Region 9 Tribal Consultation - Thursday, March 21, 2013, 9:00 am Pacific

Main Content

Subject: Emergencies and Major Disaster Declarations Request

Telephone Operator:            At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode until the comment portion of the call. If you’d like to provide a comment at that time, please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone phone. Today’s conference is being recorded. If you have any objection, you may disconnect. Now I’d like to turn the call over to your FEMA Region 9 Tribal Liaison Tessa Badua-Larsen.

 

Tessa Badua-Larsen:            Thank you operator. Good morning everyone and welcome to the Region 9 Consultation conference call. I want to thank you all for taking the time to call in today to share your input on the implementation of tribal declarations. The purpose of today’s call is to hear from you - the tribal leaders, tribal emergency managers, disaster recovery subject matter experts and other interested tribal members or partners to capture your thoughts, comments and concerns about FEMA’s implementation of tribal major disaster and emergency declarations. This is just the beginning of the consultation process. During the open comment period running through April 22, 2013, the comments you provide today will be the foundation for the development of the pilot guidance which will be used to create the final regulations. I would like to introduce you to our facilitator Randy Brawley Preparedness and Analysis Branch Chief. Mr. (Brawly) you may begin.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Thank you very much Tessa. Quick housekeeping notes. We will not take a roll call today as the operator has captured a list of the participants on today’s call. As the operator mentioned, this call will be recorded. As recordings 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 meeting. Rather the purpose of this meeting is to gather individual input from a diverse group of partners. Today you will hear from Region 9 Deputy Regional Administrator Karen Armes. A long time California resident Karen is a career emergency manager with experience working with tribal governments at the local, state and national levels. Karen has worked at Region 9 for 17 years including three years as the acting Region 9 interim FEMA Regional Administrator at various times throughout her career. Karen Armes 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 comments. The operator will then close the line and we will move to the next topic. Given the number of participants on the line and the limited time we have for each topic, we ask that you limit your comments to allow others the opportunity to provide their input. You may also provide your written comments through the following venues - online at the federal register notice, using FEMA’s online collaboration site - idea scale. You can email: tribalconsultation@fema.dhs.gov as well as send your comments to the postal mailing address provided in the federal register notice. Tessa Badua-Larsen and Heather Duschell sent out this information both in the postal mail and email invitation letters. You may contact either of them for website addresses, email addresses and postal addresses. Now we will hear from Karen Armes - FEMA Region 9 Deputy Regional Administrator.

 

Karen Armes:                         Thank you Randy and good morning 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. It 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 the FEMA administrators’ three core principals regarding tribal governments. The first, that 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. The second core principal that FEMA has a government to government relationship with federally recognized tribal governments. And lastly, that 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 requests 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 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 will hear from you - tribal leaders, emergency management managers and the disaster recovery subject matter experts regarding the items FEMA should consider as we develop pilot guidance to implement tribal declarations.

 

We appreciate your participation on today’s call and informing the development of this pilot guidance. Remember, you may also provide your written comments at the federal register idea scale and at the email inbox: tribalconsultation@fema.dhs.gov. With that I’ll turn it back to Randy.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Thank you very much Karen. Our speakers today will describe specific aspects of the programs 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 JP Henderson our FEMA Region 9 Regional General Council.

 

JP Henderson:                       Good morning. As the deputy 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 or to make a request directly to the US President for a federal emergency or 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 Stafford Act section 401 for major disasters and section 501 for emergencies. The amendment also 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. Under this provision, the president has the authority to waive or adjust the cost share only for public assistance. The amendment 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 the chief executive or tribal government as appropriate. Finally FEMA is required to “consider the unique conditions that affect the general welfare of tribal governments” when implementing this new authority.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Thank you JP. We will now hear a quick overview of declarations tribes may request and assistance that may be available. We will now hear from Terrie Zuiderhoek about the declaration and disaster assistance process.

