: http://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit
CFDA: 97.036
CRS Contact: Francis X. McCarthy, 202-707-9533
Hazard Mitigation Grants
The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) provides grants to states to implement mitigation
measures after recovery from a disaster and to provide funding for previously identified
mitigation measures to benefit the area. There is a matching requirement of 25%. The Department
of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007 adjusts the percentage amounts for HMGP
awards by establishing a scale that authorizes a higher percentage for hazard mitigation grants
(15% of the total Stafford Act assistance in a state) for a major disaster in which no more than $2
billion is provided, to 10% for assistance that ranges from more than $2 billion to $10 billion, and
7.5% for a major disaster that involves Stafford Act assistance from more than $10 billion to
$35.3 billion.5
Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Authority: 42 U.S.C. § 5170c
Regulation: 44 C.F.R. §§ 206.430 to 440
Phone: Office of Congressional Affairs, 202-646-4500
Website: http://www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-grant-program-hmgp/what-hazard-mitigationgrant-
program
CFDA: 97.039
CRS Contact: Francis X. McCarthy 202-707-9533
5 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2007, P.L. 109-295, § 684, 120 Stat. 1355, 1447 (2006)
(amended § 404 of the Stafford Act).
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Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants
This program provides grants and technical assistance to states, territories, and local communities
for cost-effective hazard mitigation activities that complement a comprehensive hazard mitigation
program, and reduce injuries, loss of life, and damage and destruction of property. A minimum of
$575,000 or 1.0% of appropriated funds is provided to a state or local government, with
assistance capped at 15% of appropriated funds. Federal funds generally comprise 75% of the
cost of approved mitigation projects, except for small impoverished communities that may
receive up to 90% of the cost.
Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Authority: 42 U.S.C.§ 5133
Regulation: 44 C.F.R. § 201
Phone: Office of Congressional Affairs, 202-646-4500
Website: http://www.fema.gov/pre-disaster-mitigation-grant-program
CFDA: 97.047
CRS Contact: Francis X. McCarthy, 202-707-9533
Community Disaster Loans
This program provides loans to local governments that have suffered substantial loss of
tax and other revenue in areas included in a major disaster declaration. The funds can
only be used to maintain existing functions of a municipal operating character. The local
government must demonstrate a need for financial assistance. Typically, the loan may not
exceed 25% of the local government’s annual operating budget for the fiscal year of the
disaster. The limit is 50% if the local government lost 75% or more of its tax and other
revenue as the result of a major disaster. A loan may not exceed $5 million. There is no
matching requirement. The statute does not impose time limitations on the assistance, but
the normal term of a loan is five years. The statute provides that the repayment
requirement is cancelled if local government revenues are not sufficient to meet
operations expenses during three years after a disaster. The governor must request the
program specifically and funds must be appropriated into the CDL account by Congress.
CRS Report R42527, FEMA’s Community Disaster Loan Program: History, Analysis,
and Issues for Congress, by Jared T. Brown.
Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Authority: 42 U.S.C. § 5184
Regulation: 44 C.F.R. §§ 206.360 to 378
Phone: Office of Congressional Affairs, 202-646-4500
Website: http://www.fema.gov/community-disaster-loan-program
CFDA: 97.030
CRS Contact: Jared T. Brown, 202-707-4918
Reimbursement for Firefighting on Federal Property
This program directs payments to fire departments that fight fires on federal property. Applicants
may be reimbursed for direct expenses and direct losses (those not considered normal operating
expenses) incurred in firefighting. Cost share and time limitations are not imposed in the statute
or regulations.
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Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Authority: 15 U.S.C. § 2201 to 2234
Regulation: 44 C.F.R. §§ 151 to151.23
Phone: Office of Congressional Affairs, 202-646-4500
Website: http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/grants/rfff/
CFDA: 97.016
CRS Contact: Francis X. McCarthy, 202-707-9533
Fire Management Assistance Grant Program
This program provides grants to state and local governments to aid states and their communities
with the mitigation, management, and control of fires burning on publicly or privately owned
forests or grasslands. The federal government provides 75% of the costs associated with fire
management projects, but funding is limited to calculations of the “fire cost threshold” for each
state.6 No time limitation is applied to the program.
Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Authority: 42 U.S.C. § 5187
Regulation: 44 C.F.R. §§ 204.1 to 204.64
Phone: Office of Congressional Affairs, 202-646-4500
Website: http://www.fema.gov/fire-management-assistance-grants-program-details
CFDA: 97.046
CRS Contact: Francis X. McCarthy, 202-707-9533
Assistance for Small Businesses & Nonprofit Organizations
Economic Injury Disaster Loans
This program assists small businesses suffering economic injury as a result of disasters by
offering loans and loan guarantees. Businesses must be located in disaster areas declared by the
President, the Small Business Administration, or the Secretary of Agriculture. There is no
matching requirement in this program. The maximum loan amount is $2.0 million. Loans may be
up to 30 years. The application period is announced at the time of the disaster declaration. For
more information, see CRS Report RL33243, Small Business Administration: A Primer on
Programs, by Robert Jay Dilger and Sean Lowry.
Agency: Small Business Administration
Authority: 15 U.S.C. § 636(b)
Regulation: 13 C.F.R. §§ 123.300 to 303
Phone: Office of Congressional Affairs, 202-205-6700
Website: http://www.sba.gov/content/economic-injury-disaster-loans
CRS Contact: Bruce R. Lindsay, 202-707-3752
6 44 C.F.R. § 204.51.
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Physical Disaster Loans—Businesses
This program provides loans to small and large businesses in declared disaster areas for uninsured
physical damage and losses. The maximum loan amount is $2.0 million. Loans may be for up to
30 years. There is no matching requirement in this program. For more information, see CRS
Report RL33243, Small Business Administration: A Primer on Programs, by Robert Jay Dilger
and Sean Lowry.
Agency: Small Business Administration
Authority: 15 U.S.C. § 636(b)
Regulation: 13 C.F.R. §§ 123.200 to 204
Phone: Office of Congressional Affairs, 202-205-6700
Website:http://www.sba.gov/content/business-physical-disaster-loans/
CFDA: 59.008
CRS Contact: Bruce R. Lindsay, 202-707-3752
Emergency Loans for Farms
When a county has been declared a disaster area by either the President or the Secretary of
Agriculture, agricultural producers in that county may become eligible for low-interest
emergency disaster (EM) loans available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm
Service Agency. Producers in counties that are contiguous to a county with a disaster designation
also become eligible for an EM loan. EM loan funds may be used to help eligible farmers,
ranchers, and aquaculture producers recover from production losses (when the producer suffers a
significant loss of an annual crop) or from physical losses (such as repairing or replacing
damaged or destroyed structures or equipment, or for the replanting of permanent crops such as
orchards). A qualified applicant can then borrow up to 100% of actual production or physical
losses (not to exceed $500,000) at a below-market interest rate (which is currently 3.75%).
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency
Authority: 7 U.S.C. § 1961
Regulation: 7 C.F.R. §§ 1945.1 to1945.45
Phone: Legislative Liaison Staff, 202-720-3865
Website: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=fmlp&topic=efl
CFDA: 10.404 and others
CRS Contact: Dennis Shields, 202-707-9051
National Flood Insurance Program
Since 1968, the federal government has pursued a comprehensive flood risk management strategy
designed to (1) identify and map flood-prone communities across the country (flood hazard
mapping); (2) encourage property owners in NFIP participating communities to purchase
insurance as a protection against flood losses (flood insurance); and (3) require communities in
designated flood risk zones to adopt and enforce approved floodplain management ordinance to
reduce future flood risk to new construction in regulated floodplains (floodplain management).
The Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA), a part of the FEMA in the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS), manages the NFIP.
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Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4001 et seq.
Regulation: 44 CFR § 59.1 – § 82.21
Phone: Office of Congressional Affairs, 202-646-4500
Website: http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program
CFDA: 97.022
CRS Contact: Rawle O. King, 202-707-5975
General Assistance Programs
In addition to programs described above, which provide targeted assistance to individuals, states,
territories, local governments, and businesses specifically affected by disasters, other general
assistance programs may be useful to communities in disaster situations. For example, individuals
who lose income, employment, or health insurance may become eligible for programs that are not
specifically intended as disaster relief, such as cash assistance under the Temporary Assistance
for Needy Families (TANF) program, job training under the Workforce Investment Act,
Medicaid, or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). Likewise, state or local
officials have the discretion to use funds under programs such as the Social Services Block Grant
or Community Development Block Grant to meet disaster-related needs, even though these
programs were not established specifically for such purposes. Other agencies may offer assistance
to state and local governments, including the Economic Development Administration and the
Army Corps of Engineers. For businesses, however, only the disaster programs administered by
the Small Business Administration are generally applicable.
