While natural disasters have impacted the United States for countless decades—from The Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina—these catastrophic events are seemingly occurring with a more severe frequency. For New York and New Jersey residents, 2012’s Superstorm Sandy was the largest and most damaging event in recent history.
In cases as serious and far-reaching as Sandy, federal and state entities often work together to better ascertain the needs of impacted residents.
When the worst is realized from a storm event, FEMA is the one government entity that can offer direct, comprehensive aid.
“If it is determined that the damage is beyond their recovery capability, the governor will normally send a request letter to the president, directed through the regional director of the appropriate FEMA region,” says Howard J. Perl, a senior attorney with the Florida-based Katzman Garfinkel & Berger. “The president then makes the decision whether or not to declare a major disaster or emergency,” adds Perl, who is well-versed in the FEMA application process.
Along with fund and on-site disaster recovery support, FEMA also provides local and state government officials with experts in specialized fields and funding for rebuilding efforts. In addition, FEMA provides funds for training of response personnel. FEMA also directs individuals to access low interest loans in conjunction with the Small Business Administration (SBA).