Following the Flood of 2019, a lot of folks had trouble getting the help they needed in Northwest Missouri.
In one case, FEMA awarded individual assistance money to help a man fix his family home that had been destroyed.
He followed all the rules. He was honest, open, and transparent with FEMA. They determined that he was eligible and approved his request for assistance. That didn’t stop the agency from coming back and demanding that he pay that $12,000 back when they figured out that they had screwed up.
It wasn’t because he committed fraud. It was because FEMA made a “mistake.” They told him he didn’t REALLY qualify for that help.
Unfortunately, his story is all too common with FEMA. They do this all the time. They give honest, innocent disaster victims assistance, only to demand the money back, weeks, months, or even years later.
That’s wrong. Not only does this make it difficult for these disaster victims to rebuild their lives, but it also scares others out of spending the FEMA money they get to fix their homes. After all, are you going to spend $12,000 in disaster assistance to fix your house if you’re scared FEMA is going to knock on your door one day and demand you pay every penny back?
These mistakes and clawbacks hamstring FEMA’s ability to accomplish their sole mission—to help folks before, during, and after disasters. That’s the only reason FEMA even exists. They literally have one job.
My bill, the Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act, puts a stop to this nonsense. It requires FEMA to forgive these debts when there’s no fraud committed. It goes further than that though. It holds FEMA accountable for these mistakes and requires the agency to take steps to prevent future errors.
The House passed the Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act this week. Now, my bill heads over to the Senate, where a similar bill has been introduced. Hopefully, we can get this common-sense legislation across the finish line and return FEMA to their original mission—helping disaster victims, not attacking them.