The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and FEMA recently made history. On March 7th, FEMA’s Regional Administrator and the Tribe’s Principal Chief signed a FEMA-Tribal agreement marking the first ever presidential disaster declaration for a Tribal government.
The tribe became the first to make a request following severe weather in mid-January that caused flooding across tribal lands. President Obama issued the declaration March 1st.
Chief Michell Hicks told Regional Administrator Phil May, “Fortunately, we are the first recipient and unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of damage. We’ve always had a great relationship with our State, and obviously we’ve had a great relationship with you guys also, but it does seem to make it a little easier to go directly to the potential funding opportunity.”
FEMA’s Region IV team is working directly with the EBCI’s Tribal Coordinating Officer, Mollie Grant, to move funds to the tribe so repairs can be made. More than a half-dozen Tribal departments are working with FEMA in the recovery effort.