Region 7 Tribal Consultation Call - Tuesday, March 28, 2013, 9:30am Central

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Subject:  Emergencies and Major Disaster Declarations Request

Telephone Operator: Please stand by we're about to begin. At this time all participants are in a listen only mode until the comment portion of the call. If you would like to provide a comment at that time please press star and then 1 on your touchtone telephone. As a reminder today's conference is being recorded. If you have any objections you may now disconnect. Now I'd like to turn the call over to your FEMA Region VII External Affairs Director, Mike Cappannari.  Please go ahead.

Mike Cappannari:  Thank you very much operator. Good morning everyone and welcome to the Region VII Consultation conference call. I just wanted to thank you all for taking some time this morning to call in and to share your input on the implementation of tribal declarations. The purpose of today's call is to hear from tribal leaders, tribal emergency managers, disaster recovery subject matter experts, and other interested tribal members or partners and to capture their thoughts, comments and concerns about FEMA's implementation of tribal major disaster and emergency declarations. This is part of the open comment period running through April 22. Comments you provide during this period will be the foundation for the development of the pilot guidance which will be used to create the final regulations. Just a couple of quick housekeeping notes. We won't be taking a roll call today as the operator has captured a list of the participants on the call. As the operator mentioned this call will be recorded, and a record of the meeting will be posted on fema.gov/tribal-consultation. Today you will hear from Region VII Regional Administrator, Beth Freeman. A native of Iowa, Beth came to Region VII from Senator Harkins office in Iowa, where she spent 18 years working as the Senator's regional director and managed operations for six Iowa offices, including all relevant emergency and disaster response coordination statewide. She has been with the region since 2009 and also served as the regional administrator here for a stint back in 2000. So she is quite familiar with our area. Beth Freeman 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 10 minutes for you to provide comments. The operator will then close the line and we'll move on to the next topic. You may also provide your written comments through some additional venues. One of which is to go online to the federal register notice docket ID. Another would be to go through FEMA's online collaboration site, IdeaScale. Another would be to go through our email inbox -- which is just tribalconsultation, that's just one word -- tribalconsultation@fema.dhs.gov. And you can also go the old fashion way, which is just via postal mail. So our regional tribal liaison, Scott Weinberg who is sitting right beside me has sent this information out already via both traditional postal mail and email. But you should feel free to contact him for any of this information at jonathan.weinberg@fema.dhs.gov. And Scott's number, he does go by Scott, is 816-283-7536.

Now we will hear from Beth Freeman, the Region VII Regional Administrator.

Beth Freeman: Thank you Mike. Good morning everyone. As everyone is aware on January 29 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 government-to-government relationships between FEMA and federal recognized tribal governments, and will enhance the way FEMA supports tribal communities before, during and after disasters. I want to commend the efforts of tribal leadership representatives and organizations who have made this change a reality. The amendment reflects FEMA's administrator's three core principles regarding tribal governments. One, federally recognized tribal governments are sovereign governments, the Stafford Act now clearly reflects federally recognized tribal government status as sovereign nations, giving them the same status as states when requesting federal disaster assistance. Two, FEMA has a government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribal governments. And three, 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. However changing the Stafford Act to recognize tribal sovereignty is just the beginning. Through this consultation process we will hear from you, tribal leaders, tribal emergency management 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 in today's call and informing the development of the pilot guidance. Remember that you may also provide your written comments at the federal register IdeaScale or the email inbox that we sent to you. With that, I'll turn it back to Mike.

Mike Cappannari:  Thanks Beth, appreciate it. And apologize again, we had a little snafu with our mute button. Our speakers today will describe specific aspects of the programs as applied to states and territories. We are soliciting your input to modify the requirements to fit tribal government needs. We will now hear a quick overview of the declarations tribes may request and assistance that may be made available. So we'll hear from Dennis Moffett about the declarations and disaster assistance process.

