Region 10 Tribal Consultation Call - Tuesday, April 5, 2013 Time: 2:00 PM Pacific

Main Content

Subject:  Emergencies and Major Disaster Declarations Request

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 objection you may disconnect. Now I'd like to turn the call over to the regional tribal liaison, Lucianne Phillips, Region 10 Tribal Liaison. Miss Phillips, you may begin.

Lucianne Phillips:  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 tribal declarations. Please know that I am here to work with you, not only for information about the listing sessions, but on all other matters. Today I will be the facilitator for the call.

Some quick housekeeping notes, we will not be taking a role call today as the operator has captured a list of the participants on the call. As the operator mentioned, this call will be recorded and as the recording 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 any other interested tribal members or other stakeholders, their thoughts, comments, concerns about FEMA's implementation of tribal declarations.

Excuse me. Comments you provide today will form the development of pilot guidance which will be issued, or 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 management services and coordination response to his current position. As the Oregon emergency manager director from 2003 to 2010, Mr. Murphy was responsible for coordinating activities with state, local, private sectors and tribal emergency services agencies to develop and implement all hazard 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 a past president of the national emergency management association, NEMA. During his term 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 - to allow you the opportunity to provide comments. At the end of that comment period the operator will then close the line and we will move to the next topic. You may also provide written comments through the following venues.

The federal register docket notice, FEMA-2013-006, document #201305391, or on FEMA's online collaboration site, which is fema.ideascale.com, or the tribal email, tribalconsultation, all one word, at FEMA.DHS.gov. These references were also in the notices for this call, so you can have them there, or you can contact me and I'll be happy to give them to you again. We will now hear from Regional Administrator Murphy.

Kenneth Murphy:  Thank you very much, Lucianne, and good afternoon, everyone. My name is Ken Murphy. On Tuesday January 29th, 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 for a state.

The passage of this provision is a clear demonstration of the importance that 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 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's administrator's three core principles regarding tribes. One, federally recognized tribal governments are sovereign governments. The Stafford Act now clearly reflects federally recognized tribal governments' status as sovereign nations, giving them the same status as states when requesting federal disaster assistance. Number two, FEMA has a government to government relationship with federally recognized tribal governments, and number 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 tribal 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 and informing the development of the pilot guidance. Remember that you may also provide your written comments at the federal register or the idea scale and at the email box tribalconsultation@ FEMA.DHS.gov. I'll turn it back now to Lucianne Phillips.

Lucianne Phillips:  Thank you very much, Mr. Murphy. We will now hear a quick overview of the Stafford Act change from (Dave Smith), Region 10 Regional Counsel.

Dave Smith: As regional administrator Ken Murphy mentioned, the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act 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 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 that a major disaster or emergency exists, consistent with the requirements listed in Stafford Act Section 401 covering major disasters, and 501 covering emergencies. The amendment allows Indian tribal governments to be eligible to receive assistance through a state declaration, so long as the Indian tribal government does not receive a 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 now be read to include tribal governments, and in the instances of governor or state should be read to include the chief executive Indian tribal government. It also requires FEMA to consider the unique conditions that affect the general welfare of Indian tribal governments when implementing this new authority. I'll toss this back to you, Lucianne.

Lucianne Phillips:  Thank you very much, (Dave Smith). So now we're going to talk - let's hear information about the declarations and disaster assistance, and I call on Jean Channey, deputy director of the recovery division of FEMA Region 10.

Jean Channey: Thank you, Lucianne. 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 the state or tribe is overwhelmed and response to the event is beyond the state or 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 in his discretion may determine that the situation warrants supplemental assistance under the Stafford Act and make the declaration.

Tribal governments can request either emergency declarations or major disaster declarations. Emergency 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 a catastrophe. A major disaster declaration may provide a wider range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including both funds for both emergency and permanent work required as a result of a natural catastrophe, or regardless of cause, fire, flood, or explosion.

The following are the requirements for declaration requests. It must be submitted by the chief executive of a federally recognized tribal government. It must be submitted within 30 days of the incident. Within 30 days of the date of the incident, the chief executive may submit a written request for additional time. Such request must provide the reason for the delay. The basis for the request shall be a finding that 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 confirmation that appropriate action under tribal government law has been taken, and the execution of the tribe's emergency plan has been directed as applicable. The request must include an estimate of the amount and severity of the damages and losses, stating the impact of the disaster on public and private sectors. It must also include information describing the nature and amount of tribal government resources which have been or will be committed to alleviate the results of the disaster.

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

The tribe must comply with grant administrative requirements and must also have public assistance, hazard mitigation grant programs and/or other needs assistance administrative plans. More information on these requirements can be found at www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation. Lucianne?

Lucianne Phillips:  Thank you very much, Jean Channey. Now we will open it up for comments, from tribal representatives for input regarding disaster assistance and declarations. Operator?

