Region 10 Tribal Consultation Call - Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 2:00pm Pacific

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Subject:  Emergencies and Major Disaster Declarations Request

Telephone Operator:         Please stand by. Good day everyone and welcome to today's Tribal Listening Session. Today's conference is being recorded. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode until the comment portion of the call. If you would like to provide a comment at that time, please press star then 1 on your touchtone phone. And now I would like to turn the conference over to Lucianne Phillips. 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 the time to call in today to share your input on the implementation of Tribal Declaration. Please know that I'm here to work with you not only for information about the listening sessions but on all other matters. Today I will be the facilitator for the call. Quick housekeeping notes - we will not be taking a roll 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 for this meeting, 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 Declaration. Comments you provide today will inform 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 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 the 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. After a brief description of each 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 and the limited time we have for each topic, we ask that you limit your comments to three minutes to allow those interested to provide their input.

You may also provide written comments through the following venues - the Federal Register Notice Docket which is FEMA-2013-006 and the document number is 2013-05391. And on FEMA's Web site there is the FEMA online collaboration site which is fema.ideascale.com and the email inbox, tribalconsultation@fema.dhs.gov. And if you have questions about these contact points you're welcome to contact me afterwards and I will gladly give them to you in writing. Now we will her from Regional Administrator Murphy.

Kenneth Murphy:              Thank you Lucianne and 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 for a state. The passage of this provision is a clear demonstration of the importance the tribal leadership and their governments are to our nation. It follows on the President's commitments to the 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 of their organizations who have made these changes a reality. The amendment reflects the administrator's three core principles regarding tribes. One, federally recognized tribal governments or sovereign governments, and that 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 the federally recognized tribal governments. And three, tribes self determine the best way for them to address disasters. The Stafford Act Amendment now gives the 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 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 and tribal emergency management and 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 the 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 Idea Scale, and the email box, tribalconsultation@fema.dhs.gov.

 I will now turn it back to Lucianne Phillips.

Lucianne Phillips:              Thank you Mr. Murphy. We will now hear a quick overview of the Stafford Act change from David Smith, Regional Council.

David Smith:                       As the 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 from the state. 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 quote, state and local, in the Stafford Act should be read now to include Indian tribal governments. And in the instances of quote, governor or state references, they should also be amended to include Chief Executive or Indian tribal government. The amendment also requires FEMA to consider the unique conditions that affect the general welfare of Indian tribal governments when implementing this new authority.

I'll now toss it back to Lucianne.

Lucianne Phillips:   Thank you very much. Now we're going to hear an overview of declarations and disaster assistance. And I'll call upon Jean Chaney, Region 10 Deputy Director of the Recovery Division.

Jean Chaney:     Good afternoon. 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 the 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 recommendation to the President.

The President in his discretion may determine that the situation warrants supplemental assistance under the Stafford Act and may make the declaration. Tribal governments can request the following types of declarations - emergency declarations and 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 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. They must be submitted by the Chief Executive of a federally recognized tribal government. They must be submitted within 30 days of the date of the incident. Within those 30 days the Chief Executive may submit a written request for additional time. Such a request must provide reasons for the delay. Declaration requests also require the basis for the request to 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 disaster assistance is necessary. The request must 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. It must include an estimate of the amount and severity of damages and losses, stating the impact of the disaster on the public and private sector. It must 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. Preliminary damage assessment based on joint FEMA tribal preliminary damage estimates of the type and amount of supplementary federal assistance needed under the Stafford Act is also required, 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 all of the grant administration requirements and must have Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, and other needs assistance administrative plans. More information on these requirements can be found at www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation. With that I'll turn it back to the facilitator for comments.

Lucianne Phillips:              Thank you very much Jean Chaney. Operator, we'll now open it up to comments from tribal and group executives. And we look forward to hearing your comments. So operator, please give the instructions on how to make comments.

Telephone Operator:        Yes, if you would like to signal, please press star 1 on your telephone keypad. Please make sure your phone off mute to allow your signal to reach our equipment. Again that was star 1 to signal for a comment. We have no callers queued up. Again that was star 1 to signal. We'll pause again for a brief moment. And we have no comments at this time.

Lucianne Phillips:              All right thank you very much operator. And to our callers today, we're going to cover some other subjects and have the conversation for you. But also at the very end if there are - there will be an open period to talk about anything else. So, feel free to bring up other subjects at that point. So our first agenda item is about Individual Assistance. Again, Jean Chaney is the Deputy Director of the Recovery Division.

