Rural Disaster Assistance

RCED-93-170R: Published: Jun 14, 1993. Publicly Released: Jun 14, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) whether there are differences in the way federal disaster assistance is provided to rural and urban areas; (2) whether the needs of a rural area with a low population density differ from those of an urban area; and (3) the role of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in fighting forest fires. GAO noted that: (1) the disaster assistance provided in rural areas is not different from the assistance provided in urban areas; (2) federal assistance is available when state and local resources are insufficient; (3) disaster response in rural areas places a greater burden on state and local emergency management personnel, since they have to cover large geographic areas with fewer personnel and resources; (4) FEMA believes that threats and needs are more concentrated in urban areas; and (5) FEMA generally has little involvement in forest fires on federal lands unless there is a presidential declaration of disaster.

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