The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has allotted more than $45 billion in disaster relief and financial aid to states since 2017, according to a new report from ValuePenguin.com by LendingTree (NASDAQ: TREE). While FEMA’s budget has adjusted to crises in the past, the agency’s response to the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic presents a different kind of risk.
COVID-19’s effect on FEMA’s expenses, coupled with a forecast for a stronger-than-normal hurricane season and the recovery efforts that could be needed as a result, necessitate a deeper look at who depends on FEMA’s financial help the most. Here are the key findings from the report:
- Since 2017, FEMA has allotted more than $45 billion toward disaster relief and financial aid in the United States, of which more than 80% has been used. $10 billion remains unspent, free to be included in future budgets.
- Texas has received the most money from FEMA, totaling more than $7.6 billion in federal aid and spending more than $6.2 billion. Florida, California and North Carolina also received more than $1 billion in federal aid in the last three years. Arizona, Montana and Utah received the smallest amount of FEMA disaster relief – amounting to less than $10 million since 2017.
- Arizona both receives and spends the least FEMA money. Since 2017, the state has received $2.3 million in FEMA aid and spent about $720,000. Additionally, Hawaii, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Minnesota have all spent less than 40% of their FEMA money — the lowest utilization rate among all states. Utah, Montana, North Dakota and New Hampshire have all spent the largest proportion of the FEMA money they receive — at least 85%, with Utah spending close to 90%.
- In response to COVID-19, FEMA has budgeted nearly $10 billion of its relief funds to states affected by the virus, with 40% going to New York and California alone. States where COVID-19 is currently seeing a resurgence, such as South Carolina, Arizona and Ohio, could see more funds from FEMA before the end of its fiscal year – however, the funds budgeted to these states at the moment account for a total of $294 million, or just 3% of FEMA’s budget.
- FEMA has also committed $2.4 Billion in relief funds to emergency facilities and firms producing medical supplies, such as ventilators, with most of the beneficiaries located in North Carolina. Vendors in North Carolina received $751 million from FEMA — by far the most of vendors in any other state.
Andrew Hurst, a research analyst at ValuePenguin.com, says Americans need not worry about FEMA running out of money. He said, “Although the effects of COVID-19 present an unprecedented test to FEMA’s budget, my analysis of historic data shows that the agency’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) has grown to accommodate the needs of Americans in the past – for example, between 2010 and 2019, the DRF has doubled.” He adds, “FEMA’s continuing adjustments to its budget and Congress’s willingness to approve emergency funding mean Americans who depend on FEMA’s loans or a FEMA-backed insurance policy will still have access to them, even as COVID-19 diverts more of the agency’s resources.”
ValuePenguin.com analyzed expense data provided by FEMA in its monthly Disaster Relief Fund reports to Congress, its state funding reports and the General Services Administration’s COVID-19 contract portal to assess the agency’s financial commitments. To view the full report, visit: https://www.valuepenguin.com/which-states-depend-on-fema-aid
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