Region 1 Tribal Consultation Call - Friday, April 12, 2013, 1:00pm Eastern

Main Content

Subject:  Emergencies and Major Disaster Declarations

Operator:             Please stand by. We're about to begin. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode until the comment portion of the call. If you'd like to provide a comment at that time, please press star then 1 on your touchtone phone.

                              Today's conference is being recorded. If you have any objection, you may disconnect. Now I'd like to turn the call over to your FEMA Region 1 Tribal Liaison Bruce Brodoff. Please go ahead sir.

Bruce Brodoff:     Thank you very much Operator, and good afternoon everyone. Welcome to the Region 1 Consultation Conference Call. I want to thank you all for taking the time to call in today to share your input on the implementation of tribal declarations.

                              The purpose of today's call is to hear from tribal leaders, tribal emergency managers, disaster recovery subject matter experts and other interested tribal members or partners. We'd also like to capture your thoughts, comments and concerns about FEMA's implementation of tribal major disaster and emergency declarations.

                              This is just the beginning of the consultation process and the open comment period running through April 22, 2013. Comments you provide will be a foundation for the development of the pilot guidance, which will be used to create the final regulations.

                              Just have a couple of quick housekeeping notes. We will not be taking a roll call today as the Operator has captured a list of participants on today's call. As the Operator mentioned, this call will be recorded and a record of this meeting will be posted on the FEMA Website, fema.gov/tribal/consultation.

                              Any of the emails that -- or Web addresses that I mention I can email to everybody as I've done previously. I'll do it again at the conclusion of the call. FEMA is not soliciting or accepting consensus advice or recommendations on federal laws, regulations or policies during this meeting.

                              Rather the purpose of this meeting is to gather individual input from a diverse group of partners. Today you will hear from Region 1's Acting Regional Administrator, Paul Ford, who joins FEMA as a Natural Hazards Program Specialist in the Mitigation Division in 1992.

                              Paul has served on many disaster assignments over the past 21 years, including Hurricane Andrew, the 1993 Midwest floods and numerous events in New England, including Hurricane Irene, Super Storm Sandy and the recent blizzards.

                              Paul has served as the Deputy Regional Administrator for the region since 2007 and as the Acting Regional Administrator since September 2012. Paul holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Worcester State College and a Master's Degree in Business Administration from Anna Maria College. He is also a certified Floodplain Manager.

                              Mr. Ford will be followed by subject matter experts on the Stafford Act, the declaration process, disaster assistance, individual assistance, public assistance, hazard mitigation and assistance and cross share criteria.

                              After a brief description of each agenda topic, the Operator will open the lines, provide approximately ten minutes for you to provide comments. The Operator will then close the line, and we will move on to the next topic.

                              Given the number of participants on the line and the number of time we have for each topic, we ask you to limit your comments to allow others the opportunity to provide their input. You may also provide written comments in a number of ways, which again I'll email you later this afternoon and we will now hear from Paul Ford, Region 1 Acting Regional Administrator.

Paul Ford:            Thank you very much Bruce. Good afternoon everyone. As Bruce said, my name is Paul Ford, and I'm the Acting Regional Administrate for FEMA Region 1, which covers Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.

                              I just want to briefly go over some of things that have gotten - that have taken place that have brought us to where we are today. As Bruce said, this is an important initiative as you move forward and this is just the beginning of the process.

                              On Tuesday, January 29, 2013 President Obama signed the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013, which included a provision amending the Stafford Act to provide federally recognized tribal governments the option to choose whether to make a request directly to the President or a federal emergency or major disaster declaration or seek as they had done previously under a state for a declaration request.

                              The enactment of this provision is a clear demonstration of the importance that tribe leadership and their governments are in our nation. It follows on the President's commitment to Indian country, strengthens the government-to-government relationship between FEMA and the federally recognized tribal government and will enhance the way that FEMA supports tribal communities during, before and after disasters.

                              We commend the efforts of the Tribal leadership and the representatives and their organization who have made this change a reality. The amendment reflects the FEMA administrators three core principles regarding tribal government.

                              One, federally recognized tribal governments are sovereign governments. The Stafford Act now clearly reflects federally recognized tribal government status as sovereign nations and gives them the same status as states when they request a federal disaster assistance.

                              Two, FEMA has a government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribal government, and three, tribal governments shall determine the best way for them to address their disaster needs. The Stafford Act amendment now gives tribal governments the choice to request declarations on their own, but tribal governments are not required to make a request on their own.

                              The tribe may continue to seek assistance through the state's request if they choose. The legislation does not require tribal governments to change their relationship with states, but states cannot direct tribal governments to make a request on their own or require tribal governments to be included in the state's request.

                              The tribe makes that determination. This is a substantial change to the Stafford Act. Changing the Stafford Act to recognize tribal sovereignty is just the beginning. Through this consultation process we will hear from you tribal leaders, tribal emergency managers and disaster recovery subject matter experts regarding the items FEMA should consider as we develop pilot guidance for the implementation of tribal declaration.