Jean Chaney:     Individual Assistance is assistance to individuals and households. The Individual Assistance Program 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 replacement of personal property, transportation, medical, dental, and funeral expenses. The Stafford Act sets the cost share for other needs assistance costs at 75% federal and 25% non-federal. The Stafford Act does not give the President the authority to waive the other needs assistance cost share. All other individual assistance programs have no cost share.

Currently, when a state request includes individual assistance, FEMA uses the following criteria to determine whether federal assistance is needed. These are the current procedures as developed for the state. We need your input to modify the requirements to fit tribal government needs.

Number one, concentration of damages - FEMA evaluates the concentration of damages to individuals. High concentrations of damages generally indicate a greater need for federal assistance than widespread and scattered damages through a state.

Number two, trauma - FEMA considers the degree of trauma to the communities. Some of the conditions that might 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 for the special populations such as low income, the elderly, or the unemployed are affected and whether they may have a greater need for assistance. Number 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 damage, trauma, special populations, voluntary agency assistance, and insurance are appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating a tribal government 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. Lucianne...

Lucianne Phillips:              Thank you very much Jean. Operator, we'll now open it up to comments from tribal executives about individual assistance.

Telephone Operator:         And once again, please signal by pressing star 1 on your telephone keypad. And we'll pause to allow everyone an opportunity. And we have no callers queued up at this time.

Lucianne Phillips:              Thank you very much operator. So we've covered individual assistance. We're now going to hear an overview of Public Assistance criteria from Jean Chaney and then open it up for comments.

 Please Jean, go ahead.

Jean Chaney:  Thank you Lucianne. Public Assistance is assistance to state, tribal, and local governments and certain private non-profit organizations for emergency work in the repair and 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 state requests FEMA considers the amount of insurance coverage that is in force for should have been in force as required by law and regulation at the time of the disaster. Two, is mitigation. FEMA also considers the extent to which state and local government mitigation measures contributed to the reduction of disaster damage for the disaster under consideration. Three, recent multiple disasters - FEMA evaluates 12 months disaster history to better understand the overall impact on state or local conditions. FEMA considers declarations under the Stafford Act as well as declarations made by the governor and the extent to which a 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 and assistance might more appropriately meet the needs created by the disaster. Number five, local ice impacts - FEMA evaluates the impact of the disaster at the county and local government level 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 assistance. Many of you may know this is a public assistance per capita indicator and a $1 million amendment. FEMA evaluates the estimated cost of Public Assistance against a 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 evaluation of tribal government requests for Public Assistance. We would like to hear your thoughts on whether tribal government requests should be evaluated based on the per capita damage. We would like to hear your thoughts on whether a tribal government should be expected to cover a level of damage, and whether it should be a similar minimum damage threshold for tribal governments as that applied to the states 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 government's capability to respond and recover from an event for Public Assistance. Lucianne...

Lucianne Phillips:              Thank you very much Jean. Operator, we'll now open up for comments from tribal representatives regarding Public Assistance.

Telephone Operator:         And again, if you have a comment, please press star 1 at this time. And please make sure your mute function is disabled to allow your signal to reach our equipment - star 1. And we do have a comment. We'll go to Brian Ridley.

Brian Ridley:     Yes. Forgive me if you've covered this already, but I do have a concern as the tribes maybe trying to declare a disaster in the future, the cost share requirement. I'm worried about a tribe's ability to put up whatever percentage is required. By my rough understanding of this it may be a 25% cost share which just off these numbers, I'm assuming at least at this point that it would be a $250,000 minimum and could be more, depending on the amount of damage. Can you speak to that briefly? Because I am worried about that. I know that there's a lot of excitement about this new ability to declare, but I'm worried about the financial capacity to be able to do that.

Kenneth Murphy:        Brian, this is Ken Murphy the regional administrator. Very good point and probably, you know, a very good one to ask you and other folks your thoughts and recommendations. What you said is correct. The 25% cost share - that's how it currently stands depending on certain situations. But this is where we would be - you know, we ask for your input on how this might be looked at differently from a per capita standpoint based on numbers of Native American Alaskans that are in a village or a community, whatever the case may be. And where it may not work in that case based on a current per capita figure, which was a $1.37, you know, right now in the 2013 timeframe. But you're absolutely right, you know, with most cases it's a 75% federal 25% cost share by the community or the grantee that's requesting the disaster or the tribal government. So we are looking for your recommendations on how that could be changed or might be changed based on some recommendation on whatever factors you think are relevant. Did that answer your question, Brian?

