Region 6 Tribal Consultation Call - Thursday, April 11, 2013, 2:00pm Central

Main Content

Subject: Emergencies and Major Disaster Declarations

Operator:             At this time all participants are in a listen only mode until the component portion of the call. If you'd like to provide a comment at that time, please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone phone.

                              Today's conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect. Now I'd like to turn the call over to your FEMA Region 6 Tribal Liaison Norma Reyes. Please go ahead.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you very much operator. Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the Region 6 Consultation conference call. I want to thank you all for taking the time to call in today and to share your input on the implementation of tribal declarations.

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

                              This is just the beginning of the consultation process and the open comment period running through April 22nd 2013. Comments you provide today will be the foundation for the development of the pilot guidance which will be used to create the final regulations. We look forward to hearing your comments.

                              Now for housekeeping notes. We will not be taking 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 the record of this meeting will be posted on www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation.

                              FEMA is not soliciting or accepting consensus advice or recommendations on federal laws, regulations or policies during this period, rather the purpose of this meeting is to gather individual input from a diverse group of partners.

                              Today you will hear from Region 6 Regional Administrator Tony Robinson. Mr. Robinson is a career emergency manager with experience working with tribal governments at the local, state and national level. He has over 25 years of experience with FEMA Region 6 that's resulted in his appointment as deputy regional administrator in 2012 and now as regional administrator.

                              Tony Robinson will be followed by subject matter experts on the Stafford Act, the declaration process, disaster assistance, Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation Assistance and cost share criteria. After a brief description of each agenda topic, the operator will open the line to provide approximately ten minutes for you to provide your comments. The operator will then close the line and we will move to the next topic.

                              Now we will hear from Tony Robinson FEMA Region 6 Regional Administrator.

Tony Robinson:    Thank you very much Norma. Good afternoon everyone.

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

                              The enactment 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 tribal governments 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 FEMA's - the FEMA administrators' three core principals regarding tribal governments.

                              Number 1: 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 2: FEMA has a government to government relationship with federally recognized tribal governments.

                              Number 3: tribal governments self-determine the best way for them to address their disaster needs. The Stafford Act amendment now gives tribal governments the choice to request declarations on their own. But tribal governments are not required to make a request on their own. The tribe may continue to seek assistance through a state's request if they choose.

                              The legislation does not require tribal governments to change their relationship with the states but states cannot direct tribal governments to make a request on their own or require tribal governments to be included in the state's request. The tribe makes that determination.

                              This is a substantial change to the Stafford Act. Changing the Stafford Act to recognize tribal sovereignty is just the beginning. Through this consultation process we want to hear from you -- tribal leaders, tribal emergency managers and disaster recovery subject matter experts -- regarding the items FEMA should consider as we develop pilot guidance to implement tribal declarations.

                              We appreciate you participating on today's call and encourage you to ask questions and provide recommendations to assist us in the development of the pilot guidance. Remember that you may also provide your written comments at the federal register IdeaScale and at the email inbox tribalconsultation@fema.dhs.gov.

                              With that, I'll turn it back to Norma Reyes.

Norma Reyes:      Our speakers today will describe specific aspects of the program as applied to states and territories. We need your input to modify the requirements to fit tribal government needs.

                              We will now hear a quick overview of the Stafford Act change from Jill Igrid, FEMA Regional 6 Regional Council.

Jill Igrid:               Good afternoon. As the regional administrator mentioned, the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act included a provision amending the Stafford Act to provide federally recognized tribal governments the option to choose whether to make a request directly to the United States President for a federal emergency or a major disaster declaration or to seek assistance, as they did previously, under a declaration request by a state.

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

                              The amendment allows tribal governments to be eligible to receive assistance through a state declaration so long as the tribal government does not receive a separate declaration for the same incident. The President has the authority to waive or adjust the cost share for Public Assistance.

                              The amendment also specifies that references to any combination of state and local in the Stafford Act should be read to include tribal governments. And in instances of governor or state should also be read to include chief executive of tribal government as appropriate. FEMA is required to consider the unique conditions that affect the general welfare of tribal governments when implementing this new authority.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you. We will now hear a quick overview of declarations tribes may request and assistance that may be made available. We will now hear from Lee Baker, Emergency Analyst Recovery Division Program Specialist about - I'm sorry.

Lee Baker:           Thank you Norma. 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 the following types of declarations.

                              Emergency 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 - they can also request a major disaster declaration.

                              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, a fire, flood or explosion.

                              The following are 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 the 30 days of the date of the incident, the chief executive may submit a written request for additional time. Such requests must provide the reasons for delay.

Woman:                (Unintelligible).

Lee Baker:           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;

                              An estimate of the amount and severity of damages and losses, stating the impact of the disaster on the public and private sector;

                              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 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 declaration. They must comply with grant administrative requirements, must also have Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation grant program and/or other needs assistance administrative plans.

                              More information on these requirements can be found at H - the following Web site, http://www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation. With that, I'll turn it back over to Norma Reyes for comments.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you very much Lee. Operator, we will now open it up for comments from tribal representatives first. When you provide your input, if you could please identify your name, title and affiliation before you proceed with your comments or questions. Operator, can we have those instructions?

Operator:             Thank you. If you would like to make a comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone phone. Again, you will be prompted to record your name. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you record. And we'll wait a moment to allow everyone time to queue for a question.

