Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced the release of the final version of the Tribal Declarations Pilot Guidance and the beginning of the pilot phase of tribal declarations under this new guidance.
The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act, signed into law in 2013, amended the Stafford Act to provide federally recognized Indian tribal governments the option to make their own request for a Presidential emergency or major disaster declaration independently of a state, or to seek assistance through a declaration requested by the state.
The pilot guidance describes the process tribal governments will use to request Stafford Act declarations and the criteria FEMA will use to evaluate direct tribal declaration requests and make recommendations to the President.
The pilot guidance incorporates key changes that are responsive to the comments FEMA received from tribes. These changes include the establishment of the minimum damage amount to be considered for public assistance to $250,000; the addition of historic preservation as a demographic factor that may influence the impacts of a disaster; expansion of eligibility under the individuals and households program to include non-enrolled tribal community members, when requested by the tribal government; and modifying and adding definitions of terms.
The Pilot Guidance can be found online at https://www.fema.gov/tribal-declarations-pilot-guidance.