Subject: Emergencies and Major Disaster Declarations Request
Telephone Operator: Please stand by. 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 touch-tone telephone. Today's conference is being recorded. If you have any objections you may disconnect now. At this time I would like to turn the conference over to the regional tribal liaison; please go ahead.
Lucianne Phillips: Thank you very much operator. Good afternoon everyone and thank you so much for joining us today. Welcome to the Region 10 Consultation Conference Call. I want to thank you all for taking time to call in today to share your input on the implementation of the tribal declaration. Please note that I'm here to work with you not only for information about listening sessions, but on all other matters. Today I will be the facilitator for the call. Some quick housekeeping notes; we will not be taking role call today as the operator has captured a list of the participants on today's call. As the operator mentioned this call will be recorded and as the record of this meeting it will be posted on www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation. The purpose of today's meeting is to hear from tribal leaders and tribal emergency management and disaster recovery, subject matter experts and other interested tribal members or other stakeholders; their thoughts, comments and concerns about FEMA's implementation of tribal declaration. The comments you provide today will form the development of pilot guidance which will be used until regulations are finalized. 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 10 Regional Administrator Kenneth Murphy. Mr. Murphy brings an extensive background in emergency services and coordinated response to his current position. As the Oregon Emergency Management Director from 2003 to 2010 Mr. Murphy was responsible for coordinating activities with state, local, private sector and tribal emergency service agencies to develop and implement all-hazards disaster preparedness and homeland security programs to serve the citizens of Oregon. Mr. Murphy spent nearly three decades as a member of the Oregon Army National Guard in traditional and active duty roles. He is the past president of the National Emergency Management Association, NEMA. During his time as president of NEMA Mr. Murphy held meetings and started the process of expanding mutual aid compacts between the United States and Canada and continued this process to include Mexico. Mr. Murphy will be followed by other speakers on factors FEMA uses to evaluate the need for public assistance, individual assistance, mitigation plans and cost-share adjustments. After a brief description of each agenda topic the operator will open the line to provide about 20 minutes for you to provide comments. The operator will then close the line and we will move to the next topic.
Given the number of participants on the line we ask that you limit your comments to about three minutes to allow those others interested to provide input. You may also provide your written comments to the following venues; the Federal Register Notice, docket ID FEMA-2013-006, document number 20130591; FEMA's online collaboration site, fema.ideascale.com and email inbox email@example.com. If you have any questions about these sites please contact me and I'll gladly give them to you again. We will now hear from Regional Administrator Murphy.
Kenneth Murphy: Thank you very much Lucianne. Good afternoon everyone; my name is Ken Murphy. 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 Indian tribal governments the option to choose whether to make a request directly to the president for a federal emergency or major disaster declaration or to seek assistance as they did previously under a declaration or a state. The passage of this provision is a clear demonstration of the importance of tribal leadership and their governments are to our nation. It follows on the President's commitments to Indian country, strengthens the government to government relationship between FEMA and the federally recognized tribes and will enhance the way FEMA supports tribal communities before, during and after disasters. We commend the efforts of tribal leadership representatives and their organizations who have made this change a reality. The amendment reflects the FEMA administrator's three core principles regarding tribes; one, federally recognized tribal governments are sovereign governments. The Stafford Act now clearly reflects federally recognized tribal government status as sovereign nations giving them the same status as states when requesting federal disaster assistance. Two, FEMA has a government to government relationship with federally recognized tribal governments; and three, tribes self-determine the best way for them to address disasters. The Stafford Act amendment now gives tribes the choice to request declarations on their own, but tribes are not required to make a request on their own. The tribe may continue to seek assistance through a state's request if they choose. The legislation does not require tribes to change their relationship with the states, but states cannot tell tribes to make a request on their own or require tribes to be included in the state's request; the tribe makes that determination. This is a substantial change to the Stafford Act and changing the Stafford Act to recognize tribal sovereignty was just the beginning. Through consultation we will hear from tribal leaders, tribal emergency management and the disaster recovery subject matter experts what items you think FEMA should consider as we develop pilot guidance to implement tribal declarations in advance of the development of these regulations. We appreciate you participating on today's call and informing the development of the pilot guidance. Remember that you may also provide your written comments at the Federal Register, the IdeaScale and at the email box, firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll turn it back now to Lucianne.
Lucianne Phillips: Thank you Mr. Murphy. We will now hear a quick overview of the Stafford Act change from Catlin O'Halloran, Assistant Regional Counsel.