Dennis Moffett: Good morning everyone. My name is Dennis Moffett, I'm the Deputy Director for the Recovery Division here in Region VII. What I want to cover is an overview of the declarations and the disaster assistance that's offered. The Stafford Act assistance is intended to supplement state, tribal and local resources. The federal government will only provide supplemental disaster assistance under the Act when a state or tribe is overwhelmed and response to the event is beyond the state or tribe's capacity or capability to respond. In general, upon receiving a request for a declaration FEMA assesses the impact of the event and makes a recommendation to the President. But it is the President, his discretion, to determine whether or not the situation warrants supplemental assistance under the Act to make that declaration. Tribal governments can request the following two types of declarations. The first is called an emergency declaration. Emergency declarations are to supplement states and local efforts to save and protect lives, property, public health and safety, or even to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe. The types of assistance rendered under emergency declaration are almost exclusively limited to what we call Direct Federal Assistance; that means there's generally no grants given, these are first response type federal assistance efforts.  Major disaster declarations, the second type of request for declaration that you may request. Major disaster declaration provides a much wider range of federal assistance to both individuals and to make repairs and even sometimes replace disaster damaged infrastructure. This would be everything from assistance to individuals and families, temporary housing types of assistance, other needs assistance, to repairing damages to roads and bridges, electrical distribution assistance, water sanitation assistance, that kind of thing. We'll have subject matter experts that will follow through and give more detailed information on that later. These requests are a result of a national catastrophes are really regardless of cause, a fire, flood or explosion. The following are requirements for making either a request for an emergency or a major disaster declaration. The request must be submitted by the chief executive of the federally recognized tribal government. That request must be submitted within 30 days of the incident occurring. And it has been our practice, and as often happens, the states and tribes cannot meet that 30 day time period because of just the exigent circumstances. And so the regulations do allow that if a request for additional time is made within that 30 day timeframe, that we can give due consideration provided that there are sufficient reasons for the delay. The basis for the request for both an emergency or major disaster declaration is 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 the following, and these are general in nature. Confirmation that appropriate actions under the tribal government law have been taken and that the tribe's emergency plan has been executed as directed by the proper tribal authorities. It must also include an estimate of the amount and severity of damages and losses stating the impact of a disaster on the public as well as the private sector. So it's both your impacts to your individuals, as we as to your public infrastructure. You will also need to include information describing the nature and amount of tribal government resources which have been or will be committed to alleviate the results of the impacts of that disaster. You'll need to certify that the tribe will meet all applicable cost share requirements that are required. You'll need to comply with all the grants administrative requirements as you normally would in any other grant program. And when requesting public assistance, hazard mitigation, grant program or the other needs assistance under the Individual Assistance Program, there are administrative plans required, and those then you will need to commit to. If the tribe is requesting a major disaster declaration then a joint tribal FEMA preliminary damage assessment -- and I'm sure you've heard the term PDAs -- will be conducted to determine the extent of the damages to your public infrastructure. These damages are then used and included in your request, and makes up the case to include in your justification to ascertain the need for federal disaster assistance. More information on these requirements can be found at the FEMA Web site Mike had given earlier, fema.gov/tribal-consultation. I did go on that last night just to see if we could readily access it, and believe you me you need to type in the whole thing to get there. With that, I'll turn it back over to Mike for any comments.

Mike Cappannari:  Thanks very much Dennis. And just to follow up, a lot of the information that we've been speaking about regarding other means of providing comments has been provided earlier by our Regional Travel Liaison. And we can certainly go ahead and continue to push that information out. So we're about to start the first comment period that we're going to have a series of these this morning. I really want to encourage you all to provide whatever input that you have, questions, comments. We're going to have a series of these comment periods, but this is really an opportunity to hear from you. So with that, operator, I will now open it up for comments, first from tribal executives, then operator if we could please have those instructions.

Telephone Operator: Yes. If you'd like to make a comment or provide input, please press star and then 1 on your touchtone telephone. If you're using a speakerphone please make sure that your mute function is turned off to allow your signal to reach our equipment. Again, press star 1 to make a comment or provide input. We'll pause for just a moment to allow everyone an opportunity to signal.

And again, as a reminder, that is star 1 to make a comment or provide input.

And we'll go next to Joe Middleton with Sac and Fox Police Department.

