Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended, and Related Authorities
FEMA 592, June 2007
Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 93-288, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 5121-5207, and Related Authorities
UNITED STATES CODE
TITLE 42. THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE CHAPTER 68. DISASTER RELIEF
Title I -- Findings, Declarations and Definitions
Sec. 101. Congressional Findings and Declarations (42 U.S.C. 5121)
(a) The Congress hereby finds and declares that -
(1) because disasters often cause loss of life, human suffering, loss of income, and property loss and damage; and
(2) because disasters often disrupt the normal functioning of governments and communities, and adversely affect individuals and families with great severity; special measures, designed to assist the efforts of the affected States in expediting the rendering of aid, assistance, and emergency services, and the reconstruction and rehabilitation of devastated areas, are necessary.
(b) It is the intent of the Congress, by this Act, to provide an orderly and continuing means of assistance by the Federal Government to State and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to alleviate the suffering and damage which result from such disasters by -
(1) revising and broadening the scope of existing disaster relief programs;
(2) encouraging the development of comprehensive disaster preparedness and assistance plans, programs, capabilities, and organizations by the States and by local governments;
(3) achieving greater coordination and responsiveness of disaster preparedness and relief programs;
(4) encouraging individuals, States, and local governments to protect themselves by obtaining insurance coverage to supplement or replace governmental assistance;
(5) encouraging hazard mitigation measures to reduce losses from disasters,
including development of land use and construction regulations; and (6) providing Federal assistance programs for both public and private losses sustained in disasters
Sec. 102. Definitions (42 U.S.C. 5122)*
As used in this Act -
(1) “Emergency” means any occasion or instance for which, in the determination of the President, Federal assistance is needed to supplement State and local efforts and capabilities to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States.
(2) “Major disaster” means any natural catastrophe (including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought), or, regardless of cause, any fire, flood, or explosion, in any part of the United States, which in the determination of the President causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant major disaster assistance under this Act to supplement the efforts and available resources of States, local governments, and disaster relief organizations in alleviating the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering caused thereby.
(3) “United States” means the fifty States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
(4) “State” means any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
(5) “Governor” means the chief executive of any State.
(6) “Individual with a Disability”- The term “individual with a disability” means an individual with a disability as defined in section 3(2) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12102(2)).
(7) The term “local government” means –
(A) a county, municipality, city, town, township, local public authority, school district, special district, intrastate district, council of governments (regardless of whether the council of governments is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation under State law), regional or interstate government entity, or agency or instrumentality of a local government;
(B) an Indian tribe or authorized tribal organization, or Alaska Native village or organization; and
(C) a rural community, unincorporated town or village, or other public entity, for which an application for assistance is made by a State or political subdivision of a State.
(8) “Federal agency” means any department, independent establishment, Government corporation, or other agency of the executive branch of the Federal Government, including the United States Postal Service, but shall not include the American National Red Cross.
(9) “Public facility” means the following facilities owned by a State or local government:
(A) Any flood control, navigation, irrigation, reclamation, public power, sewage treatment and collection, water supply and distribution, watershed development, or airport facility.
(B) Any non-Federal-aid street, road, or highway.
(C) Any other public building, structure, or system, including those used for educational, recreational, or cultural purposes.
(D) Any park.
(10) Private nonprofit facility -
(A) In General - The term “private nonprofit facility” means private nonprofit educational, utility, irrigation, emergency, medical, rehabilitational, and temporary or permanent custodial care facilities (including those for the aged and disabled) and facilities on Indian reservations, as defined by the President.
(B) Additional Facilities – In addition to the facilities described in subparagraph
(A), the term “private nonprofit facility” includes any private nonprofit facility that provides essential services of a governmental nature to the general public (including museums, zoos, performing arts facilities, community arts centers, libraries, homeless shelters, senior citizen centers, rehabilitation facilities, shelter workshops, and facilities that provide health and safety services of a governmental nature), as defined by the President.
Title II -- Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation Assistance
Sec. 201. Federal and State Disaster Preparedness Programs (42 U.S.C.
