Current Requirements and Processes for Declaration Requests

Types of Declarations and Assistance

Stafford Act assistance is intended to supplement State and local resources. States must establish in their requests that the event is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments. (42 U.S.C. 5121(2))

Emergency Declarations:

Emergency Declarations are to supplement efforts in providing short-term emergency services, such as the protection of lives, property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe. (42 U.S.C. 5191)

Major Disaster Declaration:

A major disaster declaration may provide a wide range of Federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work. (42 U.S.C. 5170)

Types of FEMA disaster assistance that may be made available by major disaster declarations:

  • Individual Assistance - Assistance to individuals and households. (More information can be found at: (42 U.S.C. 5174);
  • Public Assistance - Assistance to State, Indian tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities. (More information can be found at: (42 U.S.C. 5170b and 5172); and
  • Hazard Mitigation Assistance - Assistance to State and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for actions taken to prevent or reduce long term risk to life and property from natural hazards. (More information can be found at (42 U.S.C. 5170c).

Preliminary Damage Assessments

In support of requests for a major disaster declaration, Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs) are conducted to estimate the extent of the disaster and its impact on individuals and public facilities. A PDA is not required for an emergency declaration request. The PDA team may be comprised of personnel from FEMA, the State’s emergency management agency, Territorial, Indian tribal and affected local government officials and other Federal agencies (e.g., the U.S. Small Business Administration). The team’s work begins with assessing the emergency costs incurred by the units of government, the uninsured damage to public facilities, and the impacts on individuals’ lives, homes and businesses. This information is included in the Governor’s request to the President.

Requirements for Submitting Declaration Requests

Governors submit declaration requests to the President through the appropriate FEMA Regional Administrator. The Stafford Act requires a Governor of an affected State to base his/her declaration request on the finding that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments and that Federal assistance is necessary. The Governor must also take appropriate response action under State law, direct execution of the State’s emergency plan, have or will commit resources to alleviate the results for the disaster, and certify that the State will comply with all cost sharing requirements.

In order for FEMA to make Public Assistance, Individual Assistance, and Hazard Mitigation available to eligible areas, Governors must have the following agreements and/or plans:

  • In order to receive Public Assistance, Governors must have an approved Public Assistance Administrative Plan. (44 CFR 206.207)
  • In order to receive Public Assistance Categories C-G and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program assistance, States must have an approved or approvable Tribal or State mitigation plan. Please refer to the State Mitigation Planning Guidance. For Tribes, the Tribal Mitigation Planning Guidance is available. (44 CFR 201.4(a))
  • In order to receive Individual and Household Program assistance, Governors must have an approved Other Needs Assistance Administrative Plan. (44 CFR 206.120)
    • Within 72 hours of a disaster declaration, a State may submit modifications of the Administrative Plan. (44 CFR 206.120(e))
  • States and local governments must comply with the “Uniform Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments.” (44 CFR Part 13)

FEMA would like to have your feedback on whether there are circumstances that may prevent a Chief Executive of an Indian tribal government from complying with these current requirements and processes for the declaration requests during the pilot program.

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.