FEMA

CHARLES TRAINOR JR. / Miami Herald

After months of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic across the nation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency says it has never been more ready for hurricane season.

“Ninety days of COVID-19 response makes us more ready than ever before,” FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said Monday at a press conference at the Miami-Dade County Emergency Operations Center in Doral.

Weather experts are predicting another above-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2020, which started June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

Unprecedented job losses and furloughs have pushed millions of Americans to the brink of eviction during the coronavirus pandemic, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the White House have failed to fund a legal assistance program that is routinely available to disaster survivors.

Leading the Federal Emergency Management Agency during the coronavirus pandemic may be one of the most thankless jobs in government right now. Governors are clamoring for more supplies, like ventilators and face masks. The president engages in public feuds with those governors.

President Trump announced Wednesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency "now is fully engaged at the highest levels" in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Trump says the agency is activated at level 1.

FEMA is best known for coordinating responses with state and local governments to natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Responding to a pandemic is a different job for the agency.

"This is a very different kind of work for FEMA," Trump said, "but they will come through as they always do. We have tremendous people, tremendous talent in FEMA."

Joe Raedle / GETTY IMAGES

Tens of thousands of homeowners may now have to start paying hundreds of dollars or more each year in flood insurance, thanks to an update in maps that reveal which homes face a flood risk.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is updating its flood maps for all of Broward, and the number of properties in the county being redrawn into flood zones is significant. “We’re talking 60,000 to 70,000 properties,” says Carlos Adorisio, engineering unit supervisor at Broward’s Environmental Engineering and Permitting Division, and the county’s flood plain manager.

FEMA.gov

South Florida is getting new flood risk maps that are redrawing the lines for what property is in high-risk areas.

The maps, set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are used for city and county planning, determining which areas need flood insurance, and generally managing areas susceptible to flooding.

FEMA officials say the new maps are needed. Some of the data used to draw the ones currently in use across South Florida are 40 years old.

2 More Puerto Rico Officials Fired After Warehouse Break-In

Jan 20, 2020
CARLOS GIUSTI / AP

Gov. Wanda Vázquez fired the heads of Puerto Rico’s housing and family departments Sunday in the latest fallout over the discovery of a warehouse filled with emergency supplies dating from Hurricane Maria.

The removal of Housing Secretary Fernando Gil and Department of Family Secretary Glorimar Andújar came a day after the governor fired the director of Puerto Rico’s emergency management agency. Vázquez fired him hours after a Facebook video showed angry people breaking into the warehouse in an area where thousands have been in shelters since a recent earthquake.

Updated at 5:27 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is releasing its hold on billions of dollars of aid to Puerto Rico after a months-long delay. But it is still unclear exactly when those funds will reach the hurricane-ravaged island.

The tranche of money, more than $8 billion, is allocated through a Department of Housing and Urban Development disaster recovery fund. It was supposed to be released months ago to help the island rebuild in the wake of devastating Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is calling the 2020 legislative session the ‘Year of the Teacher,’ and recently rolled out his budget asks for K-12 education.

Miami Herald archives

Floridians have another year of reprieve before they face a likely hike in their flood insurance premiums, thanks to political pressure from Congress over a potentially drastic revamp to the National Flood Insurance Program.

The planned change to the way the NFIP charges policyholders is meant to claw the program out of its multibillion-dollar debts and help the nation adapt to the growing risk of climate change — in exchange for an end to the subsidies coastal residents have relied on for decades.

BAYVIEW HOMES

The last time the Florida building code changed, it required any new construction along the coast to elevate buildings a whole foot. Just three years later, that doesn’t look like enough. There’s a call to go up yet another foot.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

The Trump administration's decision to shift more than $100 million of federal disaster aid to help pay for more detention beds for migrants has set off an outcry just as Florida is bracing for Hurricane Dorian.

AP

Floridians are bracing for a major hurricane just as funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is being directed away from disaster relief and to the southern border of the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security announced this week it will move $155 million dollars from FEMA to border security. 

Governor Ron DeSantis said on Thursday he doesn’t think the move will affect any money needed after Hurricane Dorian and that he is “confident it’s not going to affect Florida in a negative way.”

In Puerto Rico, nearly two years after hurricane Maria, the need for safe, affordable housing is still a massive challenge. "We have more than a half million people affected. And we have to build, minimum, 75,000 homes, " says Astrid Diaz, a well-known architect in Puerto Rico. She was part of a FEMA team that assessed the island's infrastructure after the storm.

Diaz often appears on television wearing her trademark yellow hardhat, promoting her "Casa Segura-Safe Homes" campaign.

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