 

Terrie Zuiderhoek:               Thank you Randy. Stafford Act assistance is intended to supplement state, tribal and local resources. The federal government will only provide supplemental disaster assistance under the Stafford Act when a state or tribe is overwhelmed and the response to the event is beyond the state or tribe’s capability to respond. Upon receiving a request for a declaration, FEMA assesses the impact of the event and makes a recommendation to the president. The president in his discretion may determine that a situation warrants supplemental assistance under the Stafford Act and may make the declaration. Tribal governments can request the following types of declaration - an emergency declaration. And 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. The second type of declaration is 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 the cause - a fire, flood or explosion. The following are requirements for a declaration request. The request must be submitted by the chief executive of the federally recognized tribal government. The request must be submitted within 30 days of the date of the incident. However within 30 days of the incident, the chief executive may submit a written request for additional time. Such request must provide the reasons for the delay. The basis for the request shall be a finding that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the tribe and that federal assistance is necessary. The request must also include confirmation that appropriate action under tribal government law has been taken and the execution of the tribe’s emergency plan has been directed as applicable. The request must also include an estimate of the amount and severity of damages and losses, stating the impact of the disaster on the public and private sector. It must also have information describing the nature, an amount of tribal government resources that have been or will be committed to alleviate the results of the disaster. Preliminary estimates based on a joint FEMA tribal preliminary damage assessment 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 declaration. The request must also contain requirements that the grantee will comply with grant administrative requirements. They must also have a public assistance hazard mitigation grant program and or other needs assistance administrative plans as applicable. More information on these requirements can be found at www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation. And with that, I’ll turn it back to Randy for comments.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Thank you very much Terrie. Operator, we will now open it up for comments first from tribal executives. When you provide your input, if you could please identify your name, title and affiliation before you ask. Operator, can we have those instructions at this time?

 

Telephone Operator:            If you would like to make a comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone phone. One moment please to allow them time to queue up. Again, that’s star 1 at this time.

 

Randy Brawley:                     For everyone listening out there, I’d like to note at this time when you go online at the federal register notice, FEMA actually has some prompts in there to stimulate thought about input you may provide now or in the future. For example, under the title of current requirements and processes for state declarations requests, it says “FEMA is soliciting comments on whether there are circumstances that may prevent a chief executive of an Indian tribal government from complying with these current requirements and processes for declaration requests during the pilot program.” Again, just a note of places for food for thought.

 

Telephone Operator:            And again as a reminder, that’s star 1 at this time if you have any questions, comments or would like to provide any input.

 

Randy Brawley:  Okay, we will have an open comment period towards the end of this session. So if you - if something comes up later regarding this subject, please feel free to bring it up later. Thank you Operator. We will now hear an overview of individual assistance criteria from Steve Miller Individual Assistance Branch Chief then open it up for comment from tribal governments. Here’s Steve Miller.

 

Steve Miller:               Thank you Randy. As Randy indicated, I will address individual assistance as made available by major disaster declarations. Individual assistance is assistance to individuals and households. The individual assistance programs can provide disaster housing which provides grants for rental assistance and or home repairs. This is 100% federally funded. In addition, we provide other need assistance which provides grants for replacement of personal property, transportation, medical, dental and funeral expenses. The Stafford Act sets the cost share for other needs assistance cost at 75% federal, 25% nonfederal. And the Stafford Act does not give the president authority to waive the other needs assistance cost share. All other IA 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 need your input to modify the requirements to fit tribal government needs. FEMA concentration of damages. FEMA evaluates the concentrations of damages to individuals. High concentrations of damages generally indicate a greater need for federal assistance than widespread and scattered damages throughout a state. Next is trauma. FEMA considers the degree of trauma to the communities. Some of the conditions that might cause trauma are large numbers of injuries or deaths, large scale disruption of normal community functions and services and emergency needs such as extended or widespread loss of power or water. We also consider 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. Next we consider voluntary agency assistance. FEMA considers the extent to which voluntary agencies and state or local programs meet the needs of the disaster survivors. And next we consider insurance. FEMA considers the amount of insurance coverage because by law federal disaster assistance cannot duplicate insurance coverage. Remember, FEMA is soliciting comments on whether these individual assistance factors - concentration of damages, trauma, special populations, voluntary agency assistance and insurance - are appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating an Indian tribal government request for individual assistance. FEMA also welcomes comments on whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating Indian tribal government requests for individual assistance. I will turn it back over to Randy Brawley for comments.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Thank you Steve. Operator, we will now open it up for comments first from tribal executives. Again, when you provide your input, if you could please identify your name, title and affiliation before you ask. Operator, may we have those instructions again?

