This past Tuesday, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on the agency’s response to severe weather events, including Hurricane Ida, and on ongoing efforts to confront future threats. She emphasized the impacts of climate change noting it makes “natural disasters more frequent, more intense, and more destructive.” Reflecting on Hurricane Ida, Criswell highlighted a number of important considerations for policymakers and others in the emergency management community.
For one, Criswell said Ida was notable because of its power and endurance. Storms typically dissipate when they hit land, but Ida stayed a Category 4 storm for four hours and continued to bring strong winds and torrential rainfall as it transitioned to a post-tropical cyclone and moved north across the country. Additionally, state officials typically could count on several days to implement response plans for an approaching storm. But this wasn’t the case for Ida and other recent hurricanes, with Criswell noting the “timeframe is continuing to get shorter and shorter as these storms intensify more quickly.”
Additionally, Criswell discussed opportunities for expanding access to grant programs to get communities the resources they need for mitigation investments and resilient infrastructure. The three grants she cited include: the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), and the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA). Criswell said she understands many communities don’t have the resources to hire a specialist to help write competitive grant applications and cited an increase in directed technical assistance through the agency. Access the full testimony here or read a relevant news article.