It may only be March 8th, but FEMA has already issued six Major Disaster Declarations so far this year. These declarations ranged from wildfires, flooding and mudflows in California to tropical storm Gita in American Samoa. Even though this number is down sharply from the same time last year—there were 21 Major Disaster Declarations between January 1 and March 8, 2017 and 137 in total for the entire 12-month period—it will surely rise over the coming months. Could your area be the next one hard hit by a hurricane, earthquake or tornado outbreak, and ultimately receive a Major Disaster Declaration from FEMA and the President? Only time will tell.

The President can declare a Major Disaster Declaration for any natural event he or she believes has caused damage of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of state, local and tribal governments to respond and recover. Such declaration provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work. Per FEMA, such assistance falls into three general categories:

  • Individual Assistance – Aid to individuals and households;
  • Public Assistance – Aid to public (and certain non-profit) entities for certain emergency services and the repair or replacement of disaster damaged public facilities;
  • Hazard Mitigation Assistance – Funding for measures designed to reduce future losses to public and private property.

While the types of assistance your area may receive depends on the needs determined by FEMA’s Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA), it is good to know such help is available and can be obtained through a relatively simple process. It’s also good to know that a portion of this funding can support long-term initiatives to better prepare your area for what may eventually lie ahead. These initiatives may include developing or improving your Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), Continuity of Operations/Government Plan (COOP/COG), or Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP), to name a few.

BOLDplanning is well-versed in all three of these critical areas, and can help you put precious federal government dollars to work following a Major Disaster Declaration. Or, better yet, befor