Joe Middleton: Hi you all. One of the questions that we had is on the cost share, it was talking about a 75/25 cost share in there. And I guess one of the concerns has been being the fact that the majority of our monies received from the tribe is through grant programs as it is. And that would be an extra burden is to try to come up with that 25% that you're talking about in that share grant costing. And so I wanted to kind of make it known, that you know, for us that would be seemingly a very hard step to try to take. And I wanted to put that out there.

Mike Cappannari:  Yes, thanks Joe very much for your comment. I know that throughout the discussion this morning we're going to be getting into even greater detail regarding cost share, so we can talk to that later. We certainly appreciate the comment and that's certainly something that will be included in the federal register as we work through the implementation of the pilot program.

Joe Middleton: Okay.

Mike Cappannari:  Thank you Sir.

Telephone Operator: And I have no other questions in queue at this time.

Mike Cappannari:  Thank you operator. We will now hear an overview of the Individual Assistance Program. I'll now defer to Candy Newman our Branch Chief for Individual Assistance.

Candy Newman: Thank you Mike. And good morning everyone. Individual Assistance is as it sounds, and the programs provide assistance directly to individuals and to households. The primary types of FEMA disaster assistance that may be made available by major disaster declarations for individual assistance include temporary housing assistance, which provides rental assistance to pre-disaster renters and owners who are displaced by a disaster. It also can reimburse lodging expenses that are accrued when folks are displaced, and also home repairs and replacement to pre-disaster occupant homeowners. This assistance is 100% federally funded; The other type is other needs assistance, which provides financial assistance for replacement of personal property and/or repair and replacement of transportation and can also provide reimbursement for a disaster related medical, dental and funeral expenses. The Stafford Act sets the cost share for other needs assistance at 75% federal, 25% non-federal. The Stafford Act does not give the President authority to waive the other needs assistance cost share. All other individual assistance programs have no cost share.

Currently when a major disaster request includes individual assistance, FEMA uses the following criteria to determine whether federal assistance is needed. These are the current procedures as developed for states. We do need your input to modify these requirements to fit tribal government needs. The first is 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 or scattered damages throughout the state. Next is trauma. FEMA considers the degree of trauma to the communities. Some of the conditions that might cause trauma include large numbers of injuries or deaths. Also large scale disruption of normal community functions and services, such as access to medical services, grocery stores, gas for vehicles, school closures, that type of thing. Also emergency needs such as extended or wide spread loss of power or loss of water. And we also consider special populations. We look at whether special populations such as low income, the elderly or the unemployed are affected and whether they may have a greater need for assistance. We also consider assistance that's been provided through voluntary and faith-based organizations. We look at the extent of assistance that's been provided through these organizations, and state and local programs, that meet the needs of disaster survivors. And then we also look at insurance coverages; the uninsured or underinsured. By law FEMA cannot duplicate assistance with insurance. We do need your comments to help us in the future in this. And with this I will turn it back to Mike.

Mike Cappannari:  Thanks very much Candy for that presentation. As I indicated earlier, we really appreciate whatever input you want to provide. First we want to hear from tribal executives, but anyone who's participating on the phone -- subject matter experts, state emergency management -- we really look forward to hearing comments that you have regarding what is a big change. So operator with that, we will turn it over for comments and if you could go ahead with the instructions again.

Telephone Operator: Again, press star 1 to make a comment or provide input. And again, if you're using a speakerphone please make sure that your mute function is turned off to allow your signal to reach our equipment. And we'll pause again to allow everyone an opportunity to signal.  Again, as a reminder that is star 1 to make a comment or provide input.  

Mr. Cappannari I have no questions in queue at this time.

Mike Cappannari:  Thank you operator. We're now going to hear an overview of public assistance criteria from Jim Nelson, our Public Assistance Branch Chief. And then we'll open it up again for comments. Here's Jim.

