The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell highlighted the agency’s progress in implementing its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan.
The past year was pivotal for FEMA, marked by a focus on building resilient communities capable of withstanding future threats.
Criswell noted: “2023 was a year of records. From atmospheric rivers to once-in-a-century fires, even a tropical storm in California, FEMA spent last year working hard to deliver help to disaster survivors across the country.”
She emphasized FEMA’s commitment to breaking the cycle of response and recovery, bolstered by increased investments from the Biden-Harris Administration.
In 2023, FEMA undertook significant strides in streamlining disaster assistance and emphasizing equity.
The redesign of the registration process on DisasterAssistance.gov was a notable achievement, expected to reduce application time by approximately 15%.
Criswell stated: “This change is expected to decrease application time by approximately 15%.” FEMA’s engagement with over 260 Tribal Nations and the establishment of a Tribal Cybersecurity Grant underscored its commitment to building resilience across diverse communities.
FEMA prioritized disability integration throughout the disaster lifecycle, identifying potential points of inequity for people with disabilities.
The agency also leveraged faith-based, community, and volunteer partnerships to improve disaster management support.
Initiatives like the Protecting Places of Worship Briefing and the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which saw a 50% increase in applications, were key highlights of FEMA’s efforts in 2023.
FEMA dedicated nearly $3 billion in climate resilience funding in 2023, including significant investments in infrastructure resilience and flood mitigation.
Criswell attended the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP28), marking FEMA’s heightened commitment to climate mitigation.
The agency also announced the designation of 483 Community Disaster Resilience Zones, offering targeted support for resilience against natural hazards.
FEMA’s commitment to its workforce’s mental health was evident, with licensed mental health professionals positioned in all regions.
The Ready Campaign’s Summer and Winter initiatives provided crucial preparedness resources.
In response to over 100 new disasters, FEMA delivered $1.3 billion in direct assistance to survivors, including those affected by the Maui wildfires and Hurricane Idalia.
FEMA’s efforts in 2023 reflect a comprehensive approach to disaster management, emphasizing resilience, equity, and partnership.
The agency’s focus on integrating disability needs, strengthening community relations, and enhancing climate resilience strategies marks a significant evolution in its operational framework.
The advancements in disaster assistance technology and the emphasis on mental health for its workforce demonstrate FEMA’s commitment to modernizing its response and recovery strategies.
These initiatives, along with the substantial financial resources allocated for disaster mitigation, position FEMA as a key player in shaping a resilient future for communities facing an array of environmental threats.