 

Telephone Operator:            Once again, if you would like to make a comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone phone. One moment please to allow them time to queue up. And we’ll take a comment from Roger Tungovia.

 

Roger Tungovia:                   Roger Tungovia Director of Department of Public Safety, Hopi Tribe. I have a question. When you’re talking about the individual assistance, is there a need for the tribe to have building codes, utility codes in place before FEMA can come in and assist the individual? That was something we had to deal with before. Also as far as the insurance, we have a lot of traditional homes that will not be covered under insurance. How would we handle this?

 

Randy Brawley:                     To answer your first question, no the building codes are not necessarily required for us to assist the individual. It is based off of an evaluation of their losses of either personal property or real property or affects which it may have on them such as a disaster related death or medical condition. So that would be the consideration that we would have for building codes. But now to your second question, I’m not really sure as what you’re meaning by the comment traditional type of homes which may not be insurable. We would do the evaluation. Currently we have the opportunity to do an evaluation process standardized. And if you have recommendations on how we would evaluate those types of traditional homes when we’re assessing damages then that would be something that you would include into your comments.

 

Telephone Operator:             Is there anything further sir?

 

Roger Tungovia:                   No, I think that answers it.

 

Telephone Operator:            And we’ll move onto Bob DeLeon.

 

Bob DeLeon:                         Good morning. This is Bob DeLeon with Gila River Indian Community - Emergency Services Director. My question is related to insurance as well. On the self insurance - if the tribe is self insurance where they’re actually providing an insurance fund to cover some damages to only a select few homes, is that covered? Is that considered insured and therefore not covered? And the other question is none of our homes have personal belongings insured. So can you just do items for personal belongings that are destroyed and not the home if it happens to be insured?

 

Steve Miller:               FEMA does take into consideration the insurance that you have on the real property. And also if there are uninsured personal property items, they would be covered as long as the insurance did not cover them.

 

Telephone Operator:            Anything further Mr. DeLeon?

 

Bob DeLeon:                         No, thank you.

 

Telephone Operator:            Once again, that is star 1 with any comments. We’ll go next to (Ada Stevenson).

 

Ada Stevenson:                      Yes, good morning. I would like to comment on the previous comment about traditional housing. I believe that a good example of that would be the Navajo that lived in the holdings. How do you put a value of replacement on that? That’s just an example. But I also had an insurance issue for tribes that have housing authorities on their tribal land. There are also a great number of uninsured traditional houses. When you talk about replacement, is that the cost of the original replacement of those homes or is that the inflationary rate of replacement of today’s home? And how do we apply for that - that cost that we attached?

 

Steve Miller:               FEMA’s individual assistance grant is capped at an annual level. This year it is $31,900 and it’s adjusted annually by the CPI - the consumer price index. That is the maximum grant that is allowable under law for an individual to be utilized for either repair, replacement of personal property or real property.

 

Ada Stevenson:                      Does that also include the insured housing because some of our insurance will only cover up to 70 to 80%. So this is not dual insurance, right?

 

Steve Miller:               No ma’am, this is not dual insurance. By law FEMA is not able to duplicate benefits which might be provided through insurance, voluntary agencies or other federal programs that might come before FEMA’s grants.

 

Ada Stevenson:                      Alright, thank you.

 

Telephone Operator:            And we’ll go next to Shanti Warlick.

 

Shanti Warlick:                     Would this be applicable to an organization such as ours that also include non-recognized tribes? Would they be eligible through the 638 process to apply for this through our organization?

 

Randy Brawley:                    The legislation only allows federally recognized tribes, you know, published on the department of interiors annual list to be eligible to submit direct requests for disaster declarations. Non-federally recognized tribes, you know, would still fall under - if they were able to apply under a state they would still fall under those normal rules.

 

Shanti Warlick:                     Okay.

 

Telephone Operator:            Anything further Mrs. Warlick?

 

Shanti Warlick:                     No, that’s it.

 

Telephone Operator:            Moving onto (Wendy Smith-Reeve).

 

Wendy Smith-Reeve:            Hi. I was just wanting to know if you could explain the difference between - and maybe it’s already been covered - when the tribe owns the housing versus when they’re individually owned homes and what the difference is.

 

Steve Miller:               (Wendy) this is Steve. If it’s a publicly owned housing authority or by a group - whether it’s by the tribe as a group and it would potentially fall under public housing versus the individual’s home which would be covered through individual assistance.