Jim Nelson: Thanks Mike. Good morning everybody. Public assistance provides supplemental financial assistance to state, tribal and local governments and certain non-profit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster damaged facilities. And these are as a result of a presidentially declared, or some type of a declared disaster. Now 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. However, this is very infrequent and normally it does not happen. Currently when a major disaster request includes public assistance, FEMA uses the following criteria to make a recommendation to the President whether the assistance is warranted. Now these current procedures are as developed for states. And as mentioned earlier with the Individual Assistance Program, we encourage and need your input to modify these requirements to fit your tribal governmental needs. Here are the criteria that I mentioned earlier, they are follows. First, insurance coverage in force. For state's 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 the disaster. Another criteria is hazard mitigation. FEMA also considers the extent to which state and local government mitigation measures contributed to the reduction of disaster damages for the disaster that's under consideration. Another criteria, recent multiple disasters. FEMA evaluates the 12 month disaster history to better understand the overall impact on a 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. Another criteria, programs of other federal assistance. FEMA also considers the programs of other federal agencies because at times their programs of assistance might more appropriately meet the needs created by the disaster. Localized impacts. FEMA evaluates the impact of a disaster at the county and local government level, as well as the impact on American Indian, Alaskan Native Tribal government levels. This is because at times there are extraordinary concentrations of damage that might warrant federal assistance, even if the statewide per capita is not met. This is particularly true in situations where critical facilities are involved or where localized per capita impacts might be extremely high. The estimated cost of the assistance is another criteria. Many of you may know this has public assistance per capita indicator, and the $1 million minimum. FEMA evaluates the estimated cost of public assistance against the statewide population. This provides a sense of proportional impact on the population of a state. For events occurring in Fiscal Year 2013 we use a figure of $1.37 per capita as a state indicator that the disaster is of such size that might warrant federal assistance. This number is adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index or the CPI. FEMA has also established, as I mentioned, a minimum of $1 million in public assistance in estimated damages per disaster based on the belief that we can reasonably expect that at the least populated states to cover this level of public assistance damage. This concludes the Public Assistance portion of this discussion. At this time I'll turn it back to Mike for comments.

Mike Cappannari:  Thanks very much Jim. Operator we're going to go ahead and open it up for comments. I did want to just highlight one of the pieces that Jim talked through and that was, Jim indicated that the $1.37 per capita is a state indicator. So we'd be interested in hearing any input from tribes or any other subject matter experts out there related to this, or any of the pieces that Jim spoke to. So operator if we can go ahead and open it up for questions.

Telephone Operator: And once again, press star 1 to make a comment or provide input. And again, if you're on a speakerphone please make sure that your mute function is turned off to allow your signal to reach our equipment. We'll pause for just a moment to allow everyone an opportunity to signal for a question.

And again, that is star 1 if you wish to provide a comment or input. And again, we'll pause.

We'll go first to Matthew May with Winnebago Area Emergency Management.

Matthew May: Hello this is Matthew. I just had a question on that million dollar figure. Just to clarify that a little bit for me, that first million, where is that supposed to come from if it's strictly a tribal disaster?

Dennis Moffett: Matthew this is Dennis Moffett. The million dollar indicator was established by Congress several years ago. And it's one of the six criteria used to determine whether or not public assistance is warranted. It has been applied to the state, it's a state criteria. For your information, we've had to my knowledge, two additional declarations - or two tribal declarations probably in the last six months. Both of those tribes incurred damages greater than $1 million each. But that is one of the criteria that we need comments on from the tribal governments to see if that's realistic to maintain, if there's other figures or other means that you deem appropriate for us to make that judgment.

Matthew May: Thanks for the clarification.

Dennis Moffett: Yes Sir.

Telephone Operator: And we'll go next to Kenna Robinson, Omaha Tribe Emergency Management.

Marcella Clark: This is Marcella Clark from the Omaha Tribe Emergency Management. I have a comment on the 1.37 per capita amount. And historically, the state has never helped the Omaha Tribe with financial assistance. So having said that, could that change for tribes if they have the same issue with the states that they're in, that that could change, that per capita number could change for us?

Dennis Moffett: Marcella, this is Dennis again. You're absolutely right; that is a criteria we are seeking considerations from you, comments on the tribes on as to the cost per capita indicators for tribes, if in fact that is indeed a viable criteria for ascertaining the need for supplemental federal disaster assistance. Right now that's applied to states. And we need comments from you as to whether we need to apply something similar to individual tribes, or in fact other criteria.

