The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is part of the United States Department of Homeland Security. Its mission is to support the citizens of the United States and its first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
The Emergency Relief (ER) program, administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), supplements the commitment of resources by states, counties, and cities to help pay for unusually heavy expenses resulting from extraordinary conditions. These funds are available for the repair of federal-aid highways or roads on federal land that have been seriously damaged by natural or man-made disasters.
The initial first response to a disaster is the job of local government’s emergency services with help from nearby municipalities, the state, and volunteer agencies. In the face of a disaster, at the request of the governor, federal resources can be mobilized through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These resources are used for search and rescue, electrical power, food, water, shelter, and other basic human needs.
The following steps are the standard procedure following a disaster:
- The local government, neighboring communities, and volunteer organizations respond, and if overwhelmed, ask for assistance by the state;
- The state responds with the National Guard and other state resources;
- Local, state, federal, and volunteer organizations provide a damage assessment, determining losses and recovery needs;
- Based on the damage assessment, the governor requests a Major Disaster Declaration, which puts into motion long-term federal recovery programs. The governor must at this point formally commit state funds and resources to the long-term recovery;
- FEMA evaluates the request and recommends action to the White House based on the disaster, the local community, and the state’s ability to recover;
- A decision is made by the President within several hours or a few weeks depending on the nature of the disaster, and FEMA informs the governor if it has been approved or denied. If approved, funding comes from the President’s Disaster Relief Fund, which is managed by FEMA and disaster aid programs of other participating federal agencies.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides affordable insurance for property owners to encourage communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations, reducing the socio-economic impact of disasters of flooding on private and public structures. This functions to mitigate the effects of flooding on new and improved structures.
A Disaster Preparedness and Recovery plan outlines a strategy for responding to an emergency or a disaster, and provides information essential to prevention, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation. It identifies the resources needed to communicate effectively, provide timely emergency support and grant-making services, ensure safety of emergency responders, documenting all actions taken to allow for/improve chances of federal reimbursement, protect documents, and maintain continuity of support operations.