 

Telephone Operator:            Mrs. (Smith-Reeve) anything further?

 

Wendy Smith-Reeve:             No, that’s fine. Thank you.

 

Telephone Operator:             You are welcome. Once again, star 1 at this time.

 

Randy Brawley:                     Excellent questions. Thank you all and thank you operator. We will now hear an overview of public assistance criteria from (Jim Calico) Public Assistance Program Specialist and then open it up for comments for tribal governments. Here’s (Jim Calico).

 

Jim Calico:                 Good morning. Public assistance provides to the state, tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and repair or replacement of disaster damaged facilities. The Stafford Act sets the cost share for public assistance at not less than 75%. The Stafford Act gives the president the authority to waive or adjust the cost share for public assistance. Currently when a 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 the requirements to fit tribal government needs. The first criteria that public assistance looks at are the 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 the disaster. Another criteria is hazard mitigation. FEMA public assistance also considers the extent to which state and local government mitigation measures contributed to the reduction of disaster damages for the disaster under consideration. Another criteria is 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 in which the state has spent its own funds on those disasters. Another criteria are programs of other federal assistance. FEMA public assistance also considers the programs of other federal agencies because at times their programs of assistance might be more appropriately met the needs created by the disaster. We also look at localized impacts. FEMA public assistance evaluates the impact of the disaster at the county and local government level as well as the impact on American Indian, Alaska native tribal government levels. This is because at times there are extraordinary concentrations of damages that might warrant federal assistance even if the statewide per capita is not met. This is particularly true in situations where critical facilities are involved or where localized per capita impacts might be extremely high. We also look at the estimated cost of the assistance. Many of you may know this as the public assistance per capita indicator and $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 disasters of such size that might warrant federal assistance. This number is adjusted annually based on the consumer price index. Finally FEMA has also established a minimum $1 million in public assistance estimated damages per disaster based on the belief that we can reasonably expect even the least populated states to cover this level of public assistance damage. We would like to hear from you whether these factors - localized impacts, insurance coverage in force, hazard mitigation, recent multiple disasters, programs of other federal assistance and the estimated cost of assistance - are appropriate for the evaluation of tribal government requests for public assistance. We would like to hear your thoughts on whether tribal government requests should be evaluated based on a 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 request for public assistance. FEMA also welcomes comments on whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating the level of impact and tribal government’s capability to respond to and recover from an event for public assistance. I will take comments and I will turn you back to Randy.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Thank you very much (Jim). Operator, we will now open it up for comments first from tribal executives. May we have those instructions?

 

Telephone Operator:            Again, if you would like to make a comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone phone. We’ll pause for one moment. We’ll go to Roger Tungovia with the Hopi Tribe.

 

Roger Tungovia:                   Roger Tungovia Director of Department of Public Safety Emergency Services. As far as the threshold minimum of 1 million, I think that’s something that FEMA will have to look at because most tribes will never meet that as far as their damage. I know for Hopi we haven’t got that high. Most is probably about 380,000. So we need to relook at that and maybe base it on the same thing as county and the state $1.37 per cap because I believe some of the tribes are not gaming tribes. So they will not have the funds to deal with that. I know for us that’s something we have to worry about. The other part is when you look at public assistance for the insurance coverage in force for public buildings, we have some public buildings such as that FEMA probably already knows about that are not covered but they are considered public buildings. How are we going to deal with that?

 

Jim Calico:                             Thank you for your comments Roger. First of all, the $1 million threshold will be something that FEMA will seriously consider as part of this consultation process. So we definitely will look at that. As far as the buildings that are not insured, again the regulations state that if the building had not been previously damaged, we basically give you a first bite free so to speak. For general insurance, we will be able to cover it. And then at the second event then we would require that that building be insured if it’s available. As far as flood insurance - you would have to have a flood insurance policy in force and if not then we will actually take a deduction based on what you would have been able to receive under flood insurance.

 

Roger Tungovia:                   Okay. As far as the recommendations on the $1.37 per cap, is that a good idea for the tribes to look at and consider as far as reimbursement purposes?

 

Jim Calico:                             Roger that is going to be looked at. And again, part of this consultation process will be to gather as much data as we can so that we can make a very good judgment as far as the individual tribe situations.