Marcella Clark:  The other concern we had here in our office was the insured versus the non-insured under the individual assistance. And we have very little individual homeowners. And because of that, as compared to, "Can they afford their own home, once they get their own home," it is hard for them to have the insurance for their home. So can that be changed too, or can that be looked at as far as helping them with assistance under the non-insured?

Candy Newman: To clarify the requirement on insurance, what we look at when we're considering those is actually really the number of folks that are uninsured or underinsured. That actually supports driving a declaration versus the number of people that FEMA having a requirement that individuals be insured. But yes, we'd love to also, you know, collect your comments on the insurance piece. And also on ownership itself. I believe you mentioned ownership. And we need help from you guys on evaluating how you determine home ownership, whether it's assistance is available on an individual assistance to renters and home owners. It's just the home repair replacement part is only available to homeowners. So we need your assistance in helping us see or determine how it is that your government determines ownership of homes for these families.

Mike Cappannari:  And to amplify on Candy's point -- this is Mike -- that really is the purpose of this call, to get this good input, these good concerns and questions, as this conversation we are having now will ultimately be taken into consideration when we're developing the pilot program. So certainly please go ahead if you have other questions, comments, but this is exactly what we need.

Telephone Operator: And once again, press star 1 to make a comment or provide input. And we'll now go to Ram Dhanwada with the Sac Fox tribe.

Ram Dhanwada: This is Ram Dhanwada. I'm calling - again, same question that the Omaha tribe had, the $1.37 figure. That number is used statewide, but then it may not be the same for the tribal members here. So how do you go by that? And my second question is the home ownership. In our tribe's case all the homes that are built on the settlement belongs to the tribe. And the tribe assigns a tribal member just the living privileges. So how does - if the disaster happens, how does FEMA cover that?

Dennis Moffett: This is Dennis Moffett again. In response to your first question, the $1.37 cost per capita impact is determined by evaluating the overall damages to the state, and equating them or putting a monetary figure to those under the public assistance program, and then dividing that figure by the population of that state. And you end up with a cost per capita indicator. That current figure, and it's adjusted annually, is now as you said, "$1.37," per person, per state. But it's applied to the state. And what we're looking for as part of the consultation with the tribes, is to whether or not that singular criteria is even appropriate in your case; if it is appropriate, how we would best apply it solely to the tribal population if that is something that we need to consider; or if there's other factors. So it is not something that we will automatically consider in the pilot program, but we are seeking your input as to whether that factor has really any bearing whatsoever, or if it has a bearing with only respect to tribal population, since it's the tribe that would be making the request, or if there's other similar factors that we could use to readily identify impacts that are clearly discernible -- both from any tribe's perspective as well as the federal government -- in order to make these kinds of determinations. With respect to your second question; homeowner - when the tribe owns the homes or even a number of those homes within the tribal properties, those homes then, if they are damaged, fall under the public assistance program. They're really considered damages to public infrastructure. The tribal government owns those homes. Now while the individual homeowners may be available for assistance if individual assistance is designated and authorized by the President, but those homes themselves would be covered under the public assistance program and would be evaluated in accordance with those protocols.

Ram Dhanwada: Okay. In the past I know we had one disaster in 2008, flood. So the tribe tried to get that public assistance and then they didn't do it. You know, the FEMA determined that, you know, based on our - how our home owner assignment document's designed. So we end up changing that, you know, so that it will fall under public assistance.

Dennis Moffett:  Good. That was a good choice then.

Ram Dhanwada: Because you know, individual, then they had to go to FEMA and they had to claim, and you know, they didn't want to be bogged down with that paperwork.

Mike Cappannari: Thank you. Thank you for your comments.

Telephone Operator: And we'll now go back to Matthew May with Winnebago Area Emergency Management.