Catlin O'Halloran: Thank you Lucianne. As Regional Administrator Murphy mentioned, the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act included a provision amending the Stafford Act to provide federally recognized Indian tribal government the option to choose whether to make a request directly to the President for a federal emergency or major disaster declaration or to seek assistance as they did previously under a declaration for a state. Specifically the amendment permits the Chief Executive of an affected Indian tribal government to submit a request to the President for a declaration if a major disaster or emergency exists consistent with the requirements listed in the Stafford Act, Section 401 under major disasters and Section 501 pertaining to emergencies. The amendment allows Indian tribal governments to be eligible to receive assistance through a state declaration so long as the tribal government does not receive separate declaration for the same incident. The President may also waive or adjust the cost-share for public assistance. The amendment clarifies that references to any combination of state and local in the Stafford Act should be read to include Indian tribal governments and in instances of governor or state the Stafford Act should also be read to include Chief Executive or Indian tribal government. Lastly the amendment required FEMA to consider the unique conditions that affect the general welfare of Indian tribal governments when implementing this new authority.
Lucianne Phillips: Thank you very much Catlin O'Halloran. Now we're going to hear about the overview of declarations and disaster assistance. Then we'll have time for comments. Then we'll go into some separate subjects of individual assistance, public assistance, mitigation plans and cost-share adjustments. So now we're going to hear about the overview of declarations and disaster assistance from Mr. Charles Axton, Director of the Recovery Division FEMA Region 10. Mr. Axton, you may proceed.
Charlie Axton: Thank you and good afternoon. This is overview of the declarations and disaster assistance. The 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 a state or tribe is overwhelmed in response to the event as beyond the state or tribe's capability to respond. Upon receiving a request for a declaration, FEMA assesses the impacts of the event and makes a recommendation to the President. The President in his discretion may determine that the situation warrants supplemental assistance out of the Stafford Act and make the declaration. There are two sides of declaration that the tribes can request; one is the emergency declaration which is intended to supplement state, tribal and local efforts to save lives, protect property, public health and safety or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe. The second type of declaration is a major disaster which may provide a wide arrange federal assistance program for individuals and families, public infrastructure and funds for both emergency and public works. Some of the requirements that go with a declaration regardless of type is the one that must be submitted by the Chief Executive of a federally recognized tribal government. It must be submitted within 30 days of the incident and there is a process for a time extension if warranted. The basis for the request shall be a finding of the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the tribe and that federal assistance is necessary. The request must also include a confirmation that appropriate action under tribal government law has been taken and the execution of the tribe's emergency plan has been directed. It must include an estimate of the amount of and the severity of damages or losses to the public and private sector and information describing the nature and amount of tribal government resources which have been or will be committed to alleviate the results of the disaster. Preliminary estimates based on a joint FEMA tribal preliminary damage assessments of the types and amount of supplemental federal assistance are needed and will such as a certification of the tribe will meet all applicable cost-share requirements. If requesting the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program -- and I know we'll hear about that later -- or permanent work, it must have a FEMA approved or approvable mitigation plan within 30 days of the date of the declaration as a requirement for compliance with grant requirements and must have other administrative plans such as public assistance, hazard mitigation Grant Program and other needs assistance under the individual assistance program. And for more information on these requirements please look for those at www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation. And with that, Lucy, I'll turn it back to you.
Lucianne Phillips: Thank you very much Charlie Axton. Operator will now open it up for comments about general disaster assistance and declarations. Operator?
Telephone Operator: Thank you. If you would like to make a comment or provide input on today's issue, please press star 1 on your touch-tone phone. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you signal for your question.
Once again if you do have a question or comment, it's star 1 now. We will take our first question from Lorianne Rawson from South Naknek.
Lorianne Rawson: Hi, this is Lorianne Rawson as the operator had indicated. Our understanding is that we need a mitigation plan first before we can utilize FEMA and in order to have the mitigation plan we first need to take courses, #580, 581 and 582. Is this all correct?
Mark Carey: This is Mark Carey, the Mitigation Division Director. You need the hazard mitigation plan as Mr. Axton explained to be eligible for permanent repair whether the public assistance program. So I think Charlie covered that a little bit when he explained what types of declarations are available including the emergency. FEMA does offer a variety of technical assistance and as well as the state and assisting you and preparing a hazard mitigation plan. I'll be talking a little later in this conversation about what types of assistance is available including online. I do recommend the training for the hazard mitigation planning preparation you mentioned; that's a good resource. But I'll be talking about a few things just a little bit later in the presentation.