Operator: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, that is star 1 if you'd like to ask a question or make a comment. Again, that's star 1. We have nobody queued up at this time.

Lucianne Phillips:  All right, thank you very much. We will now hear an overview of individual assistance criteria from Jean Channey and then open it up for comments by tribal governments. Jean?

Jean Channey: Thank you, Lucianne. Individual assistance is assistance to individuals and households. The individual assistance programs can provide disaster housing which provides grants for rental assistance and/or home repairs. This is 100% federally funded. Other needs assistance, which provides grants for the replacement of personal property, transportation, medical, dental, and funeral expenses.

The Stafford Act sets the cost share for other needs assistance cost at 75% federal and 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 state requests individual assistance, FEMA uses the following criteria to determine whether federal assistance is needed. These are the current procedures as developed for the states.

We need your input to modify the requirements to fit tribal government needs. First, concentration of damages. FEMA evaluates the concentration of damages to individuals. High concentration of damages generally indicate a greater need for federal assistance than widespread and scattered damages throughout a state. Number two is trauma. FEMA considers the degree of trauma to the communities. Some conditions that may cause trauma are large numbers of injuries or deaths, large scale disruption of normal community functions and services, and emergency needs such as extended or widespread loss of power or water.

Three, special populations - FEMA considers whether special populations such as low income, the elderly, or the unemployed are affected, and whether they may have a greater need for assistance. Four, voluntary agency assistance. FEMA considers the extent to which voluntary agencies and state or local programs meet the needs of the disaster survivors. Number five, insurance - FEMA considers the 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 damages, trauma, special populations, voluntary agency assistance, and insurance - are appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating a tribal government request for individual assistance. FEMA is interested to hear what criteria you think should be used to evaluate state requests for individual assistance. FEMA also welcomes comments on whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for considering when evaluating tribal government requests for individual assistance. Lucianne?

Lucianne Phillips:  Thank you very much, Jean Channey. Operator, we'll now open it up for comments from tribal representatives regarding individual assistance.

Operator: Thank you, ma'am. That is star 1 again if you'd like to make a comment or ask a question. Ladies and gentlemen, that is star 1. It looks like we have none at this time.

Lucianne Phillips:  All right, thank you very much, operator. Now we'll hear an overview on public assistance criteria from Jean Channey again. And we'll open it up for comments afterwards. Jean?

Jean Channey: Thank you, Lucianne. Public assistance is assistance to state, tribal, and local governments and certain private non-profit organizations for emergency work and repair or replacement of disaster damaged facilities. The Stafford Act sets the cost share for public 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 state request includes public assistance, FEMA uses the following criteria to make a recommendation to the President whether assistance is warranted. We need your input to modify the requirements to fit tribal government needs. Number one, insurance coverage in force. For states, FEMA considers the amount of insurance coverage that is in force or should have been in force as required by law and regulation at the time of the disaster.

Two, hazard mitigation. FEMA also considers the extent to which state and local government mitigation measures contributed to the reduction of disaster damages for the disaster under consideration. Number three, recent multiple disasters. FEMA evaluates the 12-month disaster history to better understand the overall impact on the state or locality. FEMA considers declarations under 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.

Number four, programs of other federal assistance. FEMA also considers the programs of other federal agencies because at times their programs of assistance might more appropriately meet the needs created by the disaster. Number five, localized impacts. FEMA evaluates the impact of the disaster at the county and local government levels, as well as the impact on American Indian and Alaskan Native tribal government levels.

This is because at times there are extraordinary concentrations of damages 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 localized per capita impacts might be extremely high. Number six, estimated cost of the assistance - many of you may know this as the public assistance per capita indicator and the $1 million minimum.

FEMA evaluates the estimated cost of public assistance against the statewide population. This provides a sense of proportional impact on the population of the state. For events occurring in fiscal year 2013, we use a figure of $1.37 per capita as an indicator that the disaster is of such size that it might warrant federal assistance. This number is adjusted annually based on the consumer price index. FEMA has also established a minimum of $1 million in public assistance estimated damages per disaster, based on the belief that we can reasonably expect even the 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, hazard mitigation, recent multiple disasters, programs of other federal assistance, and the estimated cost of assistance, are appropriate for the evaluation of the tribal government requests for tribal public assistance.

We would like to hear your thoughts on whether tribal government requests should be based on damage per capita. We would like to hear your thoughts on whether tribal governments 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 for the request for public assistance.

FEMA also welcomes comments on whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating the level of impact and tribal governments' capability to respond and recover from an event for public assistance. Lucianne?

Lucianne Phillips:  Thank you, Jean. Operator, we'll now open it up for comments from tribal representatives regarding public assistance.

Operator: Certainly, ma'am. Again, ladies and gentlemen, that is star 1 if you'd like to make a comment. Again that is star 1. We will pause for just a moment. It looks like we have none at this time.

