Comment Period on FEMA Disaster Declaration To Close

Sunday, Aug. 31, is the deadline for comments to FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, on a policy carrying out a law that would allow tribes to request emergency and major disaster declarations.

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As it is now, only state governors can request a federal disaster declaration. Tribes had requested the change saying it would save time if they didn’t have to wait for state action when they’re often the only governmental entity in the area.

Ken Murphy, director of FEMA region ten, which includes Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, says requests for disaster declarations do have strings attached:

“hazard mitigation plan.”

FEMA in most cases only pays for 75 percent of the disaster and the government, in this case the tribal government, would be responsible for 25% of the cost. And then, some of the paperwork that’s required, such as having an emergency operations plan, or a hazard mitigation plan, are a part of the disaster declaration process.

Some tribes have already suggested that the criteria be changed to accommodate smaller tribes.

A summary of comments received as of August 8th is available at the FEMA website. The agency is accepting comments electronically at its website through Sunday.