• CPS - FEMA

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is one of the nation’s first federal emergency response divisions and can trace its beginnings to the Congressional Act of 1803. Currently FEMA has more than 7,400 employees across the country working in either their headquarters in Washington, D.C., one of ten regional offices, the National Emergency Training Center, or other locations. According to FEMA they are “not the team, but part of a team.” That team consists of federal, state, and tribal partners, local officials, the private sector, nonprofits, religious groups, and the general public. FEMA primarily deals with national emergencies and does so by offering individual aid and institutional support following disasters and hazard mitigation to prevent future problems.

    When disasters occur, state and local governments are responsible for aid until the state’s governor requests federal aid or the event is deemed a national emergency by the president—then FEMA steps in. Following a disaster, FEMA offers individuals disaster housing, disaster grants, and low interest loans to help alleviate the financial burden of the tragedy for state and local agencies and individuals. Additionally, FEMA offers crisis counseling, disaster-related unemployment services, legal aid, and a number of other necessities. This is often done after disaster workers arrive and set up a central field office to coordinate the recovery process. The central field office aids victims attempting to complete emergency assistance applications and checks the status of their benefits on site.

    When disaster strikes, state and local governments may be financially ill equipped to assist all victims and need to rely on federal aid provided through FEMA. The aid given to local and state governments is intended to help pay the costs associated with rebuilding the damaged infrastructure of a community. Typically, FEMA covers 75 percent of the cost for projects like debris removal, emergency protective measures and public services, and repair of damaged public property. Their assistance also provides loans for essential government functions and awards grants to public schools.

    In the aftermath of a tragedy, FEMA does all they can to improve response and lessen the possibility for future damage. This is done through their hazard mitigation division. FEMA works with state and local officials to make changes like elevating or relocating homes in flood zones, reinforcing building to make them more resistant to earthquakes or strong winds, and modifying procedures, codes, and standards to improve response. These preventative measures also extend to citizens as FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration offers a number of insurance programs designed to reduce the amount of loss occurred during future tragedies.

    Although FEMA does not directly recruit volunteers, they partner with a number of volunteer agencies like Citizen Corps and the Corporation for National and Community Service. They also urge citizens to become trained in emergency aid and make an effort to donate materials and money so that FEMA can continue to serve the public.

    Back to Center for Public Service Stories Spotlight

  • See Also

Request Information

  • Step 1 of 2

Center for Public Service


  • US News Promo
  • Paying For School
  • Kaplan Commitment