Climbing up the 9-Step Ladder of Disaster Declarations

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Mar. 18, 2013 12:00 am  

David Maxwell

Federal aid for individuals can provide temporary housing, repair grants, home replacement (rarely), new home construction grants and funds for other needs like medical, dental, funeral costs, etc.

Arkansas received $53 million in federal assistance for individuals between 2004 and 2011.

Individual assistance can also help businesses through SBA loans. The SBA can provide home, business and economic injury disaster loans. The latter can be issued to both small businesses and agricultural cooperatives.

The SBA provided $338,500 in disaster assistance loans to Arkansas during its past two fiscal years; most of this was for drought conditions.

Finally, mitigation funds are issued by the state or FEMA to help prevent future disasters.

“We might build a bridge higher or a culvert larger so it doesn’t wash out,” Maxwell said.

The federal government provided Arkansas with $50 million for hazard mitigation between 2004 and 2011.

Process for Federal Disaster Declaration

  1. Incident
  2. State collects initial damage estimates.
  3. Governor requests Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs) from FEMA regional office.
  4. Joint federal/state/local/tribal PDAs are conducted in the areas requested by the state.
  5. Governor submits a request to the president through FEMA’s regional administrator for a major disaster or emergency declaration.  The request is based on PDA findings and specifies programs and counties for designation.
  6. Region reviews request and sends its recommendation to FEMA headquarters.
  7. FEMA headquarters reviews the state’s request and the region’s recommendations. The Declarations Unit prepares a White House package containing FEMA’s  recommendation to the president for the administrator’s signature.
  8. A draft White House package is emailed to the Department of Human Services secretary for review and approval for transmission to the White House.
  9. FEMA forwards the White House package to the president for decision.



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