                              We appreciate your participating in today's call and informing the development of the pilot guidance. Remember that you may also provide your written comments at the federal register and idea scale at the email of tribalconsultation@fema.dhs.gov, and I'm sure that Bruce will go over that address again.

                              I think again my closing comment before I turn it back to Bruce is that this is as stated and what I just read the beginning of the process. It's something that has been coming for a long period of time.

                              We in the regions really appreciate the efforts that you have made to push this forward and we also really appreciate the fact that administrative (unintelligible) has taken this upon his administration and the administration of President Obama to be able to push this forward. So with that I'll turn it back to Bruce.

Bruce Brodoff:     Thank you Paul. Our speakers today that are coming up, they're going to describe specific aspects of the program as applied to states and territories. We need your input to modify the requirements to fit tribal government needs. We will now hear a quick overview of the Stafford Act change from Jennifer Carlisle of the Deputy Regional Council.

Jennifer Carlisle: Good afternoon. As the Regional Administrator mentioned, the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act included a provision amending the Stafford Act to provide federally recognized tribal governments the options to choose whether to make a request directly to the U.S. President for a federal emergency or major disaster declaration or to seek assistance as they did previously under a declaration request by a state.

                              Specifically the amendment permits the chief executive of an affected tribal government to submit a request to the President for a declaration that a major disaster or emergency exists, consistent with the requirements listed in Stafford Section 401 for major disasters and 501 emergencies.

                              The amendment allows tribal governments to be eligible to receive assistance through a state declaration so long as the tribal government does not receive a separate declaration for the same incident.

                              The President has the authority to waive or adjust the cost share for public assistance and the amendment specifies that references to any combination of state and local in the Stafford Act should be read to include tribal governments and in instances of government - Governor of state should also be read to include chief executive tribal government as appropriate.

                              FEMA's required to consider the unique conditions that affect the general welfare of tribal governments when implementing this new authority. That's an overview of the Stafford Act change, and now I'll turn it back to Bruce Brodoff.

Bruce Brodoff:     Thanks Jennifer. We will now hear a quick overview of declarations tribes may request and assistance that may be made available. We will now hear from Robert Grimley, the Director of Regional 1's Recovery Division about the declarations and disaster assistance process.

Robert Grimley:  Good afternoon everyone. Stafford Act assistance is intended to supplement state tribal and local resources. The federal government will only provide supplemental disaster assistance under the Stafford Act when the state or tribe is overwhelmed and response to the event is beyond the state or the tribe's capability to respond.

                              Upon receiving a request for a declaration, FEMA assesses the impact of the event and makes a recommendation to the President. The President at his discretion may determine that the situation warrants supplemental assistance under the Stafford Act and make a declaration. Excuse me.

                              Tribal governments can request the following types of declarations, emergency declarations. These declarations are to supplement state and local efforts to save and protect lives, property, public health and safety or to lessen or avert the threat of catastrophe.

                              Major disaster declarations may provide a wider range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work required as a result of natural catastrophe or regardless of cause of fire, flood or explosion.

                              The following are requirements for a declaration request. The request must be submitted by the chief executive of a federally recognized tribal government. The request must be submitted within 30 days of the date of the incident.

                              Within 30 days of the date of the incident the chief executive may submit a written request for additional time. Such requests must provide the reasons why for the delay. The basis for the request shall be a finding that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that the effective response is beyond the capabilities of the tribe and the federal assistance is necessary.

                              The requestor must also include confirmation that the appropriate action under tribal government law has been taken and the execution of the tribe's emergency plan has been directed as applicable.

                              An estimate of the amount of severity of damages and losses stating the impact of the disaster on the public and private sector. Information describing the nature and the amount of tribal government resources, which have been or will be committed to alleviate the results of the disaster.

                              Preliminary estimates based on joint FEMA, tribal preliminary damage assessments of the types and the amounts of supplementary federal disaster assistance needed under the Stafford Act and a certification that that tribe will meet all applicable cost share requirements.

                              If the hazard mitigation grant program or permanent work under the public assistance program, tribe must have FEMA approved or approvable mitigation plan within 30 days of the date of the declaration, must also comply with grant and administrative requirements, must also have public assistance, hazard mitigation grant program and, or other needs administrative plans.

                              More information on these requirements can be found at www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation. With that I'll turn it over to Bruce Brodoff for comments.

Bruce Brodoff:     Thank you very much Robert. Operator we will now open it up to comments, first from tribal executives. When you provide your input, if you would please identify your name, title and affiliation before you ask the question or provide comments. Operator, can we now have those instructions?

Operator:             Thank you. If you would like to make a good comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your touchtone phone. You will be prompted to record your first and last name. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you record.