Matthew May: Hello, this is Matthew again. I have questions on that same line of subject matter. I have two jurisdictions that are serving the native population here; one is the tribal government and one is the state government. Under the public assistance part of that, listening to your comments, does that mean that the ownership, whoever owns it, let's say it was the state entity or the tribal entity who owns the houses; are they the ones that are going to get the reimbursement costs and get those replaced? Or how does that work being - is it an all or nothing tribal or how are you going to address that situation?

Dennis Moffett: Matthew, this is Dennis again. If you'd clarify your question; I'm going to ask you a question if you'd clarify it for me.

Matthew May:  Okay.

Dennis Moffett:  You say, "There are two jurisdictions located on the tribal property?"

Matthew May:  Yes, my reservation covers several jurisdictions that are more than just the (unintelligible) government and they serve native populations within those jurisdictions. But all of the stuff I kind of am hearing, and I'm not trying to judge anybody here, I'm just - it's what I'm listening and hearing is, "This is a tribal proposition or not." And I'll speak specifically for the village of Winnebago, that the village of Winnebago is a subdivision of the State of Nebraska, but they own the tribal housing program. So if they were to come - or if a storm were to come in and it would wipe out tribal housing, how would I address that?

Dennis Moffett:  I'm not sure if we can actually resolve your specific question on this particular - in this venue.

Matthew May:  Okay. I'm just throwing that out there for a comment, just so you know that there's some more hairy stuff out there.

Dennis Moffett:  If you would - you can bring that up certainly in your comments. I might also recommend that you speak with our tribal liaison, and you've got Scott's information, convey that information. I did take notes here and I can get back with you. But if you'd convey that...

Matthew May:  Okay, that's fine.

Dennis Moffett:  ...in writing to him and we could follow-up with you.

Matthew May:  Definitely don't want to sidetrack, just appreciate it.

Dennis Moffett:  Yes Sir.

Mike Cappannari: Thank you for the comments Matthew.

Telephone Operator: And again I have no other comments in queue.

Mike Cappannari: Thank you operator. We will now hear a brief overview of Hazard Mitigation Assistance from Melissa Janssen, our Mitigation Division Branch Chief, and then we'll follow the same format and again open it up for comments. So here's Melissa.

Melissa Janssen: Thanks Mike, and good morning everyone. 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, total mitigation funding that would be available in a disaster declaration, is based on a percentage of up to 15% of the total obligation for that disaster. Let me emphasize that if a tribe is the primary grantee and 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. And again, we welcome your comments. We need your comments to help with our pilot program to address the tribe's needs in trying to deliver the Hazard Mitigation Assistance to them.

Mike Cappannari: Thanks very much Melissa. Operator, we'll go ahead and open it up for any comments at this time.

Telephone Operator: And once again, please press star 1 to make a comment or provide input. And again, we'll pause to allow everyone an opportunity to signal.

That is star 1 if you wish to provide a comment or provide input.

And we'll go to Luke Terry with the Kickapoo Environmental Office.

Luke Terry: So hi, this is Luke Terry. My question relates to some email traffic that I got from the Kansas Department of Emergency Management recently on some regional mitigation planning that's going on. And I guess I'm a little confused on which way we should go. Currently we have an approved hazard mitigation plan. And it sounds like that the State of Kansas is welcoming the tribes to participate in their program, but it almost sounded like if we did that we would have to continue to work through the state in emergency - or I guess in hazard mitigation future funding. And with the Stafford Act changing, I don't know if that's the way the tribe wants to go. So I don't know if there's any - can you shed any light on kind of what the state's doing versus the alternatives?

Melissa Janssen: I'm trying to - let me ask you a question to try to clarify. So you're saying,  "That you currently, the tribe, currently has a hazard mitigation plan?"

Luke Terry:   Correct.

Melissa Janssen: And of course the state has their own hazard mitigation plan. The state - and I'm glad to hear that they welcome you to join their declaration if they need to come in for one. But you do not - the tribe does not have to.

However, the tribe is going to have to determine what their best options are, if they want to come in as a primary grantee for a disaster. And that's sort of on a case by case basis. With regard to hazard mitigation, if you do come in as a grantee there's nothing that goes through the state for the Hazard Mitigation Assistance. It would be direct to the tribe. And the projects that the tribe would decide they want to do, assuming they're eligible, types of projects of course, and the funding would be directly towards them. There may be - and I'm not sure if I'm answering your question.

