A Federal Disaster policy is a program that guides the process of providing support and assistance to disaster-stricken areas. When a catastrophe strikes, the local government and the neighboring municipalities join hands in recovery efforts. If the local government is overwhelmed, the state joins in to provide further assistance. For mega disasters, the state usually finds itself in the wrong footing. At this point, the governor declares a state of emergency and calls upon the intervention of the national government. The government, through the Department of Homeland Security, takes up the case. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is the body given the task to spearhead particularly long-term recovery efforts after a disaster. Constituted about thirty-four years ago, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) an agency under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security has been the force behind disaster management. Through its policies and programs, it chips in during disasters that overwhelm the state and local authorities by taking part in rebuilding efforts through issuing of funds and relevant expertise. This essay takes highlights the policies, the pros and cons associated with it and its effectiveness in achieving the tasks.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) goal is to enable property owners insure their property with the government. The policy insures home and property owners in flood-prone areas against losses incurred due to floods. Communities in flood prone areas make an agreement with the national government to relocate, from Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA), for members to be eligible for insurance by the government. Mapping of the Special Flood Hazard Areas occurs with an indication on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps. The Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration oversee the working of the NFIP and manage its efforts in identifying the flood prone areas and the SFHAs. The NFIP issues three types of forms in an effort to undertake its mandate. The Dwelling Policy Form is issued to homeowners and residential property owners, the Residential Condominium Building Association Policy Form to residential condominium buildings and the General Property Policy Form to owners of non-residential buildings and property up to and including infrastructure such as hospitals and schools.
The NFIP was created in 1968. Since then, it has been amended in 1973 and 1982. As of 2010, the NFIP had already insured more than five million homes, a great moment in the history of its creation and a plus due to the positive impact it has made. Before it was set up, there were no private firms providing insurance covers for losses due to floods. The property owners had to bear the burden of getting back to their feet all on their own. However, with its inception, much of this has changed. The assistance provided by the NFIP is not just limited to the national level. At the local and state level, the NFIP, through the agency provides support in terms of personnel and advice. When in need of financial back-up, it makes a request to the Treasury that releases the funds. This federal interaction has been the subject of criticism and debate on more than one occasion. The costs the NFIP has incurred in its quest to pay out claims to victims of floods runs into billions of shillings. The issue raised with serious concern by many is that some people get funds, yet they do not deserve it. For instance, the NFIP should ensure that owners of property have insurance, who in turn rent out the property to renters. In the event of a flood, not only is the house destroyed, but also the property in it. Paying out the homeowner and leaving the tenant amounts to a grave omission.
Conflict between the local governments and the national government on disaster management has also come out with the NFIP in the middle of it all. Lack of cooperation and intrusion is some of the issues cited and raised by either party. The program has failed to live up to the expectations of the people, and its performance has been below standards (Thomas, 1997). The immediacy and speed in response, in managing disasters, and the lack of accountability in terms of issuing aid to those who need it the most are two of the major failures (Burby,2006). However, in accordance with the constitutional framework of federalism, the program deserves credit. The constitutional framework of federalism stipulates the powers accorded to the national government in matters pertaining to a state and the powers reserved to the state in handling matters affecting it. In the event of a flood, the NFIP program allows the state to handle the matter on its own, and when it becomes too much for the state, the national government, through the NFIP, helps.