                              And again, to make a comment or provide input at this time, please press star 1 now. Okay, we'll take our first question. Please go ahead.

Mickey Douglas:  Hello.

Norma Reyes:      Hello?

Mickey Douglas:  Hi, this is Mickey Douglas with the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma.

Norma Reyes:      Hi Mickey.

Mickey Douglas:  Hi, how are you doing?

Norma Reyes:      Doing good, doing good.

Mickey Douglas:  Right now the question that I have, "Is there going - how would a - or how would a tribe go about filing for an extension of time for the comments? Or is there going to be the ability to do that?"

Man:                     Five days.

Norma Reyes:      As of now we have not been told that there will be any extensions granted. However, your comments have been taken.

Mickey Douglas:  So at this present time, the 22nd is still the deadline.

Norma Reyes:      Correct.

Mickey Douglas:  Okay, thank you.

Norma Reyes:      If not heard otherwise. Thank you.

Mickey Douglas:  Thanks.

Operator:             We'll go to our next caller. Please go ahead.

Steve Cordoba:    Yes, this is Steve Cordoba from Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Emergency Planner.

Norma Reyes:      Hi Steve.

Steve Cordoba:    Yes Ma'am, I just wanted to reiterate, which we mentioned in the last conference call, that we feel that a 30-day extension - or I mean a 30-day deadline to - for - excuse me, for the - I'm sorry, I lost my train of thought.

Man:                     To submit a request haz...

Woman:                Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Steve Cordoba:    Yes, to develop your hazard mitigation plan isn't enough time because some tribes...

((Crosstalk))

Steve Cordoba:    ...having a plan already developed.

Norma Reyes:      Okay. And your recommendation in terms of how long we should consider?

Steve Cordoba:    We were kicking that around and we were thinking that, probably 90 days.

Norma Reyes:      Ninety-days? Okay. Any other comments Steve?

Steve Cordoba:    That's it for now.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you.

Steve Cordoba:    Thank you.

Operator:             And moving on to our next caller. Please go ahead.

Josh Garcia:        Yes, this is Josh Garcia, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.

Norma Reyes:      Hi Josh.

Josh Garcia:        Hello. Yes, in reference to the first caller, I would recommend to tribes that in addition to making the comment right now about extending the time period of the comments, that you go to the Web site where you can make the comment and put in the comment in writing so that it will be on record that way as well.

                              I know I did that after the last call. So I would just recommend that any tribes that feel like we do and like the caller did, that maybe the comment period that we're looking at right now to this initial comment period was not enough time, to submit that comment through the Web site as well.

Norma Reyes:      Okay, thank you. Any other comments Josh?

Josh Garcia:        No Ma'am. Yes.

Norma Reyes:      Okay, thanks.

Josh Garcia:        I'm sorry.

Norma Reyes:      Yes?

Josh Garcia:        I'm sorry, yes. Ralph Johnson is here with me (unintelligible).

Norma Reyes:      Okay, Ralph?

Ralph Johnson:    Hi Norma. Two quick...

Norma Reyes:      Hi.

Ralph Johnson:    I think we touched on this last time, but I've got it on some of my notes here. Do we just - talking about the hazard mitigation plan, did we discuss how we felt that a tribe could either be - have their own standalone hazard mitigation plan or be part of a regional one? Did we discuss that last time? And do we know what the answer to that would be?

                              I mean my recommendation would be, some tribes are going to find it, I would imagine, quite difficult to write their own hazard mitigation plan. And if you allow them, to you know, be partners with their regional folks and have like a regional hazard mitigation plan that they can fall back on, multi-jurisdictional one, I think that would assist them tremendously if you all allow them to have that.

Norma Reyes:      Okay.

Ralph Johnson:    That's just - it's just a thought.

Norma Reyes:      Okay great. Thank you. Anything else, Ralph?

Ralph Johnson:    Not right now Ma'am, thank you.

Norma Reyes:      Okay, thank you.

Operator:             And Ladies and Gentlemen, again it is star 1 at this time if you'd like to ask a question or provide input. We'll take our next question, caller please go ahead.

Steve Cordoba:    Yes, this is Steve Cordoba, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Emergency Planner. I just wanted to add to what - the comment that Ralph had right there. But I am under the understanding that the State of Texas is only allowing two jurisdictions to be in one mitigation plan. So I think that would be a - and that's just a state rule that they came up with this year.

                              So I was - I just wanted to inform him that those multijurisdictional hazard mitigation plans are really of the past now for the State of Texas.

Norma Reyes:      Okay, thank you, we'll take note. You can comment.

((Crosstalk))

Norma Reyes:      (Shanine)'s going to talk on that.

(Shanine):             Steve and Ralph, multijurisdictional plans are still - you could still do them as long as both regulations are met, which that would be the local regulations and the tribal regulations.

                              And as far as the State of Texas, if there's extenuating circumstances for the multijurisdictional plans, they do allow multiple - more than two, but you have to get that approved through the state.

Norma Reyes:      Ralph any - Steve any other comments?

Steve Cordoba:    No Ma'am, not right now.

Norma Reyes:      Okay, great. Operator anything else?

Operator:             We do have an additional question.

Norma Reyes:      Okay.