                              One moment please to allow them time to queue up. And once again that is star 1 to prompt for comments and questions. Once again that is star 1. There are no further questions in the phone.

Bruce Brodoff:     Okay. Thank you Operator. We will now hear an overview of individual assistance criteria, again from Robert Grimley our Director of Region 1's Recovery Division and then we'll open it up for comments on tribal governments. Here's Robert Grimley.

Robert Grimley:  Types of FEMA disaster assistance that may be available by a major disaster declarations are the following, individual assistance. This is assistance to individuals and households. The individual assistance programs can provide disaster housing, which provides grant for rental assistance and, or home repairs.

                              This is 100% federally funded. Other needs assistance which provides grants, replacement of personal property, transportation, medical, dental and funeral expenses. The Stafford Act sets a cost share for other needs assistance at 75% federal to 25% non-federal.

                              The Stafford Act does not give the President authority to waive the other needs assistance cost share. All other individual assistance programs have no cost share. Currently when a major disaster request includes individual assistance, FEMA uses the following criteria to determine whether federal assistance is needed.

                              These are the current procedures as developed for states. We need your input to modify the requirements to fit tribal government's needs. Concentration of the damages, FEMA evaluates a concentration of damages to individuals.

                              High concentration of damages generally indicate a greater need for federal assistance when widespread and scattered damages throughout the state or the tribal area. Trauma, FEMA considers a degree of trauma to the communities.

                              Some of the conditions that might cause trauma are the following, large numbers of injuries of deaths, large scale disruption of normal community functions and services and emergency needs such as extended or widespread loss of power or water.

                              Special populations, FEMA considers whether special populations such as low income or the elderly or the unemployed are affected and whether they have a greater need for assistance. Voluntary agency assistance, FEMA considers the extent to which voluntary agencies and state or local programs meet the needs of the disaster survivors.

                              And insurance, FEMA considers a most amount of insurance coverage because by law federal disaster assistance cannot duplicate insurance coverage. FEMA is soliciting comments on whether these individual assistance factors, concentration of damage, trauma, special populations, voluntary agency assistance and insurance are appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating a tribal government's request for individual assistance.

                              FEMA also welcomes comments on whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating tribal government requests for individual assistance.

                              The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act also includes a provision which directed FEMA to "reveal, update or revise the factors considered when evaluating a state's request for major disaster declaration authorizing individual assistance."

                              FEMA is required to revise these criteria in order to provide more objective criteria for evaluating a need for assistance for individuals to clarify the threshold for eligibility and to speed up the declaration of a major disaster or emergency.

                              FEMA is interested to hear criteria you think should be used to evaluate state requests for individual assistance. I will turn it back over to Bruce Brodoff.

Bruce Brodoff:     Thanks again Robert. Operator, we will now open it up to comments, first from tribal executives. Again, when you provide your input please give your name, title, affiliation before you ask. Operator, can we have those instructions?

Operator:             Thank you. If you would like to make a comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your touchtone phone. You will be prompted to record your first and last name. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you record.

                              Once again we'll pause for just a moment to allow everyone a chance to signal for questions and that's star 1. And as a reminder that's star 1 for comments. We'll go to our first caller. Please state your first and last name.

John Peters:         John Peters.

Operator:             Your line is open.

John Peters:         Hello. This is John Peters. I guess in designating the area that would be eligible for assistance, would that area need to be described in the management plan? Would that need to be federally trust property or an area that is designated for the - where the major tribal population resides?

Jennifer Carlisle: Hi. This is Jennifer Carlisle, the Assistant Regional Council. Those are great questions, and we'll make sure that these comments all get shared with the FEMA staff that are putting together the implementing regulations, but at this time we wouldn't be able to tell you how the new policy will be implemented precisely, but we'll recommend that they consider those factors.

John Peters:         Okay. Thank you.

Operator:             And once again that's star 1 to ask a question or give a comment. And we have no further comments in the queue at this time.

Bruce Brodoff:     Okay. Thank you Operator. We will now hear an overview of public assistance criteria from our Director of Region 1's Recovery Division, Robert Grimley, and again we'll open it up for comment from tribal governments.

Robert Grimley:  Hello again. Public assistance is assistance the state, tribal and local governments and certain private, nonprofit organizations for emergency work and repair or replacement of disaster damaged facilities.

                              The Stafford Act sets the cost share proposed assistance at not less than 75%. The Stafford Act gives the President the authority to waive or adjust the cost share for public assistance. Currently, when a major disaster request includes public assistance FEMA uses the following criteria to make a recommendation to the President whether or not assistance is warranted.

                              These are the current procedures and - as developed for the states. We need your input to modify the requirements to fit tribal government needs. Insurance coverage in force, for states' requests, FEMA considers the amount of insurance coverage that is enforced or should be enforced as required by law and regulation at the time of the disaster.

