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Disasters affect hundreds of American communities each year and cause billions of dollars in damage. While federal recovery assistance is available, many disaster survivors face barriers in accessing this assistance.
Para la versión de esta página en español, ver a GAO-21-442.
As of January 2021, FEMA has obligated $23.8 billion through Public Assistance funds to help Puerto Rico recover from the 2017 hurricanes, 2019 and 2020 earthquakes, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
To see the version of this page in English, see GAO-21-264.
A partir de enero de 2021, FEMA comprometió $23.8 mil millones en fondos de Asistencia Pública para ayudar a Puerto Rico a recuperarse de los huracanes del 2017, los terremotos de 2019 y 2020, y la pandemia del COVID-19.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and Hawaii experienced an unprecedented number of natural disasters in 2018—including typhoons, earthquakes, mudslides, and volcanic eruptions. Their distance from the continental U.S. creates unique challenges for emergency responders.
FEMA obligated more than $11 billion through 4 grant programs that fund state and local hazard mitigation efforts (e.g., elevating homes and building tornado-safe rooms) for FY 2010 to 2018. The agency awarded about 88% of this amount through 2 grant programs that award grants post-disaster.
In 2017, hurricanes knocked out Puerto Rico's electricity grid and caused an 11-month blackout—the longest in U.S. history. Efforts are underway to rebuild a more resilient grid.
FEMA has worked with Puerto Rico to assess grid damage, estimate costs, and more.
The hurricanes and fires of 2017 and 2018 affected more than 47 million people in the U.S. From 2016-18, survivors received about $6 billion and 12,805 temporary housing units from FEMA's Individuals and Households Program. Most applicants were uninsured, and a majority had incomes under $50,000.
Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, and Irma—4 of the costliest hurricanes in the U.S. since 2005—caused damage totaling trillions of dollars. Their effects on economic activity and employment in damaged areas varied widely.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in over 100,000 reported deaths in the U.S., widespread unemployment, and an overall economic downturn. For the first time in history, major disaster declarations were issued simultaneously for all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.
The National Flood Insurance Program can be most effective when participating communities take steps to reduce the risk of flood damage. To do so, communities must adopt the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) floodplain management requirements.