(a) Utilization of services of other agencies - The President is authorized to establish a program of disaster preparedness that utilizes services of all appropriate agencies and includes -
(1) preparation of disaster preparedness plans for mitigation, warning, emergency operations, rehabilitation, and recovery;
(2) training and exercises;
(3) postdisaster critiques and evaluations;
(4) annual review of programs;
(5) coordination of Federal, State, and local preparedness programs;
(6) application of science and technology;
(b) Technical assistance for the development of plans and programs - The President shall provide technical assistance to the States in developing comprehensive plans and practicable programs for preparation against disasters, including hazard reduction, avoidance, and mitigation; for assistance to individuals, businesses, and State and local governments following such disasters; and for recovery of damages or destroyed public and private facilities.
(c) Grants to States for development of plans and programs - Upon application by a State, the President is authorized to make grants, not to exceed in the aggregate to such State $250,000, for the development of plans, programs, and capabilities for disaster preparedness and prevention. Such grants shall be applied for within one year from May 22, 1974. Any State desiring financial assistance under this section shall designate or create an agency to plan and administer such a disaster preparedness program, and shall, through such agency, submit a State plan to the President, which shall
(1) set forth a comprehensive and detailed State program for preparation against and assistance following, emergencies and major disasters, including provisions for assistance to individuals, businesses, and local governments; and
(2) include provisions for appointment and training of appropriate staffs, formulation of necessary regulations and procedures and conduct of required exercises.
(d) Grants for improvement, maintenance, and updating of State plans - The President is authorized to make grants not to exceed 50 per centum of the cost of improving, maintaining and updating State disaster assistance plans, including evaluations of natural hazards and development of the programs and actions required to mitigate such hazards; except that no such grant shall exceed $50,000 per annum to any State.
Sec. 202. Disaster Warnings (42 U.S.C. 5132)
(a) Readiness of Federal agencies to issue warnings to state and local officials – The President shall insure that all appropriate Federal agencies are prepared to issue warnings of disasters to State and local officials.
(b) Technical assistance to State and local governments for effective warnings - The
President shall direct appropriate Federal agencies to provide technical assistance to State and local governments to insure that timely and effective disaster warning is provided.
(c) Warnings to governmental authorities and public endangered by disaster - The
President is authorized to utilize or to make available to Federal, State, and local agencies the facilities of the civil defense communications system established and maintained pursuant to section 5196(c) of this title or any other Federal communications system for the purpose of providing warning to governmental authorities and the civilian population in areas endangered by disasters.
(d) Agreements with commercial communications systems for use of facilities – The President is authorized to enter into agreements with the officers or agents of any private or commercial communications systems who volunteer the use of their systems on a reimbursable or nonreimbursable basis for the purpose of providing warning to governmental authorities and the civilian population endangered by disasters.
Sec. 203. Predisaster Hazard Mitigation (42 U.S.C. 5133)
(a) Definition of Small Impoverished Community - In this section, the term “small impoverished community” means a community of 3,000 or fewer individuals that is economically disadvantaged, as determined by the State in which the community is located and based on criteria established by the President.
(b) Establishment of Program - The President may establish a program to provide
technical and financial assistance to States and local governments to assist in the implementation of pre-disaster hazard mitigation measures that are cost-effective and are designed to reduce injuries, loss of life, and damage and destruction of property, including damage to critical services and facilities under the jurisdiction of the States or local governments.
(c) Approval by President - If the President determines that a State or local government has identified natural disaster hazards in areas under its jurisdiction and has demonstrated the ability to form effective public-private natural disaster hazard mitigation partnerships, the President, using amounts in the National Predisaster Mitigation Fund established under subsection (i) (referred to in this section as the “Fund”), may provide technical and financial assistance to the State or local government to be used in accordance with subsection (e).
(d) State Recommendations -
(1) In general -
(A) Recommendations -The Governor of each State may recommend to the President not fewer than five local governments to receive assistance under this section.
(B) Deadline for submission -The recommendations under subparagraph (A) shall be submitted to the President not later than October 1, 2001, and each October 1st thereafter or such later date in the year as the President may establish.
(C) Criteria - In making recommendations under subparagraph (A), a Governor shall consider the criteria specified in subsection (g).
(2) Use -
(A) In general - Except as provided in subparagraph (B), in providing assistance to local governments under this section, the President shall select from local governments recommended by the Governors under this subsection.
