INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Hoosiers learned last week that you don't have to live by the ocean to feel the affects of a hurricane, after remnants of Hurricane Ike rolled through the state leaving severe flooding and wind damage in several Indiana counties.
Governor Daniels has declared a number of those counties State disaster areas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is accompanying state/local teams in joint preliminary damage assessments (PDA). The goal of the PDA is to determine if State and local response and recovery agencies can handle the situation with their own resources. If the assessment uncovers sufficient damage, the Governor may decide to request a presidential disaster declaration that would open the door for FEMA to assist in the recovery. Joint damage assessments began on Thursday, September 19.
"There is a process for these events that is set by law," said Stephen M. DeBlasio, Sr., FEMA federal coordinating officer. "FEMA cannot just come running in. Our participation must be requested by the Governor and then the President has to approve. The process takes time."
Presidential approval hinges upon the level to which the situation challenges State and local resources to respond and recover without federal assistance.
PDA teams usually include representatives from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS), FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the county/local emergency management agency.
In the case of Individual Assistance (for homeowners, renters and business owners), the teams are looking at a variety of factors, including:
- Extent of damage to primary residences and businesses
- Threat to public health and safety
- Number of people displaced (and for how long)
- Extent of insurance coverage
Also, anyone impacted by this event who has reported damage to state and local agencies, or other volunteer agencies, should be aware that this does not mean they are now registered with FEMA. Any damage reported at this point was for the purpose of helping State and local officials understand the level of damage by pinpointing impacted areas.
If a presidential disaster declaration is made, people will then be given instructions on how to register for federal assistance.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.