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FEMA officials say disaster recovery duties in Kentucky will continue as normal during potential government shutdown

Flooding in eastern Kentucky
Jeanne Marie Hibberd
Flooding in eastern Kentucky

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency say regional flood recovery duties would continue if a potential government shutdown happens. That includes disaster recovery and mitigation efforts.

“The hazard mitigation process won't be affected in the sense that the people we have here will keep working normally, because our pay is from (FEMA’s) Disaster Relief Fund,” Hazard Mitigation Branch Director Victor Carrión said during a conference Thursday morning.

Obligations for projects, like the agency’s buyouts of victims’ flooded properties, will be delayed during the potential shutdown, but the processes in place to apply for a buyout would still be available.

“The communication with the applicant will continue with the Commonwealth, with the communities, with the region,” Carrion said. “Everything will keep on as normal, the only thing will be the final obligation of the buyer that is going to be put on hold until the budget is approved.”

This comes as National Preparedness Month comes to a close this week. FEMA recently released a new disaster guidebook for older adults, who are among the most vulnerable groups during a crisis.

Updated on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023 at 5:29 p.m.

A release sent to WEKU from FEMA further clarified it will be focusing operations on survivors’ immediate needs and pause long-term recovery efforts, including payments for public assistance and hazard mitigation projects.

“Since the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) has reached a minimal threshold balance, FEMA implemented Immediate Needs Funding (INF) guidance on August 29 to prioritize available funding to ongoing disaster operations and preserve funding for initial response and recovery activities for any new incident,” the organization said in the release. “Under INF, new obligations for non-lifesaving and life-sustaining activities will be paused until the DRF is sufficiently funded. This will allow FEMA to continue its focus on response and urgent recovery efforts without interruption.”

Efforts to continue under Immediate Needs Funding include:

  • Individual Assistance,
  • Public Assistance for states, tribes and territories essential for lifesaving and life-sustaining activities,
  • Currently needed state management costs,
  • Mission assignments of Federal partners for critical response activities,
  • Fire Management Assistance grants, and
  • Essential ongoing disaster operations, including salaries of FEMA field staff (Stafford Act employees). 
Shepherd joined WEKU in June 2023 as a staff reporter. He most recently worked for West Virginia Public Broadcasting as General Assignment Reporter. In that role, he collected interviews and captured photos in the northern region of West Virginia. Shepherd holds a master’s degree in Digital Marketing Communication and a bachelor’s in music from West Virginia University.
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