Operator:             Caller please go ahead.

Ralph Johnson:    I'm sorry, yes Norma this is Ralph Johnson Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. Steve and I, we're - Josh and I are in Austin and Steve's back in El Paso, so we're not in the same room.

Norma Reyes:      Okay.

Ralph Johnson:    That's why we're (unintelligible).

Norma Reyes:      No problem. No problem at all.

Ralph Johnson:    But it's a good thing that Steve brought that up. My only question would be, since that's the - the State of Texas is a grantee to FEMA, the state could have that stipulation for its sub-grantees, but FEMA doesn't have to have that stipulation, that's what that lady was just talking about.

                              But if a tribe wants to go the state declaration route, then that makes sense, you would have to follow the state's rules because we're falling under their umbrella and under their declaration. But if we were going straight to FEMA, then it doesn't really matter what the State of Texas has in their rules because we're not acting as a sub-grantee, we're acting as a grantee of FEMA.

                              But those are good points to be made, and a good discussion point that we need to iron because...

((Crosstalk))

Ralph Johnson:    ...what the other states' rules are and we want to make sure all tribes are taken care of. So that's all I was going to say on that. Thank you.

Norma Reyes:      Okay, thank you.

Operator:             And Miss Reyes, we have no further questions at this time.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you very much. Now we will now hear an overview of Individual Assistance criteria from...

((Crosstalk))

Norma Reyes:      Martin Blake, Program Specialist with Individual Assistance. And then we will open it for comment from tribal governments. Here's Martin Blake.

Martin Blake:      Good afternoon everyone. I'm discussing FEMA assistance available made by a major disaster declarations. And the Individual Assistance that's assistance - or provides assistance to individuals and households.

                              The Individual Assistance programs can provide disaster housing, which provides grants for rental assistance and or home repairs. And that is 100% federally funded. The other needs assistance programs provides grants for replacement of personal property, transportation, medical and dental and funeral expenses.

                              The Stafford Act sets the cost for cost - the cost share for other needs assistance cost at a 75/25% - 75% federal and 25% nonfederal cost share. The Stafford Act does not give the President authority to waive the other needs assistance cost share. All other assistance - Individual Assistance programs have no cost share.

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

                              First is concentrations of damages. FEMA evaluates the concentration of damage to individuals. High concentrations of damage generally indicate a greater need for federal assistance than widespread or scattered damages throughout a state.

                              Secondly is trauma. FEMA considers the degree of trauma to the community. 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.

                              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.

                              Voluntary agency assistance. FEMA considers the extent to which voluntary agencies and state or local programs meet the needs of disaster survivors.

                              Finally, insurance. FEMA considers the amount of insurance coverage because by law federal disaster assistance cannot duplicate insurance coverage.

((Crosstalk))

Martin Blake:      FEMA is soliciting comments on whether these Individual Assistance factors -- concentration of damages, trauma, special populations, the voluntary agency assistance and insurance -- are appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating tribal government requests for Individual Assistance.

                              FEMA also welcomes comments on whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for us to consider when evaluating tribal government requests for Individual Assistance. FEMA is interested to hear what criteria you think should be used to evaluate the state requests for Individual Assistance.

                              The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act also include a provision which directed FEMA to review, update and revise the factors considered when evaluating a state's request for a major disaster declaration which authorizes Individual Assistance.

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

                              Now I'm going to turn it back to Norma for further comments.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you Martin. Operator, we will now open it up for comments from tribal representatives first. When you provide your input, if you could please identify your name, title and affiliation before you proceed with your questions or comments. Operator, can we have those instructions?

Operator:             Certainly. Again if you would like to make a comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone phone. Again, you will be prompted to record your name. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you record. And we'll pause for just a moment to allow everyone a time - a chance to queue.

                              And again that is star 1 to make a comment or provide input at this time. And we do have a question. Please go ahead. Caller your line is open, please go ahead.

Man:                     Yes, I'm sorry, I had my mute on.

Norma Reyes:      That's easy to do, let me tell you.

Steve Cordoba:    Yes, Steve Cordoba, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Emergency Planner. But listening to the discussion, I was remembering something Josh and I were talking about, and he was mentioning to me that tribes are already considered special populations. So I just don't know how that would change the application for individual assistance, but any time anything would occur on a tribal land, we're already identified as special populations. So that's just something to - we need to think about.

Norma Reyes:      Okay good, thank you for that comment. Anything else on - any other comment on that?

Steve Cordoba:    Not right now, just give me another...

Norma Reyes:      Okay. Okay.

Steve Cordoba:    Thank you.

Norma Reyes:      Thanks. Next, operator?

Operator:             Once again it is star 1 to make a comment or provide input at this time. And Miss Reyes, we have nothing further at this time.

Norma Reyes:      Okay, thank you. We will now hear an overview of Public Assistance criteria from Kristy Barbier, a program specialist, and then we will open it up for comment from tribal governments. Here's Kristy.

Kristy Barbier:    Public Assistance provides assistance to state, tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the 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 major disaster request includes Public Assistance, FEMA uses the following criteria to make a recommendation to the President whether assistance is warranted. These are the current procedures as developed for states. We need your input to modify these requirements to fit tribal government needs.

                              Insurance coverage in force. For state requests, 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 disaster.

