Federal Emergency Management Agency Finalizes Pilot Guidance for Tribal Disaster Declarations Process for Stafford Act Disasters

January 14, 2017

Washington, DC - - (January 10, 2017) - - Today, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced the release of its Tribal Declarations Pilot Guidance and the beginning of the pilot phase of tribal declarations under this new guidance.

The pilot guidance describes the process which tribal governments will use to request Stafford Act declarations and the criteria FEMA will use to evaluate direct tribal declaration requests and make recommendations to the President.

“With the release of the Tribal Declarations Pilot Guidance, FEMA is embarking on a new era of collaboration and partnership with tribal communities.” said FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate. “We look forward to continuing to work with tribal nations as a part of the whole community for response and recovery from disasters.”

The creation of the pilot guidance follows the signing of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act (SRIA) into law in 2013. SRIA amended the Stafford Act, providing federally-recognized Indian tribal governments with the option to make their own request for a presidential emergency or major disaster declaration independently of a state or to seek assistance through a declaration for a state. FEMA has always strived for continuous improvement and growth of nation-to-nation relations with federally recognized tribal governments that recognizes tribal sovereignty, self-governance, and FEMA’s responsibility consistent with applicable authorities.

The pilot guidance is a culmination of over three years of tribal consultation and development of a Stafford Act declarations process specifically for tribal nations. It incorporates key changes based on comments FEMA received from tribes. These changes include establishment of the minimum damage amount for Public Assistance to $250,000; the addition of historic preservation as a demographic factor that may influence the impacts of a disaster; expansion of eligibility under the Individuals and Households Program to include non-enrolled tribal community members, when requested by the tribal government; and modifying and adding definitions of terms.

The final pilot guidance can be found online at www.fema.gov/tribal-policies-legislation.

Information source: Federal Emergency Management Agency