Importance of Rural Funding, Resources, and Support for Emergency Preparedness and Response
Rural communities face barriers and challenges
that make them vulnerable to the shocks and stressors resulting from emergencies and disasters. Rural
communities do not have the same resources as urban areas, including people and materials, and they are more
likely to have financial constraints that slow recovery. For example, rural recovery
from the 2008 recession was incomplete before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Rural communities also have
more limited funding for rural response agencies.
Economic stability is important to emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. Rural communities that are
economically stable have greater capacity to recover from emergencies and build community vitality and
Investing in rural areas is an equity issue. Rural communities have historically experienced marginalization and
disinvestment. Health disparities exist between rural and urban
communities and across different racial and ethnic subgroups within rural communities. It is important to
support rural planning that focuses on equity and addresses disparities and discrimination. For more
information, see Need for Rural Health Equity Programs in
the Rural Health Equity Toolkit.
Many rural communities rely on federal grant programs to support rural preparedness and response, particularly
in the period following an emergency or disaster. In the United States, there are established mechanisms for
delivering post-disaster funding to reach communities affected by disaster events. However, there is a mismatch
between the amount of dollars going to rural areas and the proportion of residents living there.
Further, the formulas and requirements in place for rural communities to access these funds are often
complicated and unfavorable to rural communities and can span multiple departments, agencies, and offices. This
makes it challenging for rural communities that are under-resourced to have the capacity to access funding.
Often, there is a gap between the time a disaster occurs and the time that funds and assistance are appropriated
and then expended in a community. This is particularly true for housing
assistance for families affected by a disaster. Local capacity to prepare for and respond to emergencies
can affect the pace of recovery in local communities. Local capacity includes factors such as funding,
resources, and support.
Hurricane Sally Present Dual-Threat in Alabama
The City of Gulf Shores maintains a reserve fund
to ensure financial sustainability during an emergency. The reserve fund pays for expenses incurred during
recovery, including employee and contract expenses. The city also routinely applies for Hazard Mitigation
Assistance Grants through FEMA. These funds activate during an emergency and help the city be more
self-sustaining through use of generators, communications equipment, and vehicle upgrades.