Brian Ridley:                      It does; I'm just curious, you know, what changes we might be able to make between now and whenever. You know, obviously if we can get that amount lowered, that would be great. One question that was kind of posed to me recently was that - I'm actually CFO for Tanana Chief Conference, but my own village of Eagle was wiped out in 2009. So as we talk about this I'm trying to think, "Okay, if this happened to my village -- or any other village in our region -- this year or next year, what is our ability - you know, how would we real-world work through this in a real scenario?" And that's what I'm wondering is - the question was posed to me, if a tribe in our region didn't have the financial capacity to be able to do this -- I guess obviously we'd be able to fall back on the state if we needed to -- but if the tribe then approached TCC for assistance to be able to do this, is that even possible? Because technically TCC isn't a tribe. And by no means do I want to step on the toes of the tribes that are out there in our region and circumvent the process and bypass them, I'm just saying if a tribe says, "Hey TCC" like we did in 2009 - they're looking for help for us to come in, is that even possible?

Kenneth Murphy:              Brian, Ken Murphy again and I would ask - we have the State of Alaska on board might help me here by missing technical details. Possibly, you know, the tribe could ask for a declaration and in that the grantee is allowed administrative costs to manage the disaster and that possibly could be used to pay for TCC to do some of the work to administer, you know, the grants and the different portions of the disaster. And as I understand it, TCC is a non-profit organization, so, you know that would work out in that case. But, you know, in the short term, they will probably -- as we go through this process of rule making and things of that nature -- they will do some pilot programs. The rules won't take effect right away once we get through this process, so those are the kind of questions, you know - and obviously the call's being recorded and I think that'll be an interesting question to see if we, you know - can that be done through TCC as a non-profit organization as one possible recommendation. So I think the answer is yes, but usually the details will have to be worked out.

Brian Ridley:                      Okay. Thank you.

Telephone Operator:         Okay, and we have no other callers queued up at this time.

Lucianne Phillips:              Thank you very much operator. And Brian, we're going to be discussing cost share a little further into the call, so if something else occurs to you, you're welcome to bring it up again. So now our third agenda item is the mitigation plan requirement. Today we're going to hear from Kristen Meyers, the Mitigation Planning Manager at FEMA Region 10.

Kristen Meyers:                  Thanks Lucianne. Now, mitigation is an effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. Mitigation is taking action now before the next disaster to reduce human and financial consequences later by analyzing risk, reducing risk, and insuring against risk. Hazard Mitigation planning is the process that Indian tribal governments use to identify risk and vulnerabilities associated with natural hazards and to develop long-term strategies for protecting people and property from future hazard events. Mitigation plans also help tribes meet grant eligibility requirements for FEMA - for FEMA grant programs. The Stafford Act requires Indian tribal governments to have a FEMA approved mitigation plan as a condition of receipt of hazard mitigation assistance. The assistance programs impacted also include the Public Assistance category C through G, prior management - prior management systems grants, and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. Tribal mitigation plan outlines the processes for identifying the natural hazards, risks, and vulnerabilities of the area as well as actions to reduce losses from future disasters. Tribes within the approved tribal mitigation plan are eligible to receive up to 15% of the available funds under the hazard mitigation grant program. Indian tribal governments must meet the requirements under the Code of Federal Regulation Title 44, Section 201.7, which is specific to tribal mitigation plans. Once approved, these plans are valid for five years and when FEMA approves a tribal mitigation plan, the tribe will be eligible for 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 for mitigation programs. This process promotes flexibility for tribes to request either grantee or sub-grantee status for each program under each Presidential Disaster Declaration. For tribes that do not have a FEMA approved tribal mitigation plan, FEMA allows 30 days from the date of declaration for the tribe to submit to FEMA an approved or approvable tribal mitigation plan. For HMGP, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program only, the FEMA regional administrator may grant an exception to the tribal mitigation plan requirements in extraordinary circumstances, such as in a small - in an impoverished community when justification is provided and the tribe is interested in sub-grantee status for that disaster. In these cases, a plan must be completed within 12 months of the project grant award.

There are additional references on the FEMA Web site for hazard mitigation planning; go to www.fema.gov/multi-hazard-mitigation-planning and there is specific tribal mitigation planning guidance available there. Now, understanding that the mitigation planning process is most effective before disasters, FEMA welcomes your feedback on whether 30 days is an appropriate amount of time for Indian 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 an Indian tribal government from submitting a tribal mitigation plan or a request for an extension within the timeframe.