                              Hazard Mitigation. FEMA also considers the extent to which state and local government Mitigation measures contribute to the reduction of disaster damages for the disaster under consideration.

                              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.

                              Programs of other federal assistance. FEMA also considers the programs of other federal agencies because at times their programs of assistance might be more appropriate - might more appropriately meet the needs created by the disaster.

                              Localized impacts. FEMA evaluates the impact of the disaster at the county and government level as well as the impact on American Indian and/or Alaska native tribal government levels.

                              This is because at times there are extraordinary concentration 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.

                              Estimated cost of the assistance. Many of you may know, this is as the Public Assistance - many of you may know this as the Public Assistance per capita indicator and a $1 million minimum.

                              FEMA evaluates the estimated cost of Public Assistance against the statewide population. This provides a sense of 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 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 state 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 tribal government requests for Public Assistance. We would like to hear your thoughts also on whether tribal government's requests should be evaluated based on damage per capita.

                              We would also like to hear your thoughts on whether a tribal government should be expected to cover a level of damage and whether there should be a similar minimum damage threshold for tribal governments as that applied to state requests for Public Assistance.

                              FEMA also welcomes your comments on whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating the level of impact and tribal governments' capacity to respond to and recover from an event for Public Assistance.

                              I'll take comments and turn it back to you Norma.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you very much Kristy. Operator, we will now open it up for comments from tribal representatives first. When you provide your input, if you could please identify your name, title and affiliation before you proceed with your comments or questions. Operator, can we have those instructions?

Operator:             Thank you. And if you would like to make a comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone phone. Again, you will be prompted to record your name. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you record. Again that is star 1, and we'll pause for just a moment to allow everyone a chance to queue.

                              We'll take our first question. Caller please go ahead.

Ralph Johnson:    Hello everybody again, this is Ralph Johnson, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, Chief of Fire Safety and Operations. I've got a couple comments on this one.

                              I think last week when we were on the line, I stated that I felt that maybe the federal government and FEMA needs to look at cultural and sacred site locations as well, if they've been damaged by the disaster that has struck the reservation or the pueblo.

                              And I think I said that under the Individual Assistance, it probably doesn't belong there. It probably belongs more underneath the Public Assistance section, what we're talking about now. To me that seems like it would be something that FEMA may want to, you know, consider as well.

                              Now some of these sites, once they're damaged they're damaged for good and no amount of money's going to bring them back and we know that. But some of them may be able to be restored somewhat to their natural state, if you know, if the dollar amount was correct.

                              Now the second thing I've got is the $1.37 per capita. I understand that that changes annually and that's based on the cost index. But is that the only factor that's figured in or is there like the population, like the median income level of all people in the United States, does that come into effect at all? Because maybe we need to plug that in there somewhere also with the median income level of the individuals that are in the location that's been impacted.

                              Does that come into figuring at all?

Kristy Barbier:    Hi Ralph, this is Kristy with Public Assistance. Localized impacts and the concentration of damages do come into play when evaluating whether or not the disaster is going to be declared. So $1.37 at the state per capita is the rule of thumb, but the concentration of the damages and the local impact to the tribe affected would be taken into consideration even as the law stands now.

Ralph Johnson:    Okay, that's good. And I know we're going to submit some written comments to the Web site prior to the deadline that you all have imposed, you know the first 45-day deadline.

                              Another thing is I think everybody on the call pretty much feels the same way, that $1 million in public assistance estimated damage that a tribe has to pay for before they get any assistance from FEMA, that number's extremely high.

                              I know we talked about this last time. I don't have a number to plug into that, but I think we're going to sit down with some of our folks and submit that in a written format by next Friday, just so you know. But we are - we do believe that that $1 million is way too high for the majority of tribes that are - that you all are trying to take care of.

Norma Reyes:      Great, thanks for those comments. Anything else Ralph?

Ralph Johnson:    No Ma'am, that's all on this one. Thank you.

Norma Reyes:      Great, thank you. Operator?

Operator:             We'll move to our next caller. Please go ahead.

Steve Cordoba:    Yes, this is Steve Cordoba Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Emergency Planner. Just to add to what Ralph was already saying, but my comment is that - and it was brought up last conference call by, I forget the gentleman's name, from a different tribe. But he was talking about the utilities.

                              And my point is that most of the properties on the reservation, they're going to have insurance. So because of the damage and the insurance requirements, we - all our properties are going to be, you know, (unintelligible) therefore it's going to be real difficult to meet the $1 million assistance estimate on damages.

                              But so but my point is, we do - we don't have critical infrastructure on the reservations. And if we did, that would assist us into - in meeting the $1 million assistance damages. So but if our neighboring jurisdiction are - is the critical infrastructure, say the utilities are damaged, we're going to be at their mercy until they're able to correct those situations.

                              So that's another thing that we probably need to think about and put in our comments.

Norma Reyes:      Okay, thank you Steve.

Steve Cordoba:    Yes Ma'am.

Norma Reyes:      Operator?

Operator:             And moving on, we'll take our next caller. Please go ahead.

Mickey Douglas:  Yes, this is Mickey Douglas, Seminole Nation of Oklahoma again. I have a question about the $1 million threshold.

                              Can - will there be anything in the Stafford Act put that for tribes that may be considered somewhat impoverished? And could maybe ask that they be considered, you know, because of their impoverished needs that they would be granted a waiver for that?

