Graves’ Bill Protecting Flood Victims Passes House
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Sam Graves’ (MO-06) Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act (H.R. 539) passed the House of Representatives today with broad bipartisan support.
H.R. 539 requires FEMA to waive the debt of individuals whom the agency mistakenly awards assistance to, so long as no fraud has been committed. It further requires FEMA to report to Congress on the number of mistakes the agency makes in individual assistance award determinations and take steps to minimize such mistakes in the future.
“This legislation is absolutely critical for helping communities recover after disasters,” said Graves. “Disaster victims need to know they can use relief money to rebuild their homes and their lives without the fear that FEMA will come back weeks, months, or even years later demanding those funds back through no fault of their own. This bill gives disaster victims the confidence they need to get back on their feet, while holding FEMA accountable for their own mistakes.”
Graves introduced the bill after FEMA clawed back individual assistance funds from a Holt County resident following the Flood of 2019. The individual in question lost his family home and was mistakenly provided over $12,000 in FEMA Individual Assistance money to help him get back on his feet, only to be told later he didn’t qualify and would have to pay it back.