January 18, 2022

Neguse, Blumenauer Unveil RESILIENCE Act to Improve FEMA Disaster Recovery Process In the Wake of the Marshall Fire

Washington, D.C.—As communities in Louisville, Superior and Boulder County continue to rebuild and seek FEMA disaster assistance support following the destructive Marshall Fire, Representatives Joe Neguse (D-CO) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) are unveiling new legislation to strengthen FEMA’s pre and post-disaster mitigation efforts and improve codes and standards to make American communities more prepared for worsening natural disasters.  The RESILIENCE Act, will expand activities reimbursed under FEMA’s post-disaster mitigation programs and equip communities with better codes and standards, more effective cost-share arrangements and increase technical assistance throughout the recovery process. 

“As our communities in Boulder County begin the recovery and rebuilding process in the wake of the devastating Marshall Fire, we are doing everything we can to improve and expand the federal disaster assistance process so every family and business owner can get the support they need,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “As we endure the tangible impacts of these increasingly worse environmental disasters, it’s critical that our federal efforts for recovery offer comprehensive support to stopping disasters before they start, fighting them if they occur, and providing every tool to local communities to rebuild. The RESILIENCE Act will help ensure that support, prioritizing the changing needs of our communities as we ready for future climate-related weather events. We will continue to work to advocate for our communities as they recover and as we all work to prioritize climate resiliency.”

“Oregonians know all too well that climate disasters like floods, heat waves, and wildfires are an unfortunate part of our reality, but that common sense changes can help us create safer communities for all,” said Blumenauer. “I’m deeply concerned that FEMA is far too reactive, rather than proactive, and that vulnerable groups and neighborhoods who are already disproportionately impacted by climate change aren’t receiving the support they need before and after disaster strikes.  FEMA can and must do better to meaningfully and equitably deal with climate disasters, and my Climate RESILIENCE Act is a step in the right direction.”

In the last two years, Colorado experienced intense and record-breaking wildfire seasons. The recent Marshall Fire left over 1,000 homes in Boulder County destroyed or damaged - the most destructive fire in Colorado history. Additionally, communities in the Second District are also rebuilding from unprecedented damage caused by the historic 2020 wildfires, including the Cameron Peak, East Troublesome, Calwood, and Lefthand Canyon fires. Local emergency management officials have stressed the need for increased flexibility from FEMA to allow for building back better in the wake of these natural disasters. 

Neguse’s bill, the RESILIENCE Act would improve wildfire preparedness and climate resiliency by:

  • Improving FEMA's disaster definition to include extreme temperature events, like heat waves and freezes;
  • Improving FEMA's definitions and cost share eligibility requirements for disadvantaged communities and underserved communities;
  • Enhancing the hazard mitigation planning process to better integrate states’, tribes’, and territories’ hazard mitigation planning into other mitigation planning processes, also includes a focus on resiliency planning and investments;
  • Providing both financial and non-financial technical assistance for hazard mitigation planning, as well as for grant applications for small impoverished and disadvantaged communities;
  • Expanding the list of eligible activities funded under FEMA's pre-disaster and post-disaster mitigation programs, including improving hazard resistance of structures, enhancing natural infrastructure, and working with community organizations to improve planning; and
  • Expanding Pre-Disaster Mitigation Assistance funding to address FEMA’s oversubscription issues.

The full text of the bill is available HERE.

BACKGROUND:

Congressman Neguse has made climate resiliency and wildfire mitigation a top priority during his time in Congress. Neguse last year launched the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus to highlight the need for science-based forest management and wildfire mitigation investments. He introduced the Wildfire Recovery Act to help secure resources for Colorado communities as they recover from a destructive wildfire season and the 21st Century Conservation Corps Act to make historic investments in wildfire resiliency and forest restoration. In September, Neguse introduced the Tim Hart Wildland Classification and Pay Parity Act to raise pay for wildland firefighters, provide essential benefits and address classification. Congressman Neguse recently secured over $5 billion for wildfire prevention and recovery in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, enacted into law in November, and has secured over $27 billion more in federal funding to restore our forests in the House-passed Build Back Better Act.