Norma Reyes:      So that's one of your recommendations?

Mickey Douglas:  Well yes. Yes.

Norma Reyes:      Okay.

Mickey Douglas:  I'm trying to get - I had the words in my head before I...

Norma Reyes:      Right, I understand.

Mickey Douglas:  ...decided to talk. But hardship, that's what I was trying to think of...

Norma Reyes:      Right.

Mickey Douglas:  ...could be considered for hardship.

Norma Reyes:      Okay.

Mickey Douglas:  Especially, take a tribe like Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, we have just the one county. So we're really not - have invested in, you know, in business that much and we're really kind of impoverished tribe to begin with.

Norma Reyes:      Okay.

Mickey Douglas:  And also the second question is on the $1 million, "Is that $1 million in uninsured damages?"

Norma Reyes:      Yes it is.

Mickey Douglas:  It doesn't count for insured property?

Norma Reyes:      Correct.

Mickey Douglas:  Okay. And the deductible, could that be a possibility for - as a hardship, that a tribe not be able to, you know the - to make the deductible on all these properties?

Kristy Barbier:    This is Kristy with Public Assistance. The deductible would likely be included in the damage assessment. So the deductible most likely would go towards the current $1 million minimum.

Mickey Douglas:  Okay, that...

Kristy Barbier:    That's for the first event. If you had a similar second event, the deductible would not likely go towards the $1 million minimum.

Mickey Douglas:  Okay, so is it - are you saying, "It's one event per year?" Is that what I'm hearing?

Kristy Barbier:    No Sir, I mean one event for that...

((Crosstalk))

Kristy Barbier:    ...let's say for a particular facility.

Mickey Douglas:  Okay.

Kristy Barbier:    So say it's a full building, if they receive FEMA assistance under a federal declaration and they had insurance, then FEMA would likely cover 75% of the deductible. After that, under current regulation, the deductible would not be covered.

Mickey Douglas:  Okay. Let's just say, for you know, just for talking purposes, say we had a disaster, a building was repaired. And then you know, God forbid, another one came through and got it again within the same fiscal year, would it not be covered the second time?

Kristy Barbier:    Well no Sir, because under Public Assistance - under the requirement to receive public assistance funding, you would be required to obtain and maintain insurance on that facility after you received funding the first time.

Man:                     If there's damages that occur above the damages from the first event, that difference could possibly be eligible.

Mickey Douglas:  Okay.

Man:                     So if you had a - if you have damages of $100,000 on the first event, and there was a requirement for $100,000 worth of insurance, and the second event you had $200,000 worth of insurance, we could look at that difference of $100,000 and say that everything above the first event requirement to buy and maintain could be eligible, yes Sir.

Mickey Douglas:  Okay, well that's. I appreciate it. That answered my question. Thank you.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you Mickey. Operator?

Operator:             And moving on, caller please go ahead. Caller, your line is open. Please go ahead.

Woman:                I think my questions have been covered, I'm sorry. Thank you.

Norma Reyes:      Any more questions operator?

Operator:             One additional question. Please go ahead caller.

Steve Cordoba:    Yes, this is Steve Cordoba, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Emergency Planner. I want to go back to the previous discussion, and when we were talking about hazard mitigation plans and multijurisdictional.

                              And I just - after we closed up I thought about this, but since there previously was, as the state being a grantee, and they had multi-jurisdictional plans, could it - would it be possible now, say if the tribe's going to be the grantee, would they be - would we be able to have a multijurisdictional plan with the other two tribes in Texas? Do you think that would be possible?

Kristy Barbier:    Yes, that's an option.

Steve Cordoba:    And since we're like 90% complete, or 95, it would benefit them to jump into our plan and then they could actually be working on a plan of their own in the meantime. That is a viable option?

Kristy Barbier:    If the regulations are met for all three, then that's an option. If you - since you're already 95% complete, it would probably take the other two tribes just as long as it did for you all to develop your plan to even join into your plan. So I would suggest you to go ahead and turn in your plan that you have, and then if they're going to join later, that's still an option.

Steve Cordoba:    Okay. Thank you.

Operator:             And we do have one additional question. Miss Suina, your line is open. Please go ahead.

Phoebe Suina:      Hi. Yes, this is Phoebe Suina from Cochiti Pueblo. We've been handling all the flood mitigation and the disaster declaration after the Las Conchas fire here for Cochiti Pueblo.

                              And sorry to go back to the hazard mitigation topic, but if the tribe has a current - has already pursued a current grant agreement through the state to develop a tribal hazard mitigation plan, could we at this point still - could we go directly to the federal level instead of going through the state at this point?

                              We've been having some logistical issues in terms of just the state here in New Mexico as - is under-resourced and under-staffed. And so we want to keep moving along, but we're having a little bit of issue so we thought we could take out one layer of bureaucracy and go right to the federal level. Is that option still available?

(Shanine):             Hi Phoebe, this is (Shanine), how are you?

Phoebe Suina:      Hi (Shanine), how are you doing?

(Shanine):             Good. As far as the grant requirement, you still have to go through the state as their sub-grantee.

Phoebe Suina:      Okay.

