‘We can do better’: FEMA makes sweeping changes to speed up disaster aid

Responding to frustrations from impacted communities across the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Friday that it is making sweeping changes so that more disaster victims get financial assistance faster and with fewer rules, red tape and delays. 

“Accessibility has been a huge obstacle,” said Whitney Bailey, an attorney for the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, who spends her days helping victims of flood disasters with FEMA appeals. Her clients are often baffled by trying to navigate the maze of disaster aid.

For instance, when FEMA initially rejects an aid application, many folks interpret that as the final decision. Just making more clear that isn’t the case, she said, would be significant.

“A lot of people throw their hands up when they receive this ineligibility letter. But it’s not the end,” she said. “Small changes could make a huge impact.”

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