Luke Terry:   Somewhat, yes.

Melissa Janssen: Okay. And perhaps there is planning going on known as FERA planning, which may be what you're thinking of, which is sort of hazard - it's the hazard - or natural hazards plan, and also incorporates manmade disasters such as terrorism and stuff like that. But that really doesn't come too much into play with the disaster declaration. What we're talking about is the hazard mitigation plan that needs to be in place, which apparently you have in place, which would make you eligible to receive hazard mitigation funds.

Luke Terry:   Okay.

Melissa Janssen: Does that make sense?

Luke Terry: Yes. And the good, one good point about is the - if we do work with the state they will update - we'll be part of the updating process, so we'll get our plan updated for free, which would, if we were to do it on our own would cost us, you know, some big bucks so.

Melissa Janssen: Right, okay. I understand what you're saying. So they are helping you to fund the update through a grant that they've received.

Luke Terry:   Yes.

Melissa Janssen: All right, very good.

Luke Terry:   Thank you.

Mike Cappannari: Thank you for your comments. And you know, not only are all the comments, questions, concerns, however you want to couch them, that we're hearing today going to be used when we look - see how we're going to develop the pilot program. But for any specific questions we can always follow-up -- we meaning FEMA Region VII -- through our tribal liaison. We can connect with you and go through any particular questions that you may have that are kind of specific to situations that you might be in. So thank you for your comments.

Telephone Operator: And I have no other comments in queue at this time.

Mike Cappannari: Great, thank you operator. So up to this point in the call we've heard some background on mitigation assistance obviously, FEMA's declaration process, disaster assistance -- both public assistance and individual assistance. We're now going to turn the call back over to Dennis Moffett and he's going to talk through cost share criteria, I know a subject on probably the forefront of a lot of folks' minds.

Dennis Moffett:  This is Dennis. I just wanted to wrap up the discussion again, and reiterate what we said about federal cost shares under the declaration process. Under the Stafford Act, the President can contribute up to 75% of the cost of hazard mitigation. He can contribute up to 75% of the cost of hazard mitigation. Stafford Act does not allow for changes. The Act sets the cost share for other needs assistance under the individual assistance program at 75% federal share. There's no allowances to modify that. However, the cost share for temporary housing assistance is 100% federally funded.

The Stafford Act sets the federal cost share for public assistance at no less than 75%. And as Jim Nelson, the Branch Chief for Public Assistance mentioned earlier, that may be modified. So the public assistance is no less than 75%, but that can be modified at the discretion of the President. The President only adjusts the non-federal cost share for public assistance under certain conditions. That discretion to adjust or waive rests solely with him. FEMA's regulations do outline a criteria that we use when recommending to the President whether or not to adjust the federal cost share. That regulation as it's currently written, adjusts the federal cost share from 75% to not more than 90% when actual federal obligations under the act meet or exceed a statewide per capita impact -- so that regulation applies to the state as it's currently written -- of $133 per capita. If you do the math in any of the four states in this region, that is truly a major, major event -- catastrophic in our terms -- before that recommendation from FEMA would be made to modify the cost share from 75 to 90%. However, as I stated earlier, "The President has the authority to modify that cots share at his own discretion." In past practice that has happened but for very limited amounts of time, say for debris removal, for just a short period of time given the exigent circumstances of an individual disaster. This is very infrequently done. In making this recommendation to the President, FEMA may also consider the impact of major disaster declarations in that same state over the previous 12 months.

As in all of our comments we've made, we are seeking and soliciting information from you, the tribal governments, as to what criteria you believe should be met, could be met, what kind of information can be reported that can make the case to changing the cost share under the public assistance program, what that criteria might be. So we look to you to provide that information to us. FEMA also welcomes comments on other factors that may be appropriate to FEMA to consider when evaluating the potential cost share to the tribal governments. So again, summarizing that information, we're looking to you to provide us comments on why cost shares should be adjusted.

Thank you. Turn this back over to Mike.