Lorianne Rawson: Okay. Thank you.
Kenneth Murphy: Ma'am, this is Ken Murphy; Regional Administrator. I want to add to Mr. Carey's comment that in this and he'll mention this again; if you do choose to declare for disaster, right now FEMA allows 30 days from the date that you declare for the tribe to submit that plan. So you don't actually necessarily have to have one to make that declaration, but the clock begins moving and I can as a Regional Administrator grant exceptions to that. But we try and have that done within 30 days of the declaration.
Lorianne Rawson: Okay.
Kenneth Murphy: You bet.
Lorianne Rawson: Then to clarify, in order to have our mitigation plan, is it a requirement that we take Courses 580, 581 and 582?
Kenneth Murphy: Absolutely not a requirement.
Lorianne Rawson: Okay. Thank you.
Kenneth Murphy: And Mr. Carey will mention a couple of Web sites and they should be in the preliminary information that was already sent out to everybody. But it gives you some tools to put them together and you do not have to have the classes to complete it.
Telephone Operator: Mrs. Rawson, do you have anything further?
Lorianne Rawson: No. Thank you; that is it.
Telephone Operator: And at this time we have no further questions in the queue.
Lucianne Phillips: Thank you very much. This is Lucianne Phillips again and I just wanted to add one note Mrs. Rawson that the Courses 580, 581 and 582 are taught by the FEMA Emergency Management Institutes, the academic arm of FEMA. And these are - three classes are focused and specialized for tribal governments and things that you may confront or need in your disaster preparedness and planning. They are not requirements, but they are there as enhancements if you would like. And I would be happy to talk to you offline if you wish or you can go on the web to the Emergency Management Institute; you can even Google it and the full list of courses and schedules are available there. And I know the state of Alaska also has training.
We'll now go onto the next subject of individual assistance and I call Charlie Axton, Division Director of the Recovery Division of FEMA Region 10.
Charlie Axton: Hello; thanks again. And this will be a brief overview of the individual assistance program. The individual assistance program provides assistance to individuals, families and households including things such as disaster housing which can be grants for rental assistance and/or home repairs which is a 100% federally funded program. The other needs assistance program which can provide grants for replacement of personal property, transportation, medical, dental and certain funeral expenses which - and that program is set at a 75% federal, 25% non-federal cost-share. And that is a fixed cost-share percentage. Currently when a state request includes individual assistance we use the following criteria to determine whether federal assistance is needed; these are the current procedures at developer stage. And one of the things that we're looking for through these phone calls is to gather input to see how these can maybe be modified so the requirements fit the needs of tribal governments and in Alaska native villages. And there are six of these or five of these which the first one is concentration of damage. We evaluate the concentration of damages to individuals; high concentrations of damages generally indicate a greater need for federal assistance and widespread and scatter damages. Trauma, we consider the degree of trauma to the communities such as the large numbers of injuries or deaths, large scale disruption of normal community functions and services and emergency needs such as extended widespread loss of power or water. Special population such as low income populations, elderly or unemployed is a consideration. The availability of voluntary agency assistance; that's one of the things that we look at. And then lastly insurance; look at the types of insurance. If it's an insured loss, series of uninsured losses or a series of insured losses; these are important evaluation factors in FEMA and the recommendation that goes to the President. And again we were soliciting comments on one of these individual assistance factors are appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating a potential request from a tribe or an Alaska native village for individual assistance. But we also welcome comments on whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for us to consider when it comes to individual assistance. And Lucianne, back to you.
Lucianne Phillips: Thank you very much Charlie. Operator, we'll now open it up for comments about the individual assistance program.
Telephone Operator: Thank you. Once again if you do have a question or a comment, it's star 1 at this time. We'll go back to a follow-up from Lorianne Rawson.
Lorianne Rawson: Okay. The 25%, our tribe currently has absolutely no revenue. Our tribal unemployment is in excess of 90%. So the 25% for match from our tribe is virtually impossible.
Kenneth Murphy: Yes ma'am. This is Ken Murphy, the Regional Administrator. We've had some similar comments on some of our other calls and I think it's very important, you know, one, that you and your tribal leadership take the opportunity to make some recommendations in this process how there may be a better way of doing it or other types of considerations. We do have the ability to make considerations based on trauma to the community which part of that is unemployment and low income and those type of things. So but I would surely appreciate and encourage you if you have any other ideas or recommendations on how we might do something like this as we implement these rules or regulation; I'd appreciate it.
