ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress that disaster response is a priority for people of faith

domestic policy icon action alert bufferJune 1 marks the start of hurricane and wildfire season in the United States. This season comes as many declared and undeclared federally recognized disasters have already displaced many in our communities – and as emergency coordinators are bracing for more natural disasters in the coming months.

Survivors and those of us who have been impacted by catastrophes understand that much more can be done. Access to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) benefits needs to be simplified. Additionally, more should be done to strengthen the resiliency of our neighborhoods to weather the intensity and frequency of disaster events and the costs associated with them.

Climate change dramatically increases impacts of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires, with huge losses of life and property, reduced agricultural yields, and costly disruptions to society. The ELCA social message “Earth’s Climate Crisis’” asks us to witness publicly to the climate crisis by becoming “anticipatory communities” that model climate resiliency, and we can do so.

Earlier this spring, Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) and Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced the Disaster Survivors Fairness Act of 2023 in the House of Representatives. The bipartisan bill would make several major improvements to our public policies aimed at addressing natural disasters, including:

  • Creating a simplified “universal application” for federal disaster assistance and enabling federal agencies to better coordinate with each other
  • Authorizing FEMA to reimburse state-level disaster solutions, and require FEMA to report to Congress new post-disaster solutions for renters
  • Find additional improvements described in linked Disaster Survivors Fairness Act details.

Faith-based volunteers, houses of worship, and disaster response coordinators, such as ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response, are often on the front line of major disasters, serving those of us in the greatest need. As direct stakeholders active in disaster response, lawmakers are interested in hearing about our congregations’ experiences and perspectives on working with FEMA and our neighbors in times of need.

Offer a customized letter with your own story, disaster experience, or faith-based reflection to Congress today.

POSTED: 6/1/2023

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