There are numerous federal programs that potentially offer disaster relief. However, specific
eligibility criteria or other program rules might make it less likely that they would actually be
used. Moreover, available funds might already be obligated for ongoing program activities. To
the extent that federal agencies have discretion in the administration of programs, some agencies
may choose to adapt these non-targeted programs for use in disaster situations. Also, Congress
may choose to provide additional funds through emergency supplemental appropriations for
certain general assistance programs, specifically for use after a disaster.
CRS analysts and program specialists can help provide information regarding general assistance
programs that might be relevant to a given disaster situation. CRS appropriations reports may
have information on disaster assistance within particular federal agencies.7 These reports also
contain a list of key policy staff at CRS, and identify the staff by their program area and agency
expertise.
7See CRS website at http://www.crs.gov/Pages/clis.aspx?cliid=73&preview=False for CRS appropriations reports.
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Other Sources of Information
Selected CRS Reports
Disaster Assistance
CRS Report R41981, Congressional Primer on Major Disasters and Emergencies, by Francis X.
McCarthy and Jared T. Brown.
CRS Report RL33053, Federal Stafford Act Disaster Assistance: Presidential Declarations,
Eligible Activities, and Funding, by Francis X. McCarthy.
CRS Report RS22266, The Use of Federal Troops for Disaster Assistance: Legal Issues, by
Jennifer K. Elsea and R. Chuck Mason.
CRS Report RL33330, Community Development Block Grant Funds in Disaster Relief and
Recovery, by Eugene Boyd.
CRS Report RL34585, The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC): An Overview,
by Bruce R. Lindsay.
CRS Report RL33579, The Public Health and Medical Response to Disasters: Federal Authority
and Funding, by Sarah A. Lister.
CRS Report RL34131, Flood Damage Related to Army Corps of Engineers Projects: Selected
Legal Issues, by Cynthia Brougher.
CRS Report RS22254, The Americans with Disabilities Act and Emergency Preparedness and
Response, by Emily C. Barbour.
CRS Report R40650, National Flood Insurance Program: Background, Challenges, and
Financial Status, by Rawle O. King.
CRS Report R41884, Considerations for a Catastrophic Declaration: Issues and Analysis, by
Bruce R. Lindsay and Francis X. McCarthy.
CRS Report R42527, FEMA’s Community Disaster Loan Program: History, Analysis, and Issues
for Congress, by Jared T. Brown.
CRS Report RL33642, Permanent Tax Relief Provisions for Disaster Victims as Presented in the
Internal Revenue Code, by Jennifer Teefy.
CRS Report RL34146, FEMA’s Disaster Declaration Process: A Primer, by Francis X.
McCarthy.
Disaster Assistance to Individuals, Families, and Businesses
CRS Report RS22022, Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), by Julie M. Whittaker.
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CRS Report RL33642, Permanent Tax Relief Provisions for Disaster Victims as Presented in the
Internal Revenue Code, by Jennifer Teefy.
CRS Report RL33243, Small Business Administration: A Primer on Programs, by Robert Jay
Dilger and Sean Lowry.
CRS Report RS21212, Agricultural Disaster Assistance, by Dennis A. Shields.
CRS Report RS22945, Flood Insurance Requirements for Stafford Act Assistance, by Edward C.
Liu.
Federal Agency Websites
Note: Because of limited information available on the Internet, congressional users of this report
are encouraged to contact the appropriate CRS program analysts or department or agency
program officers for more complete, timely information.
http://www.USA.gov/
Many federal agencies have established websites specifically to respond to disasters. Some
agencies maintain websites with comprehensive information about their disaster assistance
programs, whereas other agencies supply only limited information; most list contact phone
numbers. An A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies is available at the website
above.
FEMA Website
http://www.fema.gov
From its website, FEMA offers regular updates on recovery efforts in areas under a major disaster
declaration. Information on a specific disaster may include a listing of declared counties and
contact information for local residents.
Disaster Assistance.gov
http://www.disasterassistance.gov/
This website provides information on how to obtain help from the U.S. government before,
during, and after a disaster. DisasterAssistance.gov also provides news, information, and
resources to prepare for a disaster, to use during an emergency, and to recover afterward.
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
http://www.cfda.gov
The CFDA describes more than 2,200 federal assistance programs. CFDA program numbers are
given in each program summary included in this report. For current appropriations and additional
information users should contact departments and agencies.
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