On March 8, 2013, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published a notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER (attached) initiating tribal consultation on the preliminary implementation of the amendments made to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) which empower tribes to directly petition the President for a declaration on an emergency or major disaster. FEMA is seeking written comments (due April 22, 2013) on how best to implement these new Stafford Act amendments on an interim basis before final implementing regulations are developed. FEMA will also be holding consultation conference calls by Region beginning March 28, 2013. The schedule and call in information is posted here: http://www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation#calls_schedule
On March 13, 2013, FEMA published a notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER (attached) seeking applicants representing tribal governments to serve on the National Advisory Council (NAC). The NAC advises the Administrator of FEMA on all aspects of emergency management and is comprised of representatives from state, tribal and local governments as well as the private sector. Applications are due by March 22, 2013.
Implementation of Stafford Act Amendments
On January 29, 2013, the President enacted PL 113-2, which amended the Stafford Act to empower tribes to directly petition the President for a declaration on an emergency or major disaster. FEMA is engaging in consultation with tribes in order to establish a pilot program for managing these requests right away. Data from the pilot program and future consultations will help shape the final implementing regulations but in the meantime, FEMA is eager to set up interim guidelines as soon as possible. In fact, since January 29, 2013, two tribes have already directly requested and received disaster declarations: the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Navajo Nation.
In the attached FEDERAL REGISTER notice, FEMA provides an explanation of how current regulations apply to state governors experiencing emergencies or major disasters. FEMA then asks tribes for specific comments on each part of the process, seeking to tailor the pilot program to the unique conditions that tribes may face. Topics are as follows:
• Types of Declarations and Assistance
• Preliminary Damage Assessments
• Timelines and Requirements to Submit Declaration Requests
• Other Needs Assistance Administrative Plan Requirement for Individuals and Households Program
• Mitigation Plan Requirement
• Public Assistance
• Estimated Cost of the Assistance
• Localized Impacts
• Insurance Coverage in Force
• Hazard Mitigation
• Recent Multiple Disasters
• Programs of Other Federal Assistance
• Individual Assistance
• Concentration of Damages, Trauma and Special Populations
• Voluntary Agency Assistance
• Designating Areas Eligible for Assistance, Definition of Tribal Lands
• Cost Share Adjustments
• Notification of State and Tribes
• Disaster Unemployment Assistance
• Disaster Legal Services
National Advisory Council
The NAC provides the FEMA Administrator with input on the revision and development of the national preparedness goal, the national preparedness system, the National Incident Management System, the National Response Framework and other related topics. The NAC meets in person three times a year with teleconferences interspersed throughout the year. Members serve for three-year terms and turnover is staggered. The spot for a Tribal Non-Elected Official will open on June 15, 2013. Additionally, there is currently a vacancy for a Tribal-Elected Official to serve out the remainder of the term that will expire on June 15, 2014.
Tribal input at each stage of the consultation and implementation process will be the key to developing final regulations that reaffirm tribal sovereignty and are responsive to the unique circumstances that tribes face. Please let us know if we may provide additional information regarding FEMA’s plans for the interim implementation of the Stafford Act amendments or assistance in preparing comments.