(Shanine):             But when you get ready to submit the hazard mitigation plan or request technical assistance, you have the option to either request through the state, to FEMA or directly to FEMA.

Phoebe Suina:      Great, okay. And I have another question regarding - back to the public assistance topic that we were - that was being discussed.

                              Under the public assistance guidebook I know that agricultural lands and agricultural, I guess assets and areas are not covered under FEMA. But I know here in New Mexico and in many - here at Cochiti Pueblo as well as many other Pueblos, agricultural lands and the - are indeed basically connected to our way of life and the whole way of - the Pueblo way of life, I should say.

                              And so is there - would there be some consideration in terms of that, that you know, if we get hit with some disaster, that we could get some of the - that agricultural language included to be covered?

Kristy Barbier:    Hey Phoebe, this is Kristy. How are you?

Phoebe Suina:      Hi. Good, Kristy, good to hear from you.

Kristy Barbier:    You too. Currently agricultural lands would not be covered. Do you want to make that your recommendation for...

Phoebe Suina:      Yes.

Kristy Barbier:    ...consideration for the call?

Phoebe Suina:      Yes.

Kristy Barbier:    We'll note that.

Phoebe Suina:      Okay.

Kristy Barbier:    But currently they would not be covered.

Phoebe Suina:      Right, right, right. So I was just making that comment in case any other pueblos or any other tribes have similar concerns in terms of their cultural or - you know, and their way of life. You know it's slightly different than the mainstream America in terms of that.

                              But those are my comments and questions. And I appreciate you guys holding this conference call.

Kristy Barbier:    Thank you.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you Phoebe. Operator?

Operator:             And there are no further questions at this time.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you. We will now hear a brief overview of Hazard Mitigation Assistance from Sandy Keith, Region 6 Deputy Director Mitigation Division and then open it up for comments from tribal governments. Here's Sandy Keith.

Sandy Keith:        Good afternoon. Hazard Mitigation Assistance is assistance to state, tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for actions taken to prevent or reduce long term risk to life and property from natural hazards.

                              The Stafford Act allows the President to contribute up to 75% of the cost of Hazard Mitigation. Total Mitigation funding for a disaster is based on a percentage up to 15% of the total obligations for the disaster.

                              Let me emphasize, "If requesting the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program or permanent work under the Public Assistance program, the tribe must have a FEMA approved or approvable mitigation plan within 30 days of date of declaration. FEMA welcomes comments on whether 30 days is an appropriate amount of time for tribal governments to submit an approved or approvable mitigation plan during the pilot program.

                              FEMA also welcomes comments on whether there are circumstances that may prevent tribal governments from submitting a tribal Mitigation plan or a request for an extension within this time. With that, I'll now turn it back to Norma Reyes for comments.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you very much Sandy. Operator, we will now open comment - and to open up for comments from tribal representatives first. When you provide your input if you could please identify your name, title and affiliation before you proceed with your comments or questions. Operator, can we have those instructions?

Operator:             Thank you. If you would like to make a comment or provide input at this time, please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone phone. You will be prompted to record your name. Please check that your phone is unmuted before doing so.

                              Again, that is star 1 to make a comment or provide input at this time. And we'll pause for just a moment. And again, that is star 1 to make a comment or provide input at this time. And we'll take our first caller. Mr. Garcia, please go ahead.

Ralph Johnson:    Hi everybody, this is Ralph Johnson again, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, Chief of Fire Safety and Operations. Before I make a comment, I want to be clear on that 15% that you talked about. So if you could explain that.

                              After a disaster hits and, let's say it's - let's just do it simple, a million dollar disaster declaration, you can repress up to 15% of the declaration, which would be $150,000, to work on mitigation projects, is that what I'm to understand?

Norma Reyes:      Yes. Someone could help me out here, 15% of the cost of public assistance.

Man:                     It's all the programs like Public Assistance, Individual Assistance...

Woman:                (Unintelligible).

Man:                     Do what? Yes, and all those program costs, you take 15% of that, we minus out all of our admin costs for how we run the disaster. But you get 15% of that, and that's what you get for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Ralph Johnson:    Okay, yes that's what I thought. And I think I brought this up last time as well, I just want to reiterate it.

                              I think you're going to see some disaster declarations that are smaller in numbers than what FEMA usually gives out. I mean just because of the tribe holdings or what have you aren't going to be valued as much as some of these larger cities or what have you. But that doesn't mean they don't have a need to mitigate lots of issues that they may have on their reservation or pueblo.

                              So I think that 15% is kind of small when you look at the size of the disasters we're going to have. So I'm thinking if you could bump that number up to somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 to 50%, it's going to assist tribes tremendously in mitigating a lot of hazards that they have on their reservations and/or pueblos.

                              So I like the 15%, I understand what it's there for; it's to help people out after they've had a disaster and they - to work on their mitigation plan. But if you could raise that 15% up to 45 or 50%, I think you're going to do a lot of tribes a lot of good.

Norma Reyes:      Okay, thank you. Any other comment?

Operator:             Have one additional comment. Miss Suina, go ahead.

Phoebe Suina:      Hello this is Phoebe Suina again from Cochiti Pueblo. I had a question on that. So is there - and I just want to be - get some clarification.

                              So I know here in the State of New Mexico we've had a number of presidential disaster declarations. So I know we're trying to get our hazard mitigation plan in the - you know, submitted and produced and developed.

