PHOENIX, Ariz. -- A formal agreement between the Tohono O'odham Nation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been signed this week, clearing the path for federal disaster aid to help Tohono O'odham communities recover from last summer's monsoons.
The signing is a step in the process so that FEMA aid can be released to the Tohono O'odham Nation to help reimburse the cost of monsoon-related debris removal and emergency protective services.
The agreement was signed for the Tohono O'odham Nation by Chairwoman Vivian Juan-Saunders. James Calacal, federal coordinating officer who oversees the disaster recovery, signed for FEMA.
"This agreement is an important milestone in our partnership with FEMA," said Juan-Saunders.
"This signing completes the legal requirements so that the U. S. federal government and the Tohono O'odham tribal government can work together to recover from the monsoon floods," Calacal said.
On Sept. 7, President Bush signed a disaster declaration for parts of Arizona hit hard by storms between July 25 and Aug. 4. The declaration made the Tohono O'odham Nation eligible for aid from FEMA's Public Assistance Program.
FEMA personnel has worked with Tohono O'odham staff on a government-to-government basis to review disaster recovery projects. FEMA covers 75 percent of an eligible project's cost, with the Tohono O'odham Nation providing the remaining 25 percent.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and effectively manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003 .