Lucianne Phillips:  Thank you, operator. Then we'll move to discuss mitigation plan requirements. I will call upon Mark Carey, Region 10 Mitigation Director, to provide an overview. Mr. Carey?

Mark Carey:  Thank you, Lucianne. Mitigation is really best described as the effort that reduces loss of life and property by lessening the impacts of the disasters. In terms of timing, mitigation is about taking action now, certainly before the next disaster strikes, in order to reduce human and financial consequences experienced later. Hazard mitigation planning is really the process tribal governments use to identify risk and vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters and then develop long term strategies for protecting their people and property from future hazard events.

Mitigation plans also help tribes meet grant eligibility requirements for several other FEMA grant programs. The Stafford Act requires Indian tribal governments to have a pre-FEMA-approved mitigation plan as a condition of a receipt of hazard mitigation assistance. Other assistance programs impacted include the public assistance program categories C through G, who are otherwise referred to as permanent work, and the more project specific hazard mitigation grant program. The tribal mitigation plan outlines processes for identifying the natural hazards, risks, and vulnerabilities of the area as well as specific actions to reduce losses from future disasters.

Tribes with an approved hazard 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 federal regulations for a tribal mitigation plan. Once they're approved, they're valid for five years, and when FEMA approves a tribal plan, then the tribe will then be eligible for direct grantee status. If the tribe also coordinates with the state for 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 subgrantee status for each program under the Presidential disaster declaration. For those tribes that don't have a FEMA-approved mitigation plan, FEMA allows 30 days from the date of the declaration for the tribe to submit to FEMA an approved or an approvable mitigation plan. Under the hazard mitigation grant program only, the FEMA regional administrator may grant an exception to tribal mitigation plan requirements in extraordinary circumstances such as in a small and impoverished community where justification is provided and the tribe is interested in sub-grantee status for that disaster.

In these cases, a plan can be completed within 12 months or a year of a specific project grant award. We've got a couple of pieces of guidance on our Web site to assist you in hazard mitigation planning. I can provide both if at your request, and we do have a specific one for tribal mitigation planning. The question is, understanding that the mitigation planning process is most effective before a disaster, FEMA welcomes your feedback on whether 30 days is an appropriate amount of time for a tribal government to submit an approved or an approvable tribal mitigation plan during the pilot program.

Lastly FEMA also welcomes comments on whether there are circumstances that may prevent a tribal government from submitting a tribal mitigation plan or a request for an extension within this time. With that I'll hand it back to Lucianne.

Lucianne Phillips:  Thank you very much, Mark Carey. Operator, we'll now open it up for comments from tribal representatives regarding the mitigation plan requirement. Operator?

Operator: Thank you, and once again ladies and gentlemen, that is star 1 if you'd like to ask a question. That is star 1 - or make a comment. And we have none at this time.

Lucianne Phillips:  Thank you, operator. We will now discuss cost share adjustments and we will hear from Greg Roe, Grants Management Specialist.

Greg Roe: 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 an adjustment to the federal cost share. FEMA will recommend the President adjust the cost share from 75% to not more than 90% when actual federal obligations under the Stafford Act meet or exceed $133 per capita of the 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. And now we'll go back to Lucianne.

Lucianne Phillips:  Thank you very much, Greg Roe. Operator, we'll open it up for comments from tribal representatives regarding cost share adjustments. Operator?

Operator: Thank you. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, star 1 if you'd like to make a comment. Again, that's star 1. And we have none at this time.

Lucianne Phillips:  Thank you, operator. Now we'll open it up for questions and comments from tribal representatives on any topic related to the implementation of the Stafford Act changes for tribes. Operator?

Operator: Thank you. And ladies and gentlemen, that is star 1 if you'd like to ask a question or make a comment. Once again that is star 1. And again as a final reminder that is star 1 if you'd like to ask a question. Looks like we have none at this time.

Lucianne Phillips:  Thank you, operator. Well, I appreciate everyone calling in and participating on this Region 10 consultation call. 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. The deadline to provide your input on the implementation of tribal declarations is April 22, so do not forget to submit your written comments to the following venues.

First of all, the federal register notice, secondly FEMA's online collaboration site, fema.ideascale.com, or the email inbox, tribalconsultation, all one word, at FEMA.DHS.gov, or you can contact me for the references. I'll now turn it over to regional administrator Murphy.

Kenneth Murphy:  Thank you, Lucianne, and thanks to everyone on the telephone today for your time, and we look forward to continuing to grow FEMA's relationship with tribal leaders, emergency managers, and disaster recovery subject matter experts. And again, thank you. Operator?

Operator: Thank you. This does conclude today's conference call. Thank you for your participation. You may disconnect your lines at this time.

END

Last Updated: 
04/10/2013 - 09:24