                              As a mitigation, FEMA also considers the extent to which a state and local government's mitigation measures contribute to the reduction of assessed damages for the disaster under consideration. Multiple - recent multiple disasters, FEMA evaluates the 12-month disaster history to better understand the overall impact on the state or locality.

                              FEMA considers declarations on the Stafford Act as well as declarations made by the Governor and the extent to which the state has spent its own funds on those disasters. FEMA also considers the programs of other federal agencies because at times their programs of assistance might be more appropriate to meet the needs created by the disaster.

                              Localized impacts, FEMA evaluates the impacts of the disaster at the county and local government level as well as the impacts on Native Indian and Alaskan Native Tribal government levels. This is because at times there are extraordinary concentrations of damage that might warrant federal assistance even if the statewide per capita is not met.

                              This is particularly true in situations where critical facilities are involved or where a localized per capita impacts might be extremely high. Estimated cost of assistance, many of you know that this is - as the public assistance per capita indicator and a $1 million minimum.

                              FEMA evaluates the estimated cost of public assistance against the statewide population. This provides a sense of the proportional impact on the population and a state. Prevents occurring in fiscal year 2013 we use the figure of $1.37 per capita as an indicator that the disaster is such size in that might warrant federal assistance.

                              This number's adjusted annual based on the consumer price index. FEMA's also established a minimum $1 million in public assistance as an estimate damages per disaster based on the belief that we can reasonably expect that even in least populated states to cover this level of public assistance damage.

                              We would like to hear from you whether these factors, localized impacts, insurance coverage in force, has a mitigation, recent multiple disasters, programs of other federal assistance and estimated cost of assistance appropriate for the evaluation of tribal governments' request for public assistance.

                              We would like to hear your thoughts on where the tribal government's request should be evaluated based on damages per capita. We'd also like to hear your thoughts on whether a tribal government should be expected to cover a level of damage and whether there should be a similar minimum damage threshold for tribal governments as that applied to states' request for public assistance.

                              FEMA also welcomes comments whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating the level of impact and tribal government's capability to respond and recover from an event for public assistance. Now I'll turn it back to Bruce for comments.

Bruce Brodoff:     Thanks again Robert. Operator, we will now open it up to comments, first from tribal executives and again when you do provide your input, please identify your name, title and affiliation before you provide your comment. So Operator, can we have those instructions?

Operator:             Thank you. Once again if you would like to ask a comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your touchtone phone. You'll be prompted to state your first and last name and affiliation. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you state your name.

                              Once again that's star 1. And we'll take our first questioner. Please go ahead.

Jaimey
Romanoff:            Jaimey Romanoff, good afternoon. I have a question regarding the FEMA established minimum $1 million in public assistance estimated damage per disaster. Do tribes, if they use the state, that $1 million isn't a cumulative amount where if we do declare independently would the tribal government also have to have that $1 million level?

 

Jennifer
Carlisle:                Hi. This is Jennifer Carlisle, the Assistant Regional Council. This is your opportunity to weigh in on whether you feel that $1 million amount if the state does its own declaration is a reasonable amount. It is true.

                              If you were to be included in the state's declaration then the state's $1 million threshold would apply to the tribe whereas if the tribe applies for a declaration separately there would be a different amount whether it's $1 million or a lesser amount is to be determined, so this is your opportunity to weigh in on whether you think the $1 million is reasonable.

Jaimey
Romanoff:            Is there a formula that you used that you came up with the $1 million because really I mean I think every tribe is significantly different in their size and membership, so is there some kind of formula that you can throw out there that we could use to make decision?

Paul Ford:            This is Paul Ford and I'm not sure to answer the question but at least to comment back on question is that the threshold of $1 million was established for states prior to the tribal declaration process being put in place, so I think that the important thing here is if you, and your comments are very poignant.

                              If you feel that there should be a mechanism or an algorithm that should be used or if there shouldn't an algorithm to be used if this is the opportunity for you to comment and say that because depending upon the size of the tribal nation, depending upon the, you know, the government structure of the tribal organization it may be not feasible to be at that $1 million threshold.

                              So I think that in terms of the comment this is the time that you should make those comments and I think as I said, your comments are certainly poignant.

Andrew
Verraneault:        Andrew Verraneault, Mashantucket Tribe, Tribal Nation Emergency Manager. My question or I should say concern is in regards to Jaimey Romanoff's comment about the $1 million threshold. Due to high deductibles and other issues, $1 million threshold may be way too high, so I think that's something that we need to look at and come up with a formula.

Paul Ford:            I think you're right, and I think that would be an opportunity for you to put together something that would identify one that you're concerned and then if you had some possible thoughts as to how you felt it would be better implemented, we certainly would be interested in hearing that as well.

Andrew
Verraneault:        We'll work on that because that is definitely of a concern.

Paul Ford:            Great. That's perfect.

Jaimey
Romanoff:            Thank you.

Andrew
Verraneault:        I do have one other question. Am I still on the line?