 

Roger Tungovia:                    Okay, thank you.

 

Randy Brawley:                    And Roger this is Randy Brawley. And again - as (Jim) said - of course the $1.37 per capita is a figure that is open for any good ideas out there that people might have that might be more appropriate. In addition, you know, the $1 million limit is kind of a set limit. If anyone has any ideas about what that might be for tribes, we’d appreciate that. And who knows? Maybe it’s a formula rather than a set limit. Anyway, we appreciate comments that anybody has regarding recommendations in that regard.

 

Rose Whitehair:                    Rose Whitehair Navajo Nation.

 

Telephone Operator:             Our next question will come from Rose Whitehair with the Navajo Nation.

           

Rose Whitehair:                    Yes, hello. Can you guys hear me okay? Hello?

 

Telephone Operator:            Yes, we can hear you. Go ahead.

 

Rose Whitehair:                    Okay, great. Thank you. Rose Whitehair Navajo Nation, Emergency Management Director. I just have a couple of things that I’ve been listening in for on the past couple of phone calls. But I think that what we’re talking about here with the smaller tribes - it is going to have to be looked at more on levels of what I can say like thresholds - thresholds and looking at it on a number of different levels and possibly a formula as it was mentioned. We all have different needs. We all have different accessibility. We all have different things that we have to consider for our individual communities. And I think that the reason why we’re having such an issue with insurance and being able to have our facilities insured is that we have a large number of homes that have been passed down from generation to generation and a lot of these are - could possibly be as old as - I mean you have pueblos that there’s no date or age that we can put on these because they’ve been passed down for - like I said - generations. So there’s not really a number that you can put on these homes and that’s the reason why I think we’re having issues with flood insurance - not wanting to being able to have those things covered. So that’s just an example of that - of the difference between our homes versus something that can’t be insured. Another comment that I wanted to discuss was evaluated level of impacts. Again, that’s a formula that we need to start looking at because again, all of us are different and we have multiple areas that we need to consider. And again, that has to do with per capita. It has to do with the poverty levels that we have and the accessibility of the grants and accessibility of other federal agencies that can assist us. The other thing that I also wanted to bring up and it hasn’t been brought up yet is under public assistance. One of the things that I’m learning with this disaster that we’re working through is Native American preference. And under public assistance, one of the things that is pointed out and in the grant program is there’s a portion here that talks about office of equal rights. And one of the things that I wanted to bring up is because they’re local, we Navajo - we have Navajo preference and we also have Native American preference. And so for contractors, I also wanted to just make sure we brought that up that due to the recent multiple disasters, we’ve been having to work with Navajo contractors and take - make that as more of a preference or Native American preference and I want to make sure that that’s brought up and brought up in these conversations that we’re having. That’s all I have for now.

 

Jim Calico:                             Thank you for the comments.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Randy Brawley here. Rose great comments, especially in particular with respect to insurance. Of course a lot of tribes have difficultly insuring or they self insure. So if anyone has suggestions out there as to how we may treat that in the future in terms of insurance that should be made available, that would be a great input.

 

Telephone Operator:            Once again, that’s star 1 at this time.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Again, thank you all for the great comments and questions. We will now hear a brief overview of hazard mitigation assistance from Sally Ziolkowski Director, Mitigation Division and open it up for comment first from tribal governments. Here’s Sally Ziolkowski.

 

Sally Ziolkowski:                   Thank you Randy and good morning everyone. Hazard mitigation assistance is available after a disaster through the hazard mitigation grant program. The hazard mitigation grant program is assistance to state, Indian 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. The total mitigation funding for a disaster is based on a percentage - up to 15% of the total obligations that is direct federal assistance for the disaster. I would like to reemphasize a comment that was provided earlier in our briefing that 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. FEMA welcomes comments on whether 30 days is an appropriate amount of time for tribal governments to submit an approved or approvable tribal mitigation plan during this 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 period. With those comments, I’ll turn it back to Randy Brawley. Thank you.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Thank you very much Sally. Operator, we’ll now open it up for comments first from tribal executives. May we have those instructions again please?

 

Telephone Operator:            Absolutely. If you’d like to make a comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone phone. Again, we’ll hear from Roger Tungovia with the Hopi tribe.