Mike Cappannari: Thanks very much Dennis. Operator we'll open it up for questions or comments.

Telephone Operator: And once again, star 1 if you wish to make a comment or provide input. And again we'll pause.

Okay and we'll go first to Ram Dhanwada with the Sacs Fox tribe.

Ram Dhanwada: ...going to send any kind of summary of this conference call stuff to all the tribes in your region?

Mike Cappannari: Yes Ram, and we can follow-up with you. Through Scott Weinberg, our Regional Tribal Liaison, we can provide you whatever information you would like. As we indicated earlier, or perhaps the operator did, a script of the call will be available and we can shoot that out to you so you have that to look over.

Ram Dhanwada: Okay, thank you.

Telephone Operator: And again I have no other comments in queue.

Mike Cappannari: Great. Well thank you. We are going to hear once more from Dennis Moffett. I'm going to have to buy this guy another bottle of water after we wrap up. He's going to provide an overview of the process for designating areas eligible for assistance and kind of talk through the definition of tribal lands. And again a recurring theme throughout the remainder of the discussion, very interested in hearing whatever input, comments, that you have. So with that, Dennis?

Dennis Moffett:  Okay, the topic is the areas that are designated for assistance by the President when the tribe makes a request for either an emergency or major disaster declaration. So when the president declares that an emergency or major disaster exists in the state, or exists on tribal land, he also designates areas that are eligible for assistance at that time. Additional areas can be designated later as they're so identified. FEMA's regulatory definition of designated area eligible for assistance under each program, whether it's public assistance, individual assistance or hazard mitigation, is the following; any emergency or major disaster affected portion of a state which has been determined eligible for federal assistance. In practice, FEMA typically identifies counties, parishes (such as you would have in Louisiana), independent cities, like the City of St. Louis is an independency in the State of Missouri, and Indian tribal governments as designated areas eligible for assistance. FEMA is soliciting comments from our tribal governments on how FEMA should designate tribal areas eligible for assistance for any and each of the FEMA assistance programs; whether it's public assistance, individual assistance or the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. And then we will use that definition of tribal lands as implemented in our pilot program.

Mike Cappannari: Thanks very much Dennis. Operator, we'll turn it over to you for any questions or comments.

Telephone Operator: And once again, please press star 1 to make a comment or provide input. And again we'll pause for just a moment to allow everyone an opportunity to signal.

And I have no one in our queue at this time.

Mike Cappannari: Great. Thank you operator. Well we're at the point of the call now where we'll just go ahead and ask Tribal Presidents, Governor's Office, Emergency Management Chiefs, Chairs, other executive members, to provide any input or concerns that they may have. So operator we can just go and open it up now for any comments.

Telephone Operator: And once again that is star 1 to make a comment or to provide input. And again we'll pause.

And I have no one in our queue at this time.

Mike Cappannari: Thank you. Well I'd like to go ahead and conclude this tribal consultation conference call. And I'll turn it over once again to our Regional Administrator Beth Freeman for her final remarks. So here's Beth.

Beth Freeman:  Thank you for participating in Region VII's consultation call. A transcript of this call, as we'd mentioned, will be posted on the FEMA.gov/tribal-consultation Web site in the next few days. The consultation site also includes important background information on declarations and disaster assistance. So I would encourage you to go and take a look at that site. I do want to thank you for your time. You know, everyone has busy schedules and I appreciate the time that you've spent today with us. We do look forward to advancing FEMA's relationship with tribal leaders, emergency managers and disaster recovery subject matter experts. And with that we'll be back to Mike.

Mike Cappannari: Thanks Beth. And again just wanted to highlight that the deadline to provide comments is April 22. There are, as you have heard from us, a myriad of ways that you can go ahead and provide comments, one of which of course is this call. The comments we have heard will be used to develop the pilot program, they will be used to develop that implementation. Probably the easiest way to go ahead and provide comments would be tribalconsultation@fema.dhs.gov. But again, we can follow-up with all on the other means to go ahead and submit those comments. Just wanted to thank everyone again. Thought we heard some really good questions, really good comments. And thank you all.

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

END

Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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