Bruce Brodoff:     Yes.

Andrew
Verraneault:        In regard to if the tribe went directly for assistance with the federal government, I'm going to use an example of MREs and water and type of stuff. I understand that we're supposed to be 72 hours compliant versus federal government versus the state. Is there a delay on getting resources from the federal government that we may benefit from utilizing the state versus that or is that something you cannot answer?

Paul Ford:            I can give you an answer to that question in a general sense but not specific to a tribe. When things are made available, they're made available because those commodities are either here in the region and we have access to them, but it would not slow the process as far as I know in terms of if we had a commodity that was available we would make it available to anybody that would need that commodity.

                              And if we didn't have it in the region, the only delay that we would have would be in the amount of time it would take to get the commodity here from wherever I was located.

Andrew
Verraneault:        Yes, that would really change anyway because if it's available within the state of Connecticut for an example then it would be available to the tribal nation.

Paul Ford:            Yes.

Andrew
Verraneault:        That answers my questions. I appreciate your help.

Paul Ford:            No problem.

Operator:             And we'll take our next question. Caller your line is open.

John Peters:         This is John Peters. I just wanted to make a statement about the threshold is that tribes don't generally have a tax base as a state does to have money available to do those type of things, but I think that consideration needs to be taken into consideration.

Paul Ford:            John this is Paul Ford. I would agree with you wholeheartedly, and I think that those are the kinds of things that will be helpful to us in terms of making a determination. If that information can be passed on in terms of comments that come from these types of calls, then I think that's all the stuff that we would want to look at and make determinations because as I said from the very beginning, this is the beginning of the process.

                              It's not something that we have that certainly has any legs to it. It's something that is just beginning the process, so I think the best way for us to do this is although I think sometimes these calls can be a little bit tedious in terms of the dialogue that's given out.

                              I think this is the kind of stuff that's really helpful to us because I think the agency and the administration clearly wants to get it right, so I think if we can gather those comments together and put them together and I identify just what you do, you know, tax base, things that don't allow for them to be, you know, in a position where they could afford the million dollar issue.  I think those are the kind of things we want to make sure that we capture here.

John Peters:         Okay, so what are you saying? I should make written comments or are [leads] being taken up in this conversation.

Paul Ford:            I think it's both, but I think that you should and Bruce will talk about it again, that there is an email address that all the comments should be sent to that I mentioned earlier that Bruce will talk about again, but it's tribalconsultation@fema.dhs.gov, so I think anybody who has comments or concerns should clearly articulate them here on the call but also put them in writing as well.

John Peters:         Okay.

Bruce Brodoff:     And again I'll provide that at the end of the call also as a separate email to you all as well. Are there anymore - I'm sorry. Operator, anymore comments?

Operator:             We have no further comments in the queue at this time.

Bruce Brodoff:     Okay, thank you Operator. We will now hear a brief overview of hazard mitigation assistance from (Richard Berbill). He's our Assistant Branch Chief for Hazard Mitigation. Then we're going to open it up for comments to tribal governments.

 

(Richard
Berbill):                Thanks Bruce. Good afternoon everyone. The Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program provides assistance to states, tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for actions taken to prevent or reduce long term risks to life and property from natural hazards.

                              The Stafford Act allows the President to contribute up to 75% of the cost for hazard mitigation. Total mitigation funding for disasters based on a percentage, up to 15% of the total obligations for the disaster and to clarify, that's what's spent in public assistance program and the individual assistance program, okay.

                              Let me emphasize, if requesting the hazard mitigation grant program or permanent work under the public assistance program, the tribe must have a FEMA approved or approvable mitigation plan within 30 days of the date of the declaration.

                              FEMA welcomes comments on whether 30 days is an appropriate amount of time of tribal governments to submit an approved or approvable tribal mitigation plan during the pilot program. FEMA also welcomes comments on whether there are circumstances that may prevent tribal governments from submitting a tribal mitigation plan or a request for an extension within this timeframe. With that I'll turn it back to Bruce for comments.

Bruce Brodoff:     Thank you very much Richard. Operator, we will now open it up again for comments, first for tribal executives. When you provide your input, again if you could please give your name, title and affiliation before you ask. Operator, can we have those instructions?

Operator:             Thank you. Once again if you would like to make a comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your touchtone telephone. We ask that you state your first and last name with your affiliation and please check that your mute function is unmuted before you state your question. Once again that's star 1 and we'll go to our first comment.

Joel Merritz:       Hi. My name is Joel Merritz. I am affiliated with the Penobscot Nation up here in New England and I think something that is very important that needs to be mentioned is none of my Native American friends are even aware of this conference and I'm sure they would have a lot of input.

                              From what I understood from what I just heard, you're looking at a 30 day expectation for tribes to come up with some type of emergency mitigation. Personally, given the fact that they don't have the information that I just became aware of a few minutes ago, I think that is an unreasonably short time period for them to be able to coordinate something especially when I don't think these tribes probably know that this is a requirement. That's pretty much my comment. Thank you.

