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H.R. 4358: Preliminary Damage Assessment Improvement Act of 2019


The text of the bill below is as of Sep 17, 2019 (Introduced).


I

116th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 4358

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 17, 2019

(for himself and Mr. Cunningham) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

A BILL

To direct the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to submit to Congress a report on preliminary damage assessment and to establish damage assessment teams in the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Preliminary Damage Assessment Improvement Act of 2019.

2.

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)

Preliminary damage assessments play a critical role in assessing and validating the impact and magnitude of a disaster.

(2)

Through the preliminary damage assessment process, representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency work with State and local officials to gather information that serves as the basis for disaster assistance requests.

(3)

Various factors can impact the duration of a preliminary damage assessment and the corresponding submission of a major disaster request, however, the average time between when a disaster occurs, and the submission of a corresponding disaster request has been found to be approximately twenty days longer for flooding disasters.

(4)

With communities across the country facing increased instances of catastrophic flooding and other extreme weather events, accurate and efficient preliminary damage assessments have become critically important to the relief process for impacted states and municipalities.

3.

Report to Congress

(a)

In general

Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency shall submit to Congress a report describing the preliminary damage assessment process, as carried out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the 5 years before the date of enactment of this Act.

(b)

Contents

The report described in subsection (a) shall contain the following:

(1)

The process of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for deploying disaster assessment teams to conduct preliminary damage assessments.

(2)

The number of Agency staff participating on disaster assessment teams.

(3)

The training and experience of such staff described in paragraph (2).

(4)

A calculation of the average amount of time disaster assessment teams described in paragraph (1) are deployed to a disaster area.

(5)

The efforts of the Agency to maintain a consistent liaison between the Agency and communities within a disaster area.

4.

Preliminary damage assessment

(a)

In general

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency shall establish damage assessment teams under section 206.33(b) of title 44, Code of Federal Regulations, within the Federal Emergency Management Agency to conduct preliminary damage assessments with State and local governments and appropriate relief or disaster assistance organizations.

(b)

Damage assessment teams

Damage assessment teams described under subsection (a) shall consist of full-time employees of the Agency with expertise in working with State and local governments and appropriate relief or disaster assistance organizations.

(c)

Report to Congress

Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit to Congress a report—

(1)

describing the establishment of disaster assessment teams described under subsection (a);

(2)

assessing whether the duration of the deployment of a disaster assessment team to conduct a preliminary damage assessment is longer based on specific disaster conditions;

(3)

assessing the practicality of forming specific disaster assessment teams for each specific disaster condition; and

(4)

legislative recommendations to improve the operation, deployment, and staffing of disaster assessment teams.

(d)

Definition of State and local government

For purposes of this Act, the terms State and local government have the meanings given such terms in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122).