During a Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the FEMA FY2020 budget request, Senator Lisa Murkowski questioned FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor on disaster assistance in Alaska. Credit: Office of Senator Murkowski
Washington, D.C. – The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security today held a hearing to review FEMA’s FY2020 Budget Request. During the hearing, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) raised Alaska specific concerns to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Acting Administrator Peter Gaynor.
In light of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Alaska on November 30, 2018, Senator Murkowski highlighted real-life examples of difficulties that Alaskans are facing as they seek assistance from FEMA.
Senator Murkowski also highlighted potential flaws within FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program process and questioned Peter Gaynor on how to ensure disaster victims can be confident in FEMA’s disaster recovery efforts.
“Part of the problem is that it seems this individual assistance program has kind of a black box reputation. Nobody really knows what is eligible for a home repair award. No one knows if inspectors are consistent. The specific criteria that inspectors use isn’t readily available. Appeal decisions aren’t published,” said Senator Murkowski. “You indicate in your testimony, which I appreciate, that you’re seeking to reduce the complexity of FEMA to promote simpler less complex processes to streamline it. And that’s good, but how do we let folks know that disaster victims can have confidence in this program that is being administered and is it being administered as we intended it to?”
In response, Gaynor acknowledged the issues outlined by Senator Murkowski and agreed that the process at times can be complex. Gaynor stated that he was committed to making adjustments to the program to try to deliver maximum disaster relief and assistance to Alaskans in need.