Paul Ford:            This is Paul Ford, and we appreciate very much the comment and just to clarify. I just want to make sure that I think that what Richard was talking about up here is that the mitigation piece of a disaster declaration which is the 15% of the total cost minus the admin cost where they're available for mitigation efforts in a post-disaster environment.

                              He was talking about those funds are only available if you have an approved or an approvable mitigation plan and what he was saying is that the plan needs to be in place as of now within 30 days and I that what he also said was is this is an opportunity to comment on that. We've captured your comment.

                              We understand what you're saying in terms of the unreasonableness of the time frame, and we'll make sure that one, that we have that in our comment section but I also would encourage you to as I said and as Bruce will say as well, to go to that tribalconsultation@fema.dhs.gov and make that comment so that it's included as we move forward to try to make this as best we possibly can for tribal nation.

Woman:                Hi.

Joel Merritz:       Okay and I can do that, and I'm also as rapidly as possible will try to get the word out to my Native American friends who our associated directly with tribal leadership because I'm very confident they were not aware of this, and without their input I don't know if an effective plan really could be put forward.

Paul Ford:            Understood.

Bruce Brodoff:     Well we did reach out to all of the tribal leaders in the region with the appropriate leaders within each tribe. We also have a national conference call coming up on the 18th. I believe there are some other regional calls that are going to be done in the next few days or a week or so that they could also call in on and listen in, so there will be some opportunity as well.

Joel Merritz:       Okay, you know, as long as provided that this is something they're all there and aware of, I think that's a critical point. That was more or less what I was trying to get al.

Bruce Brodoff:     Okay, yes. The invitations went out quite a few times over the last couple of weeks.

Joel Merritz:       Okay. Great. All right. Thank you very much.

Jennifer
Carlisle:                Just to add one clarification about the hazard mitigation plan, that is not something that is specific to a disaster. It's specific to the tribe or the state and to a local government and so your hazard mitigation plan ideally would be put in place before a disaster occurs and that way you're eligible for that mitigation funding.

                              But in the chance that you did not already have a mitigation plan in place, the regulations provide 30 days to get one put in place after that declaration, so that's meant to give you a little bit of flexibility. The ideal though is that every tribe who thinks they might want to be a grantee or have a declaration should start working right now if they don't already have one to put together a hazard mitigation plan.

Joel Merritz:       Right, right, and I understand that, but unfortunately I also understand how some tribes, organizations work, and that's why I was a little concerned about the 30 day limit. Myself personally I would think a 45 day limit might be in some cases more applicable because sometimes it's when you've got groups of people spread out over large areas it may be difficult for them, especially where if it's communications they don't have Internet.

                              They don't have the ability to join together as a force in one local place. It takes time to build these things. I'm sure you understand that.

Jennifer
Carlisle:                Absolutely and thank you for that comment.

Joel Merritz:       Okay, you're welcome. Unless there's any other questions that's all I have.

Bruce Brodoff:     Okay Operator is there anybody else like to make a comment?

Operator:             Once again it's star 1 if you'd like to make a comment. And we'll take our next comment.

Frank Gavigan:   Hi This is Frank Gavigan from Mohegan Tribe Public Safety. I just wanted to comment on this particular point. The main problem that I see is perhaps two fold. One, at this point there's a lack of training presently in place throughout Indian country in dealing with FEMA regulations concerning disasters and the requirements they would put on a grantee.

                              And the second is that in many cases, while states have a robust level of staffing with which to gather and put this information together, tribes are somewhat constrained in the amount of man hours they can devote to it and would of course in that respect need I believe a larger window of time to accomplish this same end.

Jennifer
Carlisle:                Thank you. I think that's a very good point.

Paul Ford:            And as I said, this is Paul Ford again, as I said at the beginning this is the beginning of this process, so I think that, you know, I think there's a learning curve certainly for us to be able to be in a position where we can better respond to these types of issues.

                              I think it's a reflection on what the need is and the need in this call is that any information that we can receive or comments or concerns or questions that we can receive will hopefully at the end of the day as we move through this pilot process make this a better process for everybody and that certainly is a, you know, a justifiable concern on your part for sure.

Bruce Brodoff:     And there are training opportunities through EMI. I know I've sent some information out over the months to the tribes, but I'll - I'm sorry. Oh yes, free training, so I will, you know, do more research and send out more information to everybody for upcoming training. Operator, anymore comments?

Operator:             We have no further comments at this time.

Bruce Brodoff:     Okay Operator. Now that we've heard some background on FEMA's declaration process, disaster assistance and the change to the Stafford Act, we will now hear about cost share criteria from Robert Grimley, Director of Region 1's Recovery Division and then we'll again open it up to comments from tribal governments. Here's Robert Grimley.

