PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Experts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) took the first step Friday in helping two tribes pay for coping with summer monsoon flooding.
In briefings Friday at the Gila River Indian Community in Sacaton, Ariz., and Tohono O'odham Nation in Sells, Ariz., the FEMA team explained the process for the tribal organizations to be reimbursed for 75 percent of their costs of recovering from monsoon storm flooding between July, 25, 2006, and Aug. 4, 2006.
Tribal organizations deal directly with the federal government for disaster assistance, which requires that each sign an agreement with the federal government. FEMA assistance to state, county and local governments goes through the state. The state of Arizona already has signed its federal agreement. Pinal and Pima counties and the two tribes were designated as federal major disaster areas in a declaration signed Sept. 7, 2006, by President Bush.
James Calacal, public assistance officer for the FEMA team dedicated to the Arizona monsoon disaster, told the tribes that veteran coordinators under his command will work directly with officials at tribal facilities to prepare their applications. In initial estimates, both tribes are seeking only reimbursement for extraordinary personnel and equipment costs to protect their citizens during the storms. Other categories eligible for reimbursement may be identified during the FEMA public assistance process.
Larry Sommers, FEMA's deputy federal coordinating officer for the Arizona disaster, told Tohono O'odham officials Friday, "FEMA will make sure the tribe gets the maximum amount of recovery assistance possible." He gave that assurance to tribal leaders at the Gila River Indian Community headquarters earlier in the week.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.