 

Roger Tungovia:                   Roger Tungovia Director of Department of Public Safety Emergency Services. I’d like to make a comment on the timeline for the 30 days. I think for the tribes if they haven’t gone through a mitigation plan before, that’s too short of a time especially if you have new people coming in that don’t understand the process and what needs to be involved with it. I know we did it but that’s because I have people who have already gone through it before. But when you consider all the other tribes, there’s going to be tribes that are close to the urban areas that haven’t really had to do this. So it’s going to take them longer. So I think you need to extend that time for that so they have time to work through it. I know some of the counties use a consultant to do this but it still takes time because consultants that come in do not understand your area on where they’re at. So the tribes are going to do the same thing. That’s something they’re going to have a problem with. The other comment is when you look at the mitigation grant - I have a question. Can that grant be used by the tribes to revise or update their plans on what they need to do as far as emergency operation plans, mitigation plans? I know FEMA requires five year update revision. Is that still the requirement?

 

Sally Ziolkowski:                    Roger this is Sally Ziolkowski and thank you very much for your insightful comments. I know that you have been working with our staff on current hazard mitigation grant projects and you have been successful in preparing a mitigation plan that is still within the five year cycle of being approved. So thank you for your efforts. We appreciate the comments that you made on behalf of others - especially new tribes that might be seeking federal disaster assistance and the time that it could take to prepare a plan. We also have scheduled regional workshop sessions that provide some guidance on preparing a plan and where appropriate we’ve made recommendations on how plans might share resources or samples of their work with other tribal jurisdictions. We encourage that but again it is something that is done tribe sharing with tribes. And that’s been successful in the past to help expedite some of the planning process. Regarding the mitigation grants and the HMGP program specifically, there is an opportunity for the tribes to use - I believe it’s up to 7% of the HMGP dollar amount to look at mitigation planning updates. So if that is the question that you have then it is under the 7% that could be used for mitigation plan updates. Thank you very much Roger for your comments.

 

Roger Tungovia:                   Okay, thank you.

 

Telephone Operator:            Moving onto Rose Whitehair from the Navajo Nation.

 

Rose Whitehair:                    Yes, hi. Rose Whitehair Emergency Management Director, Navajo Nation. One of the things that we’re hitting here with our movement forward with FEMA is the timelines. We’re having a little bit of an issue trying to make sure that we are within the deadlines and it’s a little bit difficult in the sense that we’re a much larger tribe. And I’m sure some of the smaller tribes are probably dealing with the same issues as well too. But the timelines are a little bit strict and have been giving me a lot more white hairs than what I originally started with. Those are just some of the things that I’m noticing here and I’ve mentioned to some of the colleagues that I’ve been working with here that the deadlines are a little bit strict for us and we’re working it through though. I mean the people that you have here have been great but again I’m sure that those are issues that other tribes would be dealing with too. Plus we also have some other issues that for ceremonial wise - and I mentioned this to some of the people that we have here as well - is that yesterday we had Navajo Nation prayer day and some of the - a large number of people were out celebrating and taking off a whole two days of prayer. So those are other issues that you may be finding with other tribes too that celebrate, that have feasts or that celebrate equinox or some of the other ceremonies that may take days and may take people out of their offices - out of the government offices. And it will take people away from getting paper signed or again, meeting these deadlines. And that’s just one thing that I also wanted to share with you as well.

 

Terrie Zuiderhoek:               Thank you Rose. This is Terrie. Those are exactly the kind of comments that we’re looking for.

 

Rose Whitehair:                    Great. Thanks Terrie.

 

Telephone Operator:            Moving onto Vernon James with San Carlos Apache Tribe.

 

Vernon James:                      Good morning. My name is Vernon James and I’m with the office of the general manager. I have a question with regards to other federal programs. Using other federal programs as opposed to tribal dollars, 638 allows IHS and BIA funding to be used as match in many cases. I’m wondering if we can perhaps look at using the justification for matching the 25% required of tribes. Justification for that would also include the fact that many tribes lack the kind of infrastructure or lack the kind of property taxes that go to support many non-reservation or many non-tribal governmental entities that provide for the match. That’s the comment I have. Thank you.

 

JP Henderson:                       Thank you for that comment and this is JP Henderson the regional council again. Just for everyone’s awareness we do look at the specific federal programs that tribes are requesting to use for matching funds. We have to determine for each specific program if it can be used to match our funds. But I do know there are several programs available to tribal government from our previous years that we do allow to use for that match. We just do it on a case by case basis.