Robert Grimley:  As previously discussed, most types of disaster assistance provide private under the Stafford Act have non-federal cost share requirements. The Stafford Act sets the cost share of other needs assistance as 75% federal to 25% non-federal. The Stafford Act sets federal cost share for public assistance at not less than 75%.

                              The Stafford Act allows the President to contribute up to 75% of the cost of hazard mitigation. The President may only adjust the non-federal cost share for public assistance. The discretion to adjust or waive the non-federal cost share rests solely with the President.

                              FEMA's regulations outline the criteria FEMA uses to recommend to the President whether an adjustment to the federal cost share is warranted. Currently, FEMA will recommend the President adjust the federal cost share from 75% to not more than 90% when actual federal obligations of the Stafford Act meet or exceed $133 per capita of the state population.

                              This number is adjusted annually for inflation. In making this recommendation, FEMA may also consider the impact of major disaster declarations in the state during the previous 12 months. FEMA is soliciting comments on whether the per capita threshold used for states would be appropriate for evaluating whether to recommend a cost share adjustment for tribal declarations.

                              FEMA also welcomes comments on what other factors may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating potential cost share adjustments for tribal declarations. I'll turn it back over the Bruce.

Bruce Brodoff:     Thank you very much Robert for all your information. Operator we will now open it up to comments, first from tribal executives. Again, when you provide your input, please give your name, title and affiliation before you ask. Operator can we have those instructions?

Operator:             Thank you. As a friendly reminder, if you would like to make a comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your touchtone phone. You will be prompted to state your first and last name. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you state it. Once again we'll pause for just a moment to allow everyone an opportunity to signal. And once again it's star 1 to state a comment. And we have no comments at this time.

Bruce Brodoff:     Okay. Thank you Operator. I'd just also like to confirm to everybody that the verbal comments in this call will be adjudicated to the federal register notice and the transcription of this call is submitted for those purposes, so it will be part of the official record. And I'd like to now move to the part of the agenda where we hear from you in the open forum.

                              This is where we ask tribal leaders, governors, chiefs, chairs or other executive members to hear their voices, input and concerns. Operator, we will now open it up to comments, first from tribal executives and again if you could please provide your name, title and affiliation before you ask. Operator, can we have those instructions?

Operator:             Thank you. If you would like to make a comment or provide input please press star then 1 on your touchtone phone. Once you are prompted, please state your first and last name and your affiliation before asking your question.

                              Please check that your mute function is turned off to allow your signal to reach our equipment. Again, press star 1, and we'll pause for just a moment to allow everyone an opportunity to signal for questions. And once again that is star 1 to ask - to send a comment. And we have no further comments in the queue at this time.

Bruce Brodoff:     Okay, thank you very much Operator. I'd now like to introduce our region's Federal Coordinating Officers, so our FCOs. FCOs are appointed by the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on behalf of the President to coordinate federal assistance to states and tribal nations affected by disaster or emergency.

                              Nick Russo, Mark Landry, and Albie Lewis are the FCOs in the region, and I'd like to give them the opportunity to introduce themselves and say a few words about the work they do and the assistance the FCOs can provide to tribal nations during declared disasters, so I'd like to introduce FCO Nick Russo.

Nick Russo:          Thanks Bruce. Good afternoon folks. As Bruce said, my name is Nick Russo and I am one of the three Federal Coordinating Officers assigned to Region 1 and very briefly Bruce has pretty much described what our mission is.

                              But more distinctly it's once the President signs off on a declaration regardless of whether that is a state declaration or a tribal declaration under the new guidelines, a Federal Coordinating Officer is assigned to that declaration and has responsibility for the oversight of the federal forces that are applied against that disaster and the delivery of all Stafford Act assistance to that tribal leadership.

                              And so it's our role to work very closely with tribal leadership in that instance to make sure that all the requirements and the needs are being met and we're using the federal government to its full force to make sure all the eligible programmatic issues and the tribal issues are being met and that you're satisfied that the support you are receiving is super well received and all your requirements are being met.

                              And that really in a nutshell is our mission, so if and when that happens, we will look forward to working with you and Bruce I'll pass it off to my colleagues Mark and Albie.

Bruce Brodoff:     Excellent.

Albie Lewis:         Hey, thanks Nick. This is Albie Lewis here in Connecticut. I'm currently assigned for Super Storm Sandy 4087 and of course 4106, the snow storm. First and foremost I just want to say that working with Andrew with Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and Frank with Mohegan Tribe has been very successful and I appreciate the work and relationship that we've had.

                              And also as I have in the past, I want to just again extend the invitation to visit here at the joint field office in Windsor, Connecticut while we're here and if we can close the loop on any questions through that I'd be happy to do that. Thank you.

Mark Landry:      Good afternoon folks. This is Mark Landry. I also appreciate the opportunity along with my colleagues Nick and Albie. Nick and Albie and myself, we're the boots on the ground. We're the face of FEMA and we're all emergency management professionals and Nick has a background at the local level leadership in the fire industry.