Lucianne Phillips:              Thank you very much, Kristen. We sure appreciate the information you provided. Operator, we'll again open it up for questions from tribal executives about the hazard mitigation plan.

Telephone Operator:         And once again, please press star one to signal at this time. And we have no callers queued up.

Lucianne Phillips:              Alright, thank you very much operator. We've already touched on the subject of cost share adjustments, but we'll go into it again in a little more depth and we welcome Aaron Seria to talk -- grants management specialist -- to provide us with an overview.

Aaron Seria:                       Thanks Lucianne. Now 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 federal cost share from 75% to not more than 90% when actual federal obligations under the Stafford Act meet or exceed $133 -- that's for 2013 -- 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. So 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 I'll turn it back over to Lucianne for comment.

Lucianne Phillips:              Thank you very much, Aaron. Operator, we'll again open it up for comments from tribal executives for your input about cost share if there's more you would like to discuss.

Telephone Operator:         And once again, please press star one to signal for comment. And we have

no callers queued up.

Lucianne Phillips:              Alright, thank you operator. And now we will open up the call for any other comments you would like to provide on any topics of interest to you regarding the implementation of tribal declarations. So operator, I'd like to open it up again for general comments, should there be any.

Telephone Operator:         And again, that was star one to signal and please make sure your phone is off mute. We'll pause to allow everyone an opportunity. And we'll go to Brian Ridley.

Brian Ridley:                      Hi there. I was just hoping you could clarify a little bit. I see the -- I forget what your term is -- damage threshold of I believe a million and then you're talking about this per capita amount. For the State of Alaska -- just for number's sake -- what exactly would that amount be roughly? Because what I'm thinking is when the big flood happened in '09 in our region, I think that's why -- as a group -- we had to kind of band together all the affected villages to try to meet that threshold. And that's the part I've been trying to get my arms around as we go through this process is I'm hearing this amount of a million in damage -- which that is somewhat easy to get to if it's a severe event -- but in the '09 flood the damage threshold was way beyond that and we were really worried -- even trying to get all the communities grouped together -- whether or not we were going to meet that. And so I'm thinking that's where this per capita threshold amount comes in. but can you kind of talk a little bit about that and see if I'm kind of going down the right track, here?

Kenneth Murphy:              Brian, this is Ken Murphy. I'm going to turn to Jean Chaney - you have some information? I was not here at that time.

Jean Chaney:                      Yes I do. Yes I do. What we're looking at, Brian, is -- traditionally -- a minimum of $1 million in damages. And as you said, with the Eagle flooding, that was clearly something that was met. The way that it happens now is the statewide per capita of $1.37 per person must also be met. In Alaska, that also applies. There's also -- as it stands now -- a county-wide per capita indicator of $3.45. And so with all of these different indicators, it's - it could get a bit confusing, but the bottom line is the state must have the minimum $1million, the - which equals at least $1.37 per capita. In Alaska if the $1 million threshold is met, usually the $1.37 is pretty much a given. But they also have to meet the county-wide per capita indicator of $3.45 in each county -- in Alaska, each borough -- that is declared. And what we're looking at here is trying to figure out whether that's appropriate in looking at tribal declarations. So we have -- the way that we're doing it now -- is that something that's going to work for tribes or is there a different indicator that we should be looking at or should there be no indicator at all? Does that help to answer your question?

Brian Ridley:                      Yes, I think so.

Telephone Operator:         And there...

Lucianne Phillips:              Are there any - anything further that you'd like to pursue on that topic, Brian?

Telephone Operator:         And Brian, if you had an additional comment, please press star one. And we'll go back to Brian. Go ahead.

Brian Ridley:                      Okay, not so much on that topic, but just in general topics, that since that flood kind of my frustrations and things that it'd be nice if they were changed, but I'm not sure if this is the right forum to talk about the other issues, I guess?

Lucianne Phillips:              Please go ahead.