                              But in the process of that there - so the percentage that overall in the State of New Mexico in terms of the hazard mitigation funds available, is much higher than if they - Cochiti declared its own disaster declaration. Is there still that option of going through the state to get that higher dollar figure availability in terms of funds?

Man:                     Yes, currently right now if the tribe would prefer to go under the state and become a sub-grantee, then they will have - be able to have access to those additional hazard mitigation grant funds.

Phoebe Suina:      Okay, and could - is there the potential of doing both? I know it sounds like double areas, but you know, we - they're - say they had a declaration and then once they meet that threshold, go to the state as well to - if - as the gentlemen before said, you know, 50% of $1 million is much less than 50 - you know, whatever the percentage is for the statewide declarations if we have a multimillion dollar declaration in - for the state.

                              Is there still the opportunity or is it one or the other?

Man:                     Yes, it's either - you can either come in as your own, straight to FEMA as a grantee, or you have to come in under the state.

Phoebe Suina:      Okay.

Man:                     It's one or the other.

Phoebe Suina:      And is that on a per year basis or is that if you have a grant going on you can't go to the other?

Man:                     You're saying like right now if you had a grant with - under the state - you're a sub-grantee with the state right now and then you had another event?

Phoebe Suina:      Right.

Man:                     Could you either come in under the state or come in by yourself to FEMA? You could choose which one you wanted to do after that. And you would maintain your sub-grantee status in your first disaster. But your second disaster, if you wanted to come in straight to FEMA, you could do that.

Phoebe Suina:      Okay. Okay.

Man:                     Does that answer your question? I want to make sure...

Phoebe Suina:      It does, it does. I just want to make sure there's still that opportunity as the gentleman before said, you know, "The 15% of the $1 million is not a lot of money once," you know.

Man:                     Right.

Phoebe Suina:      And so if that's what it was, but you know I know, statewide there's a higher amount of money that's been associated with the disasters. So yes, that clears up my question. Thank you.

Man:                     Yes, thanks Phoebe.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you. Operator?

Operator:             We do have one additional question. Please go ahead.

Josh Garcia:        Yes this is Josh Garcia, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo EMC.

                              Just on a follow-up on the previous caller's question about having the option to go one way or the other with hazard mitigation dollars, if the tribe opts to go through - as a sub-grantee through the state, the available funding is 15% but it now, at the discretion of the state as to how much of that 15% is going to come down to its - or at the discretion of the state as to how that 15% is going to be distributed amongst the affected local governments and tribes. Is that not correct?

Man:                     Yes Sir, that's absolutely correct.

Josh Garcia:        So that - the tribe wouldn't necessarily get the whole 15%...

((Crosstalk))

Josh Garcia:        ...they just have access to that 15% at whatever amount would be distributed or? Okay.

Man:                     Yes Sir, you're right on target.

Josh Garcia:        Thank you.

Ralph Johnson:    Let me - this is Ralph again, I'm sorry I'm sitting next to Josh. Just to follow-up on that, the state could also choose to give none to the tribe, is that not correct, and actually use some of that money in areas that were unaffected as long as it meets their mitigation plan. They have the right to do that as well, correct?

((Crosstalk))

Man:                     Yes Sir.

Ralph Johnson:    Exactly. So that's - so you've got to be very careful. I mean some places have good relationships with states and some places don't. And it just depends upon what, you know, what the state is trying to accomplish, you know, during their - you know, with their hazard mitigation plan. So nothing mandates that they give any of that mitigation funding if we come in as a sub-grantee to our pueblo, let's say if it was affected. Nothing mandates that they do that, correct?

Man:                     That's absolutely correct. And that's one of the benefits of being able to come directly to us, is all that funding would be - even though - you know, it depends on the size of the disaster of course, all that funding would be directed to the tribe.

Ralph Johnson:    Exactly. And that goes back to my last point of 15%; I think that number is really small when we're trying to mitigate issues that we have, when you look at the dollar amount that we may be affected with. So once again, for the fourth time I'll say, "If we could bump that..."

((Crosstalk))

Man:                     Hey Ralph, and just to be clear, that 15% is kind of a cost ceiling. You still have to have eligible projects underneath that to actually be funded. So we certainly hear you loud and clear that because of the demographics, that that number may be less, and so the percentage your recommendation is to look at enhancing that. So we got it.

Ralph Johnson:    Absolutely. Than you all very much. Thank you.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you. Operator, any other calls?

Operator:             Not at this time.

Norma Reyes:      Okay, thank you.

((Crosstalk))

Norma Reyes:      Now that we have heard some background on FEMA's declaration process, disaster assistance and the change to the Stafford Act, we will now hear about cost share criteria from Mark Price and then open it up for comments from tribal governments. Here's Mark Price.

Mark Price:         Thank you Norma. As previously discussed, most types of disaster assistance provided under the Stafford Act have nonfederal cost share requirements. The Stafford Act sets the cost share for other needs assistance at 75% federal, 25% nonfederal.

                              The Stafford Act sets the federal cost share for Public Assistance at not less than 75%. The Stafford Act allows the President to contribute up to 75% of the cost of Hazard Mitigation.

                              The President may only adjust the nonfederal cost share for Public Assistance. The discretion to adjust or waive the nonfederal cost share rests solely with the President.