                              And Albie, of course has state government experience and as well as with the National Guard in Vermont, myself a 30 year background with the United States Coast Guard. We all consider ourselves very survivor-focused, boots on the ground, people that are there to assist you in working through many complex regulations to the benefit of you and the survivors.

                              So on behalf of my colleagues and the FCO cadre I welcome the opportunity to work with you very much in the future. That's all I've got. Thank you.

Bruce Brodoff:     Okay, thank you FCO Russo and Lewis and FCO Landry for that information. I would like to conclude this FEMA Tribal Consultation Engagement Conference Call, turn it over to our Acting Regional Administrator Paul Ford for the final remarks. Here's Paul Ford.

Paul Ford:            Thanks Bruce very much. Thank you for participating in the Region 1 Consultation Call. As Bruce had indicated before that the transcript of this call will be posted on www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation in the next few days. The consultation site also includes important background information on declarations and disaster assistance.

                              We thank you for your time and we look forward to advancing FEMA's relationship with tribal leaders, emergency management and disaster recovery subject matter experts. I think that, you know, although this was the first call that we had, I think that it was a benefit certainly to us.

                              Hopefully it was of benefit to you, and I guess I would - my last closing comment before I turn it back to Bruce would be anything that you get from this that you feel that we should be doing, better that would be serve your nations better, please make sure that you capture that and get it to us so that we can probably vet these things through and work through this process.

                              FEMA's been pretty adept at putting pilot processes, pilot programs together. This is the first time that we've ventured into this arena, and I think it's very important that we do it right as we go forward and we can't do it right unless we have, you know, the proper engagement from the tribal side of the house. So I think that's really, really important and thanks very much. And with that I'll turn it back to Bruce.

Bruce Brodoff:     Okay. Thank you very much Mr. Ford. Just want to let everybody know that the deadline to provide input on the implementation of tribal declarations is April 22, 2013, so there are a number of ways to submit your written comments. I'll email all that information, but just for the record we'll read off all of the ways that you can provide your information.

                              There's the federal register notice. It's posted at http://federalregister.gov/a/20130-05391 and that's for federal registered notice docket ID. The ID number's FEMA-2013-00006, document number 2013/05391.

                              You could also go on FEMA's online collaboration site which is http://fema.ideascale.com. The email inbox again is tribalconsultation@fema.dhs.gov and we also have a postal mailing address if you'd like to send a letter. That's Regulatory Affairs Division, Office of Chief Council, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Room 835, 500 C Street SW and then that's Washington, D.C. 20472-3100.

Operator:             Pardon the interruption. We have one final comment.

Bruce Brodoff:     Okay.

Andrew
Verraneault:        My comment is, Andrew Verraneault again here. I really had more of a question. Is - if let's say Mashantucket declared a state of disaster or emergency through the President. I'm assuming we're assigned a Federal Coordinating Officer.

Paul Ford:            Yes. It's Paul Ford answering the question, and I can't see that we would change the way we would do our protocol for every disaster that we've had as long as I've been with the agency. I wouldn't think it would be any different, but yes we would do that.

                              There is maybe a likelihood that the FCO would cover more than one area because in all likelihood it would be probably a state as well as the tribal nation that would be declared, so you may have the same FCO but the FCO would serve the tribal needs and the state needs. I'll give you an example.

                              Nick Russo who spoke earlier is currently the Federal Coordinating Officer and he's serving as Federal Coordinating Officer for the (Calenda) declaration in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and in Maine.

                              So a lot of times when a disaster isn't huge we're able to use the resources because as you can well imagine with Sandy down in the New York, New Jersey area and in Connecticut a lot of the FCOs are currently engaged otherwise. So the answer to your question is yes, you would have an FCO and in some circumstances the FCO might cover more than one area.

Andrew
Verraneault:        One other question I have is under the FEMA agreement, is this per occurrence you have to fill out the form or would it be for basically if you wanted to become a grantee? Would you have to do it once or every incident or disaster?

Jennifer
Carlisle:                The FEMA Tribal Agreement would have to be for every disaster declaration because it is the agreement of the tribe to the terms of the declaration and the support by the federal government and that is disaster specific.

Andrew
Verraneault:        Thank you. I thought that was the case. I just wanted to confirm it.

Jennifer
Carlisle:                No problem.

Bruce Brodoff:     Are there anymore comments?

Operator:             We have no further comments.

Bruce Brodoff:     Okay. Thank you. Well at this time I'd like to thank everybody for their participation. Again, I can reach to everybody and provide all that information, the addresses, the email, the Websites and emails addresses where you can send in any other additional comments. So thank you everybody and have a good afternoon.

Operator:             This does conclude today's conference call. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect your line.

 

END

Last Updated: 
04/16/2013 - 17:44