This month, President Trump authorized FEMA to use up to $44 billion in Disaster Relief Funding to provide supplemental lost wages payments. This initiative will help ease the financial burden on those who are unemployed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Lost wages assistance will increase the amount of money states can provide to unemployed Americans without significantly increasing the cost for states to offer unemployment insurance. FEMA will provide funding to states and territories that request and apply for assistance.
This program will be applied retroactively to the week ending Aug. 1 and continues through no later than Dec. 27, or until the balance of the Disaster Relief Fund reaches $25 billion, or Congress enacts a replacement unemployment relief program.
Individuals who currently receive at least $100 per week of unemployment compensation benefits and provide self-certification that they are unemployed, or are unable or unavailable to work due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 are eligible for the supplement through their state or territory unemployment office.
The new funding for lost wages is in addition to the $8.8 billion FEMA has already obligated in support of COVID-19 efforts. Seven states have been approved for funds so far. Additional information is available at FEMA.gov.
On Aug. 10, FEMA published a Temporary Final Rule in the Federal Register that allocated certain health and medical resources for domestic use. This rule helps to make sure needs are met for frontline healthcare workers and the American public during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The rule is an extension and modification of the original rule published on April 10, which outlined the President’s Memorandum, “Allocating Certain Scarce or Threatened Health and Medical Resources to Domestic Use.”
The extension allows this rule to remain in effect, with certain modifications, through Dec. 31. Modifications were made to the types of exports of personal protective equipment (PPE) that FEMA will review and may hold for domestic use to reflect changing circumstances. For example, shipments of certain classes of surgical gowns are now covered under the updated rule and may not leave the United States without explicit approval by FEMA.
The PPE covered in this allocation includes:
- Surgical N-95 respirators
- Surgical masks
- Nitrile surgical and exam gloves
- Level 3 and 4 Surgical Gowns and Surgical Isolation Gowns
Review the rule for detailed descriptions of covered PPE or view the FEMA Fact Sheet. Questions about a specific shipment should be directed to Custom and Border Protection. Questions about the allocation order and Notification of Exemptions in the Federal Register may be directed to FEMA National Business Emergency Operations Center.
FEMA announced $10 million in competitive awards for its 2020 Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program to 12 state and local governments. The awards assist in developing innovative regional solutions to issues related to catastrophic incidents, including pandemic preparedness.
The grant program supports the building of core capabilities, which address the nation’s greatest risks and are essential to achieve the National Preparedness Goal of a secure and resilient nation. The 2020 grants focus on planning, organization, training and exercises to build regional capabilities in FEMA’s Health and Medical and Food, Water and Sheltering Community Lifelines.
This year’s award recipients are:
- King County, Washington, $929,413
- East-West Gateway Council of Governments of St. Louis, Missouri, $929,414
- City of New York, New York, $929,414
- State of Oklahoma, $929,414
- City of Houston, Texas, $735,594
- City of Baltimore, Maryland, $843,988
- City of San Francisco, California, $929,414
- State of New Jersey, $381,060
- City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, $929,414
- City of San Antonio, Texas, $697,060
- State of New York, $929,414
- City of Virginia Beach, Virginia, $836,403
Additional program information is available on the FEMA website. For questions, send an email to FEMA-RCPGP@fema.dhs.gov.
FEMA seeks public feedback on nine National Qualification System (NQS) documents that enhance interoperability and the effectiveness of mutual aid. The documents define minimum qualifications criteria for personnel serving in these Search and Rescue (SAR) positions:
- Swiftwater Flood SAR Team, Swiftwater Flood SAR Team Leader, Swiftwater Flood SAR Technician – Boat Operator, Swiftwater Flood SAR Technician – Boat Bowmen, Swiftwater Flood SAR Technician; and
- Stillwater Flood SAR Team, Stillwater Flood SAR Team Leader, Boat Operator, and Stillwater Flood SAR Technician.
The positions enable the nation-wide sharing of deployable Search and Rescue positions at all jurisdictional levels through NQS and bolster the FEMA workforce during disaster operations.
This national engagement period ends at 5 p.m. ET on Sept. 17. This provides interested parties an opportunity to comment on the documents to ensure they are relevant for all implementing partners. To review the draft documents, visit the FEMA website.
FEMA Offers Webinars for Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants
FEMA is offering informational webinars for Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant applicants. The webinars will provide an overview of the grant programs and details about the agency’s funding priorities and review process.
Any state, tribal or territorial prospective applicant can attend. The presentation materials as well as the time and call-in information is the same for each session. Each webinar will be at 2 p.m. ET on Aug. 18, Aug. 20 and Aug. 25. A webinar for tribal applicants will be held at 2 p.m. ET on Aug. 27. Additionally, at 2 p.m. on Sept. 1 and Sept. 2, FEMA will host the webinar “Avoiding Application Pitfalls.”
Each webinar topic will be recorded and available online at a future time. For additional updates or more information, visit FEMA.gov.
FEMA Hosts Webinar Series on Effective Accessible Communications
FEMA will host a two-part webinar series on accessible communications and how to effectively create them throughout the disaster cycle. Part one will provide an overview on various effective and accessible methods of communications throughout the disaster cycle, which includes insight on basic writing principles and how to write in plain language. Part two will provide useful resources for print, TV and radio communication strategies, as well as offer specific tools to help you write for your audience.
Throughout the series, subject matter experts will explore solutions to accessibility challenges that virtual platforms can present. Subject matter experts from FEMA and the community will offer invaluable insights and information to assist participants in building a more inclusive environment in the field of emergency management.
FEMA Conducts National Exercise Program Webinar
On Oct. 1, the National Exercise Program (NEP) will accept nominations from state, local, tribal, territorial and other whole community partners. The program offers no-cost assistance for exercise design, development, execution and evaluation to validate capabilities across all mission areas.
FEMA is hosting a 60-minute webinar at 2 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 24 to discuss the nomination process, the support that NEP can provide for conducting exercises in a COVID-19 environment and provide a preview of the proposed 2021-2022 Principals’ Strategic Priorities.
For questions, send an email to the NEP.
FEMA Announces Public Comment Period for Debris Monitoring Guide
FEMA is releasing an interim “Debris Monitoring Guide.” The guidance is now open for public comment. It includes several changes that incorporate updated requirements to comply with the “Procurement Disaster Assistance Team 2019 Field Manual.”
The interim guide and accompanying comments matrix are available on the FEMA website. FEMA will accept public comments submitted until Sept. 17. FEMA requests that all comments be submitted using the accompanying comments matrix. For questions or suggestions about the guide, send an email to FEMA-Recovery-Pa-Policy@fema.dhs.gov.