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

                              This number is adjusted annually for inflation. In making this recommendation, FEMA may also consider the impact of major disaster declarations in the state during the previous 12 months.

                              FEMA is soliciting comments on whether the per capita threshold used for states would be appropriate for evaluating whether to recommend a cost share adjustment for tribal declarations. FEMA also welcomes comments on what other factors may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating potential cost share adjustments for tribal declarations.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you Mark. Operator, we will now open it up for tribal representatives first. When you provide your input, if you'd please identify your name, title and affiliation. Operator, would you please proceed with your comments or questions?

Operator:             Thank you. If you would like to make a comment or provide input at this time, please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone phone. You will be prompted to record your name, please do so at that time. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you record. And we'll pause for just a moment to allow everyone the time to queue.

                              And again that is star 1 to make a comment or provide input at this time. We'll take our first caller. Miss Suina, go ahead.

Phoebe Suina:      Hello, this is Phoebe Suina with Cochiti Pueblo, Flood Mitigation Coordinator. I had a question, just to - for my clarification again.

                              Our tribal TL638 funds (unintelligible) tribal funds that can be used for the local match. Can you hear me?

Mark Price:         Yes, Phoebe. Yes this is Mark Price. I hear you had some tribal funds that - I couldn't hear the number or?

Phoebe Suina:      All right sorry, they're under the 38 funds that the tribe has. So those are tribal funds. And I just wanted clarification that those can be used as a local match.

Mark Price:         Well I think that - if I understand that correctly, that - is that funding that comes from BIA?

Phoebe Suina:      Yes. Yes, there's various types of...

Man:                     They'll lose federal identity.

Mark Price:         Yes - they do lose federal identity?

((Crosstalk))

Mark Price:         Yes, we'll have to check to see if those types of funds, like the community block grant funds, they lose their federal identity when they go to a local community. We've got to figure out if whether these BIA funds lose their federal identity when they come to you.

                              And if they do not, then they would not be able to be used as cost-share. But that's just something we need to check into.

Man:                     Yes, and I think the other thing is Mark's talking about the non - on the nonfederal share, like on a - or a public assistance project is, if the project is $100,000, we're only going to provide $75,000. And you know, where you get the rest, that's going to be basically what - the funding we obligate to you.

Phoebe Suina:      Yes, yes. And so I just want to have that clarified and out there. Because I've done some research on it and it looks like, you know, other federal agencies that have similar types of grants do allow the tribes to utilize their 638 funds as a local match. But nowhere did I see anywhere that FEMA has made that decision. So I just thought this would be a prime opportunity to make that - document that (unintelligible).

((Crosstalk))

Man:                     Yes, we need to check on that.

Phoebe Suina:      Thank you.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you Phoebe. Operator?

Operator:             And again, it is star 1 at this time to make a comment or provide input. Miss Reyes, looks like we have nothing further at this time.

Norma Reyes:      Okay, thank you very much. Now that we have heard some background on FEMA's Individual Assistance, please - public assistance, cost share and the change to the Stafford Act, we will now move to the part of the agenda where we want to hear from you on the open forum.

                              This is where we ask tribal Presidents, governors, chiefs, chairs or other executive members to hear their voices, input and concerns. Basically any comment or question that you want to make at this point, it's open.

                              Operator, we will now open it up for comments from tribal representatives first. When you provide your input, if you could please identify your name, title, affiliation before you proceed with your comments or questions. Operator, can we have those instructions?

Operator:             Certainly. If you would like to make a comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone phone. You will be prompted to record your name. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you record. Once again that is star 1 to make a comment or provide input at this time. And we'll pause for just a moment.

                              And again that is star 1 to make a comment or provide input at this time. Miss Reyes, looks like we have nothing at this time.

Norma Reyes:      Okay, so no other comments at all. Thank you operator. Thank you very much for your input. I would like to conclude the FEMA Tribal Consultation Engagement conference call and turn it over to Regional Administrator Tony Robinson for the final remarks. Here is Tony Robinson.

Tony Robinson:    Thank you for participating in today's Region 6 Consultation call. I appreciate your input today. A lot of good input.

                              And I tried to - I took some notes. May not be all inclusive, but your comments on the declarations criteria, the planning timeframe, hazard mitigation, percentage used to establish the cost ceiling and the $1 million minimum, and the use of the 638 funds, are all great comments and things that we need to consider. So thank you once again for your time and your input today.

                              Your input will assist us we move forward with the development of our pilot guidance. A transcript of this call will be posted on www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation in the next few days. The consultation site also includes important background information on declarations and disaster assistance.

                              We thank you for your time and we look forward to building upon FEMA's relationship with the tribal leaders, emergency managers and disaster recovery subject matter experts. With that, Norma, I'll give it to you for conclusion.

Norma Reyes:      Thank you. The deadline to provide your input on the implementation of tribal declaration is April 22. So do not forget to submit your written comment.

                              In emails I previously sent, you will find additional - four additional avenues by which you can submit your written comments. Please contact me at 940-898-5233 or email me at norma.reyes@fema.dhs.gov if you'd like me to provide you this information again.

                              Again, thank you very much for your participation. Have a great evening.

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

 

END

Last Updated: 
04/16/2013 - 17:50