WASHINGTON - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate released the below statement following the President’s signing of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013, which includes a provision to amend the Stafford Act allowing Tribes direct access to federal disaster relief.
"FEMA has strong, long-standing relationships with Tribal governments, and they are essential members of the emergency management team. We commend the efforts of Members of Congress, Tribal leadership and their organizations, the Department of Homeland Security, and the President who have made this change a reality. This legislative change to the Stafford Act will provide federally recognized Tribal governments the option to choose whether to make a request directly to the President for an emergency or major disaster declaration, or to receive assistance, as they do presently, through a declaration for a State. This amendment to the Stafford Act follows on the President's commitments to Indian Country, strengthens the government to government relationship between FEMA and federally recognized Tribes, and will enhance the way FEMA supports Tribal communities before, during, and after disasters.”
Fully implementing this historic provision will require consultation with Tribes and other stakeholders, particularly as FEMA develops the administrative and programmatic requirements and procedures necessary to execute the law. FEMA will provide interim guidance in the coming weeks explaining how and when Tribal governments may seek declarations, while more comprehensive consultations and administrative procedures are undertaken.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.