(B) Extraordinary circumstances - In providing assistance to local governments under this section, the President may select a local government that has not been recommended by a Governor under this subsection if the President determines that extraordinary circumstances justify the selection and that making the selection will further the purpose of this section.
(3) Effect of failure to nominate - If a Governor of a State fails to submit recommendations under this subsection in a timely manner, the President may select, subject to the criteria specified in subsection (g), any local governments of the State to receive assistance under this section.
(e) Uses of Technical and Financial Assistance -
(1) In general - Technical and financial assistance provided under this section
(A) shall be used by States and local governments principally to implement predisaster hazard mitigation measures that are cost-effective and are described in proposals approved by the President under this section; and
(B) may be used -
(i) to support effective public-private natural disaster hazard mitigation partnerships;
(ii) to improve the assessment of a community's vulnerability to natural hazards; or
(iii) to establish hazard mitigation priorities, and an appropriate hazard mitigation plan, for a community
(2) Dissemination - A State or local government may use not more than 10 percent of the financial assistance received by the State or local government under this section for a fiscal year to fund activities to disseminate information regarding cost-effective mitigation technologies.
(f) Allocation of Funds - The amount of financial assistance made available to a State (including amounts made available to local governments of the State) under this section for
a fiscal year -
(1) shall be not less than the lesser of -
(A) $500,000; or
(B) the amount that is equal to 1.0 percent of the total funds appropriated to carry out this section for the fiscal year;
(2) shall not exceed 15 percent of the total funds described in paragraph (1)(B); and
(3) shall be subject to the criteria specified in subsection (g).
(g) Criteria for Assistance Awards - In determining whether to provide technical and financial assistance to a State or local government under this section, the President shall take into account -
(1) the extent and nature of the hazards to be mitigated;
(2) the degree of commitment by the State or local government to reduce damages from future natural disasters;
(3) the degree of commitment by the State or local government to support ongoing non-Federal support for the hazard mitigation measures to be carried out using the technical and financial assistance;
(4) the extent to which the hazard mitigation measures to be carried out using the technical and financial assistance contribute to the mitigation goals and priorities established by the State;
(5) the extent to which the technical and financial assistance is consistent with other assistance provided under this Act;
(6) the extent to which prioritized, cost-effective mitigation activities that produce meaningful and definable outcomes are clearly identified;
(7) if the State or local government has submitted a mitigation plan under section 5165 of this title, the extent to which the activities identified under paragraph (6) are consistent with the mitigation plan;
(8) the opportunity to fund activities that maximize net benefits to society;
(9) the extent to which assistance will fund mitigation activities in small impoverished communities; and
(10) such other criteria as the President establishes in consultation with State and local governments.
(h) Federal Share -
(1) In general - Financial assistance provided under this section may contribute up to 75 percent of the total cost of mitigation activities approved by the President.
(2) Small impoverished communities - Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the President may contribute up to 90 percent of the total cost of a mitigation activity carried out in a small impoverished community.
(i) National Predisaster Mitigation Fund -
(1) Establishment - The President may establish in the Treasury of the United States a fund to be known as the “National Predisaster Mitigation Fund”, to be used in carrying out this section.
(2) Transfers to fund - There shall be deposited in the Fund -
(A) amounts appropriated to carry out this section, which shall remain available until expended; and
(B) sums available from gifts, bequests, or donations of services or
property received by the President for the purpose of predisaster
(3) Expenditures from fund - Upon request by the President, the Secretary of the Treasury shall transfer from the Fund to the President such amounts as the President determines are necessary to provide technical and financial assistance under this section.
(4) Investment of amounts -
(A) In general - The Secretary of the Treasury shall invest such portion of the Fund as is not, in the judgment of the Secretary of the
Treasury, required to meet current withdrawals. Investments may be made only in interest-bearing obligations of the United States.
(B) Acquisition of obligations - For the purpose of investments under subparagraph (A), obligations may be acquired -
(i) on original issue at the issue price; or
(ii) by purchase of outstanding obligations at the market price.
(C) Sale of obligations - Any obligation acquired by the Fund may be sold by the Secretary of the Treasury at the market price.
(D) Credits to fund - The interest on, and the proceeds from the sale or redemption of, any obligations held in the Fund shall be credited to and form a part of the Fund.
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