Lorianne Rawson: Okay. Thank you.
Kenneth Murphy: You bet. Thank you.
Telephone Operator: And at this time there are no further questions in the queue.
Lucianne Phillips: Thank you very much operator. We will now hear an overview of public assistance criteria from Charlie Axton and then again open it up for comments. Here's Charlie Axton.
Charlie Axton: Okay. Thanks again. This will be the last section I'll be covering which is the public assistance program which is assistance to state, tribal and local government and certain private, non-profit organizations for emergency work costs and repair or replacement of damaged public infrastructure. This is a cost-share that is set at not less than 75% and the law gives the President the authority to adjust that or even waive that cost-share requirement. Currently when a state request includes public assistance, FEMA uses the following criteria to make a recommendation to the President, whether assistance is warranted. A similar process as described for individuals; it's just different factors. And one of the things that again we're looking for is your input as to how this can address the needs for tribes; again for Alaska native villages. So a couple of the considerations with public assistance are insurance coverage; again whether insurance is generally available on the damaged public infrastructure or not; hazard mitigation, whether a community has engaged in hazard mitigation over the years and that's lessened the impacts of a disaster and what encouraged mitigation. So that'll be looked at in the recommendation to the President. Recent multiple disasters in the last 12 months to see if community has been affected multiple times; that's an important factor in considering whether Stafford Act assistance is available; whether other federal agency programs are available to address the needs of the community, the needs of the tribe. Localized impact, sometimes we see very concentrated impacts in a limited number of communities and that might affect how the recommendation is looked at. And finally, the estimated cost. For public assistance currently there's a minimum threshold for state of a million dollars and then beyond that there's kind of a broader state-wide look that is adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index. And for Fiscal Year 13 it's $1.37, 1.37 dollars and at per capita it's looked at that that's kind of a financial indicator to look at whether or not an event is beyond state capability or not. And these are just indicators; they're not necessarily thresholds. And we'd like to hear from you whether these factors are appropriate for the evaluation of tribal governments or some variation of those and for Alaskan native villages when it comes to requesting major disasters or emergencies that relate to public assistance. We would like to hear your thoughts on whether tribal government requests should be evaluated based on a damage per capita basis of kind of a financial per capita basis. We'd 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, has that applied to state requests for public assistance. And again we want to look to see if there are other factors that may be appropriate to consider when evaluating a level of impact and tribal government's capability of response to and recover from an event that might warrant public assistance. And that concludes my presentation. Back to you Lucianne.
Lucianne Phillips: Thank you very much Charlie. Operator, we'll now open it up for comments.
Telephone Operator: As a reminder, ladies and gentleman, it is star 1 at this time if you have a question or a comment. We'll pause for just a moment. And at this time we have no questions in the queue.
Lucianne Phillips: Thank you very much operator. So we've talked about general overview of the declaration process, individual assistance and public assistance. Now we will talk about mitigation plan requirements. The subject has come up already and we'll get some more detail. And I'll turn it over to Mark Carey, Region 10 Mitigation Director, to provide an overview.
Mark Carey: Thank you Lucianne. Mitigation can really best be described as the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impacts of disasters. In terms of time mitigation is about taking action now and not waiting for the next disaster to happen in order to reduce human and financial consequences experienced later on. Hazard mitigation planning is really the process the tribal governments use to identify their risks and vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters and then develop a long-term strategy for protecting their people and property from future hazard events. Mitigation plans also help tribes meet grant eligibility requirements for a variety of FEMA grant programs. The Stafford Act requires tribal governments to have a FEMA approved mitigation plan as a condition of receiving hazard mitigation assistance. Other assistance programs impacted include the public assistance programs, Categories C-G or commonly referred to as permanent work and the project specific hazard mitigation grant program. The tribal mitigation plan outlines a process for identifying the natural hazards, risks and vulnerabilities of that area as well as specific actions to reduce losses from future disasters. Tribes with an approved mitigation plan are eligible to receive up to 15% of the available funds under the hazard mitigation grant program. Tribal governments must meet the requirements under the code of federal regulations for a tribal plan. Once approved the plans are good for five years. And then once FEMA approves a tribal mitigation plan, the tribe will be eligible for a direct grantee status. However if the tribe also coordinates with the state on their plan review, then the tribe will also have the option to request sub-grantee status. This process is intended to promote flexibility for tribes to request either grantee or sub-grantee status for each program under the Presidential disaster declaration.
