FEMA published a bulletin outlining best practices to assist partners in anticipating and attending to civil rights concerns during the COVID-19 response and recovery.
FEMA is working with state, local, tribal and territorial partners to ensure that distribution of supplies and other relief efforts are done in an impartial manner, without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. Under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Act, civil rights laws are protected during emergencies and cannot be waived.
The bulletin covers the following topics:
- Effective communication access
- Inclusive planning, response and recovery
- Language access
- Physical Accessibility
For more information on guidelines for ensuring civil rights during COVID-19 response, review the document on the FEMA website. Members of the public may bring civil rights complaints in connection with FEMA activities or FEMA-funded programs and activities by contacting the FEMA Office of Equal Rights.
FEMA awarded $200 million in supplemental funding to the National Board for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP). These funds were appropriated in the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act for local social service organizations providing emergency assistance to people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, hunger or homelessness.
These funds address a broad range of services, including mass shelter, mass feeding, food pantries and food banks, utility bill and rent/mortgage payments to prevent evictions or foreclosures and transition assistance from shelters to stable living conditions.
The EFSP National Board will develop a formula using the most current national population, unemployment, and poverty statistics to qualify jurisdictions (counties or cities) for funding allocations across the country. The formula for allocating these funds to local communities is designed to target areas of highest need. Once jurisdictions are selected, local organizations—governmental and non-governmental agencies, voluntary, community and faith-based organizations—may apply for grants. Local boards will review applications and make award determinations. The local boards will then notify the National Board of the organizations selected for funding and how the funds will provide services in their communities. The EFSP National Board will disburse the awarded funds directly to the local organizations.
The $200 million supplemental funding is separate from the fiscal year 2019 annual appropriation of $120 million to the program. Money from both the supplemental and 2019 annual funding is expected to be disbursed to local agencies in June.
FEMA has created a Best Practices page that compiles the most up-to-date, vital information in one central location for medical practitioners, emergency managers and other critical stakeholders. The U.S. Department of Health and Human is working with FEMA to collect and share best practices and lessons learned from the whole-of-America response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The information can help users learn from each other’s approaches and apply solutions to current response and recovery operations.
These best practices share the learning and experiences of successful interventions and the experiences of other communities that have already faced COVID-19 challenges. FEMA will continue to add content and highlight innovative approaches that have produced positive results as communities respond to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.
Best practices are organized around five themes:
- Helping People, which includes best practices on topics such as crisis counseling resources and anticipating and attending to civil rights;
- Government Operations best practices, such as public information and continuity of operations considerations;
- Private Sector and Infrastructure, which includes best practices for commercial trucking and food stores;
- Recovery Planning and Implementation, to include the newly released FEMA Disaster Financial Management Guide and economic recovery considerations; and
- Medical Supplies and Equipment, including best practices for the preservation of personal protective equipment while ensuring workers are protected.
State, local, tribal and territorial governments, non-governmental organizations and businesses involved in the COVID-19 response can send their best practices or lessons learned to FEMA Continuous Improvement Program. Submissions are reviewed by subject-matter experts at FEMA and HHS before posting.
FEMA released a new interactive dashboard of funding data available for the Public Assistance program. This new dynamic visualization dashboard is now available to the public on the FEMA website.
This data visualization will allow state, tribal, territorial and local government partners and the general public to access information quickly and easily and understand how FEMA has distributed $85 billion of PA Program assistance over the past 17 years. This dashboard gives users the option to customize and filter program data from 2003 to the present through several dynamic charts.
The primary visualization is a map of the United States that displays the total dollar amount obligated by state and offers views by declaration and applicant counts. The map is filterable by state, as well as by category and incident type. There is a ‘Biological’ incident filter, which has only been utilized for COVID-19 declarations. Two date filters — declaration date and obligated date — allow users to narrow the timeframe of their results. Once users have chosen the proper filters to focus on the information for which they are looking, they can also download the raw data for further analysis.
The Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate released the 2019 Annual Report and Executive Summary which increases transparency and supports the ongoing improvements to the National Flood Insurance Program.
In 2019, five primary policyholder and property owner concerns or frustrations have been identified and include recommendations to address and resolve the matter. These include:
- Improper application of an elevation rating using an elevation certificate
- Loss of flood insurance policy rating discounts following a lapse in coverage
- Confusion regarding the Group Flood Insurance Program
- When a policyholder has received a “Letter of Map Amendment, Out as Shown,” limited refunds has been issued
- When a permit is issued before a substantial damage letter is received by the policyholder, this causes a denial of Increased Cost of Compliance funds
The Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate promotes the fair treatment of policyholders and property owners by providing education and guidance on all aspects of the program. The Advocate’s Office identifies trends affecting the public makes recommendations for program improvements. For more information about the Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate, visit the FEMA website.
The Notice of Funding Opportunity is now available for $35 million in Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) grants. The FP&S grant supports projects that enhance the safety of the public and firefighters from fire and related hazards within the areas of fire prevention and firefighter safety research and development. The application period opens Monday, April 27 and closes at 5 p.m. ET on Friday, May 29.
The FP&S Notice of Funding Opportunity is available for download on grants.gov and the FEMA website. Fire departments and other applicants requiring assistance should email the AFG Help Desk or call the help desk at 1-866-274-0960 during business hours, Monday through Friday.
FEMA created this 36-minute video tutorial to help FEMA grant recipients and subrecipients understand how to properly contract during emergency or exigent circumstances.
Viewers will quickly learn about:
- Applicable federal procurement rules based on their entity type
- Requirements when sole sourcing
- Proper use of pre-existing contracts
Additional resources when procuring with federal grant funds and COVID-19 guidance are available on the FEMA website.
Emergency officials across the country have sent nearly 250 important safety messages on the coronavirus pandemic to their residents using FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
As of early Tuesday April 21, 82 agencies across 27 states and the District of Columbia, as well as one Indian tribe and one U.S. territory, have sent a total of 241 messages. This includes 193 text alerts containing information on COVID-19 to cell phones and other wireless devices via the Wireless Emergency Alerts and 46 alerts to radios/televisions via the Emergency Alert System.
For more information on IPAWS and how to be able to use the system to send alerts, visit the FEMA website.
IPAWS is a national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency alert and information messaging to the public through cell phones and internet applications using Wireless Emergency Alerts, and to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System.
Application Period is now Open for CTP Grants
The application period is now open for the Cooperating Technical Partners Program. These grants support the mission and objectives of the National Flood Insurance Program through FEMA’s flood hazard identification and risk assessment programs. Cooperative Technical Partners supports FEMA to develop flood hazard data and maps for communities that have never had identified risks. Apply on Grants.gov by May 1. For questions, contact the Cooperative Technical Partner program.
Application Period is now Open for SAFER Grants
The application period is now open for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants. The SAFER grant enhances the ability of recipients to attain and maintain fire department staffing and to ensure that their communities have adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. The application period will close at 5 p.m. ET on May 15.
Public Comment Period Open for Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Proposed Policy
A proposed policy is now available for comments for the new Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program. Stakeholders may view the policy and provide new comments until May 11. To locate the new policy, visit regulations.gov and search the identification number FEMA-2019-0018. To learn more, visit the FEMA website.
FEMA Extends Preparedness Grants Application Deadline
In response to COVID-19, FEMA will extend the deadline to submit applications for the following five preparedness grant programs:
Applications must be received by the new submission deadline of 5 p.m. ET on April 30. Further information on DHS preparedness grant programs is available on the FEMA website.