Brian Ridley:                      Okay. So as the CFO for TCC, I work through a lot of these different villages and trying to get the supplies either out to the village initially or trying to get reimbursement payments through the state and through FEMA. One of my biggest frustrations -- and I kind of understand why it's there -- but it's in the immediate -- I don't know -- three, four days when we're trying to get food and supplies out there - the slow approval process within the organization to be able to do that. And that's why TCC got involved in the first place was when that big flood happened in '09, we kind of were under the impression that everything was getting taken care of and about three days into it we found out no freight was moving anywhere. A lot of people were donating but nothing was moving and that's how we got kind of our foot in the door and started helping moving freight. And so I understand accounting procedures and kind of -- after the whole mess that happened in New Orleans -- that, you know, checks and balances had to be put into place, but when you're trying - when it's a true emergency and pretty much you're just trying to get food and water out there, I'm wondering if there are ways to kind of cut through the red tape. Because in our instance in Eagle -- this is a story I've shared a number of times -- we couldn't get food to the village. They requested - they put in a request and after four or five days they didn't have anything, so our village corporation -- which is not from TCC but through the Doyon Company -- our village corporation ended up just cutting a check for five or six grand and we got food there that day or the next day because of the slow time. And again, I understand that there needs to be an approval process, but when there are people on the ground at the location, I'm just asking that they have some level of approval authority -- 5 grand, 10 grand, 50 grand, whatever you guys decide that is -- so that they can make these decisions on the spot and get things moving as opposed to having to wait for a signature that might be, you know, 500 miles away. Is it possible to have approval authorities on site so that we can get things moving faster?

Kenneth Murphy:              Brian, Ken Murphy. I don't have a good answer for you. The answer is possibly yes, it depends on the details. Again, I wasn't here when the Eagle disaster happened. I would see if Roberta Carney is on the phone -- or Ramona VanCleve -- if you have any first-hand knowledge there that might be able to give Brian some more insight as to the possibilities? Not sure either one of them is online.

Telephone Operator:         We do have a response from Ramona VanCleve.

Kenneth Murphy:              Okay, Ramona?

Ramona VanCleve:            Yeah, Ken, Brian, hi. Listen, I understand what you're talking about was more in the response phase of the event. And I'm not sure if Roberta Carney is on, but I do know the state has a pretty robust response mechanism at their state emergency operations center. The disadvantage on the FEMA side was we didn't come in to the disaster until quite a bit later. Remember, it flooded in Eagle approximately April 28 or 29 that year and the rivers didn't finish breaking up until later in May. So the FEMA declaration did come in at least a month and a half after your event there at Eagle. I don't know what the exact answer is on a FEMA response, but I do know the state has a good response mechanism and we can try to get more information through them back to you.

Telephone Operator:         And we also have a comment from Roberta Carney.

Roberta Carney:                Hi, this is Roberta Carney. Ken and everyone and Brian. I'm going to pass this over to Brian Fisher who actually went with staff up and talked with you Brian Ridley, so I'm sure that some of this is going to be repetitive, but let's share it online for the record. So Brian.

Brian Fisher:                      Yeah. Hey, Brian, thanks again for having us up there last week. That was great. We had a discussion about this and the story of Eagle in 2009 - early on in the food and the approval process. We talked about that -- for those of you who weren't aware -- the leadership from State Homeland Security and Emergency Management went and met with TCC up in Fairbanks last Friday and talked about that. That was largely -- like Ramona had just said -- a state response issue where we didn't have a lot of local approval authority with our folks that were deployed to Eagle at the beginning of the flooding. As it pertains to a Stafford Act tribal declaration, I think that's still part of the overall issue of what's ineligible - eligible costs in the end to get reimbursed. There was a little bit of a time delay that had to do with the state response that our folks in the field didn't have explicit permission to approve things on the ground in Eagle at the outset of the disaster there. But when it comes to a tribal declaration -- if one were declared -- it all goes through that whole process that was explained there about determining the eligible work under the public assistance program and all. So the approval to do things is always there. Your organization -- TCC -- or Doyon or the village itself has the ability to do whatever they want. It just all comes back to the reimbursement process in the end if the funds are there, so - does that make sense?

Roberta Carney:                And Brian, this is Roberta. We will look at better approval - or authority levels for our people that are in the field for future events to ensure that there's a quicker response and of course that's noted.

Telephone Operator:         And we have no other comments queued up at this time. Again, that was star one to signal. And it appears we have no further comments.

Lucianne Phillips:              Alright, thanks operator. And thank you all for participating in this Region 10 consultation call. The transcript of this call will be posted online at www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation in the next few days. This consultation site also includes important background information on disaster assistance and declarations. 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: directly to the federal register notice, FEMA's online collaboration site, fema.ideascale.com, or the e-mail tribalconsultation@fema.dhs.gov. I'll now turn it over to Ken Murphy.

Kenneth Murphy:              Again, thank you all for your time today and we look forward to continue to grow FEMA's relationship with tribal leaders, emergency managers, and disaster recovery experts. Again, thank you and have a great day. Operator?

Telephone Operator:         Thank you. Once again, ladies and gentlemen that concludes our conference. Thank you all for your participation. You may disconnect your lines at this time.

END

Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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