Procedures to Request Emergency and Major Disaster Declarations

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) authorizes the President to make certain Federal assistance available to support state, local, tribal and territorial efforts to respond to and recover from a disaster. The President makes disaster assistance available after he declares that an emergency or major disaster has occurred and that Federal assistance is needed to supplement state and local government resources. In the past, the Stafford Act allowed only the Governor of a State to make a request for a declaration by the President for an emergency or major disaster.

On Tuesday, January 29, 2013, President Obama signed the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013, which includes a provision amending the Stafford Act to provide federally recognized Indian tribal governments form the option to make a request directly to the President for a Federal emergency or major disaster declaration, or to seek assistance, as they do presently, under a declaration for a State.

Specifically, the amendment permits the “Chief Executive” of an “affected Indian tribal government” to submit a request for a declaration to the President that a major disaster or emergency exists consistent with the requirements listed in Stafford Act section 401 (major disasters) and 501 (emergencies). The amendment also stipulates that an Indian tribal government may be eligible to receive assistance through a declaration made by the President at the request of a State, so long as the Indian tribal government does not receive a separate declaration from the President for the same incident.

In addition to this collaboration site, comments will be received by April 22, 2013 through the Federal Register Notice process identified by Docket ID FEMA-2013-0006 Document Number 2013-05391 at and may be submitted by one of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments. 
  • Mail: Regulatory Affairs Division, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Room 835, 500 C Street, SW., Washington, DC 20472-3100.

Below you will find an explanation of the current regulatory requirements (located in Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations) for a Governor’s request for an emergency or major disaster declaration and the factors FEMA uses to make a recommendation to the President about whether supplemental Federal assistance is needed. These regulations are currently framed with respect to States.

As an initial step in consultation with Indian tribal governments and outreach to other stakeholders, FEMA asks Indian tribal governments for their thoughts and comments on how these requirements and factors may or may not be appropriate as applied to requests from Indian tribal governments during the pilot program. The input provided will inform the development of the pilot program to process declaration requests from Indian tribal governments.

FEMA welcomes comments on any or all of the topics addressed below in the manner you prefer. Comments are also welcomed on any other issues that may not be covered in the below topics.


Procedures to Request Emergency and Major Disaster Declarations

Making Studies for FEMA More Effective Using Hands-On Approach

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