Issue Brief

A New Era of Disaster Aid? Reflections on the Sandy Supplemental

Summary

Disaster aid declarations, and supplemental funding for them, have been growing over time—but individuals and households only received a fraction of the Sandy funds.

Key Findings

  • Disaster aid declarations, and supplemental funding for them, have been growing over time.
  • After Hurricane Sandy (2012), Congress approved more than $50 billion in supplemental funding.
  • Since Hurricane Katrina (2005), a large share of aid has been channeled to local governments through grant programs in HUD, as opposed to the traditional FEMA programs. This was again the case after Sandy.
  • Individuals and households will receive only a fraction of Sandy funds.
  • The Sandy supplemental will fund many projects not related to emergency relief and recovery, exempting these projects from the usual budgetary scrutiny. Many of these projects are designed to reduce damages from future event.