For tribes that do not have a FEMA approved mitigation plan as already Ken Murphy talked about, FEMA does allow 30 days from the date of the declaration for the tribe to submit to FEMA an approved or an approvable mitigation plan. For the hazard mitigation program only, the FEMA Regional Administrator may grant an exception to tribal mitigation plan requirements in extraordinary circumstances such as in small, impoverished communities when justification is provided and the tribe is interested in the sub-grantee status for that disaster. In these cases then the plan still must be completed within 12 months of when a project grant award. There are a couple of online reference guides available for hazard mitigation planning; one is related to mitigation planning guidance and another one is specifically related to tribal mitigation planning guidance, both of which I can provide as requested. My ending question is understanding that the mitigation planning process is most effective before a disaster. FEMA does welcome your feedback on whether 30 days is an appropriate amount of time for tribal governments to submit and approved or approvable mitigation plan during the pilot program. FEMA also welcomes comments on whether there are circumstances that may prevent a tribal government from submitting a mitigation plan or a request for an extension within this time frame. With that I'll hand it back to Lucianne. And thank you.
Lucianne Phillips: Thank you very much Mark Carey. Operator, we'll now open it up again for questions and comments.
Telephone Operator: Yes ma'am. As a reminder to the audience, it is star 1 at this time if you do have a question or a comment. We'll pause for just a moment. And at this time there are no questions in the queue.
Lucianne Phillips: Thank you very much operator. Now we'll talk about the cost-share adjustment. We will hear from our subject matter expert, Dorothy Townsend, Grants Management Specialist who will give us more information about cost-share. You may begin.
Dorothy Townsend: Thank you Lucianne. The Stafford Act directs FEMA to pay not less than 75% of the eligible costs for essential assistance repair, restoration and replacement of damaged facilities and debris removal. FEMA's regulations outline the criteria FEMA uses to recommend to the President and adjustment to the federal cost-share. FEMA will recommend the President adjust the federal cost-share from 75% to not more than 90% when actual federal obligations under the Stafford Act meet or exceed $133 per capita of state population. When recommending a cost-share adjustment to the President, FEMA also considers the impact of major disaster declarations in the state during the previous 12 months. FEMA would like your opinion on whether the per capita threshold used for states would be appropriate for evaluating whether to recommend a cost-share adjustment for tribal declarations during the pilot program. FEMA also welcomes comments on what other factors may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating potential cost-share adjustments for tribal declarations. Back to you Lucianne.
Lucianne Phillips: Thank you very much Dorothy Townsend. Operator, we'll now open it up to questions or comments about cost-share.
Telephone Operator: As a reminder it is star 1 if you have a question or a comment. We'll go back to a follow-up from Lorianne Rawson.
Lorianne Rawson: Oh sorry; that was for a previous comment I made earlier. So please disregard my request to speak.
Telephone Operator: At this time there are no questions in the queue.
Lucianne Phillips: All right, thank you operator. So we've discussed the general declaration process, individual assistance, public assistance, mitigation plans and cost-share adjustments. We'll now open up the call if there are any other comments on any other topic of interest whether we've covered it or not to see if there's any other interest in making comments now. So I'll turn it back to you operator.
Telephone Operator: And once again, it is star 1 if you have a question or comment. We'll move back to Lorianne Rawson.
Lorianne Rawson: My comment is about the comment period ending on April 22; I think that is too soon and I think that comment period should be extended.
Kenneth Murphy: Thank you. This is Ken Murphy for that comment. I do not have the power to change that, but we'll make that recommendation as these notes are also captured and recorded to our headquarters on that. But I appreciate that comment. Thank you.
Lorianne Rawson: Thank you.
Telephone Operator: And as a final reminder to our audience, it is star 1 now if you have a question or a comment. And there are no questions in the queue.
Lucianne Phillips: All right, thank you very much operator. And thank you all for participating in the Region 10 Consultation Call. The transcript of this call will be posted on www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation. The consultation site will also include important background information on declarations and disaster assistance. The deadline to provide your input on the implementation of tribal declarations is April 22, so do not forget to submit your comments to the following venues; through the Federal Register Notice, femaideascale.com and the email inbox email@example.com. I'll now turn it over to Administrator Murphy.
Kenneth Murphy: Thank you Lucianne. And I do appreciate everybody's time. And thank you for taking the time today and look forward to continuing to grow our relationships with tribal leaders, emergency managers and disaster recovery subject matter experts. Again, thank you for your time today. Operator?
Telephone Operator: This does conclude today's conference. Thank you all for your participation. You may now disconnect your lines at this time.