OFFICE OF IN
Department of Homeland Security
On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall, affecting coastal and inlandcommunities resulting in loss of life, major flooding, structural damage, and power lossto more than 8.5 million homes and businesses (directly affecting more than 17 millionindividuals). A dangerous snowstorm followed 9 days later, causing additional damageand power outages. Thirteen days after Hurricane Sandy’s landfall, 166,649 residentialcustomers across three States - New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut - remainedwithout power, in large part because of damage to their electrical systems, whichprevented the electric utility companies from restoring power to their homes. Withoutadditional government assistance, many of these homes could be without power duringwinter months, thus creating an immediate and undue threat to public health andsafety.In response to this need, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)established the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) pilot program,enabling residents to return to or remain in their homes as a form of shelter whilepermanent repairs are completed. This program will reduce the number of people inshelters or in the Transitional Shelter Assistance Program.The need for innovative FEMA programs and alternative housing solutions has been thesubject of past congressional testimony. On July 8, 2009, Department of HomelandSecurity Inspector General Richard Skinner testified before the Committee on HomelandSecurity, U.S. House of Representatives, that the task of repairing and restoring housingstock is one of the most important challenges facing FEMA and its response andrecovery partners following a catastrophic disaster, and that all other housing decisionsand programs hinge on that single variable. Developing alternative housing options inresponse to catastrophic disasters is important for a number of reasons, but a key one isthe cost of the current approach to post-disaster housing. FEMA does not havesufficient tools, operational procedures, and legislative authorities to promote the cost-effective repair of housing stocks, which would increase the amount of housing availableand likely limit increases in the cost of housing, particularly rental rates.
Results of Audit
FEMA’s STEP pilot program is consistent with the authorities granted to the agency bythe
Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act
(Stafford Act) inassisting jurisdictions to perform activities that are essential in saving lives, protectingpublic health and safety, and protecting property. In carrying out this program, FEMAneeds to address the vulnerabilities that are present whenever large sums of money are