 

Telephone Operator:            Once again that is star 1 at this time with any comments.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Okay, Randy Brawley here. This is a great discussion. As I mentioned earlier with monetary numbers, again if people have any idea or recommendations about time limits - whether 30 days or a recommendation of what it ought to be if 30 days isn’t the right number. I’d love to hear that obviously either in this forum or any of the other methods of providing input under the solicitation process.

 

Telephone Operator:            And we’ll take a follow-up from Vernon James with San Carlos Apache Tribe.

 

Vernon James:                      Thank you and again I appreciate the time and given to this effort to make comments. With regard to the last comment made to my comment, I would like to suggest that we have it in writing that many tribes can use other federal agencies based on a review of the facts on a case by case basis. I would just like to get it documented that that’s a possibility. Thank you.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Okay, well like I said, you know, we do have to review those on a case by case basis just to make sure that those specific programs do allow it to be used for that purpose to make sure we’re complying with our own legal requirements. But, you know, we do document it for the individual cases to show that it is allowed to be used for that purpose.

 

Telephone Operator:            There are no further questions.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Again, thank you all. Now that we’ve heard from some background on FEMA’s declaration process, disaster assistance and the change to the Stafford Act, we will now hear about the cost share criteria from Terrie Zuiderhoek Director Recovery Division and then open it up for comment from tribal governments. Here’s Terrie Zuiderhoek.

 

Terrie Zuiderhoek:                 Thank you. 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 under the individual assistance program at 75% federal and 25% nonfederal. The Stafford Act sets the federal cost share for the public assistance program at not less than 75%. The Stafford Act allows the president to contribute up to 75% of the cost of hazard mitigation grant program. The president may only adjust the nonfederal cost share for the public assistance program. The discretion to adjust or waive the nonfederal cost share rests solely with the US president. FEMA 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 to the president to adjust the cost share from 75% to not more than 90% when actual federal obligations under the Stafford Act meet or exceed $133 per capita of the state population. 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 month period. FEMA is soliciting comments on whether the per capita threshold used for the 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. Back to you Randy. Thank you.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Thank you very much Terrie. Operator, we will now open it up for comments first from travel executives and may we have those instructions again please?

 

Telephone Operator:            Absolutely. To make a comment or provide input, please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone phone. We’ll pause for one moment. Once again that is star 1 at this time.

 

Randy Brawley:                    Okay, fair enough. Now that we’ve heard some background on FEMA’s individual assistance, public assistance, cost share and the changes in the Stafford Act, we will now move to the part of the agenda where we want to hear from you in the open forum. This is where we ask tribal presidents, governors, chiefs, chairs or other executive members to hear their voices, input and concerns. Operator, we’ll now open it up for comment first from tribal executives. Will you please provide instructions one last time?

 

Telephone Operator:            Absolutely. To make a comment or provide input please press star then 1 on your Touch-tone telephone at this time.

 

Randy Brawley:                    And Randy Brawley here again. Again of course we’re, first in the queue. We’re having tribal members provide comment but certainly other listeners on this call are welcome to provide their comments and suggestions as well. Thank you.

 

Telephone Operator:            We’ll go to Rose Whitehair with the Navajo Nation.

 

Rose Whitehair:                    Hello again. Rose Whitehair Emergency Management Director - Navajo Nation. I just - I’m holding back not in the sense because I don’t have anything to say. It’s because I want to give other tribes the opportunity to say something because I know that Roger Tungovia and I are quite - are pretty much along the same lines here and I know that there’s others that are willing to speak up but I don’t want to be the only one saying everything on behalf of the tribes. And I want to give everybody an opportunity. But one of the things that I’m noticing here too is again - and I mentioned it here with our colleagues here with FEMA that are helping me with this disaster - is the per capita cost share. The thing with the tribes is that we have not had access to monies that are usually available to the states. And I’ve noticed this on a larger level even when I was working at the national level. The per capita should be lowered for the tribes and that’s just one of the things that I’m noticing that it’s harder for tribes to be able to have access to a lot of the funding such as department funding or DOC funding that’s available for the states and tribes don’t have the same economic opportunities as states have had for a much longer time. So again, the fact that we could use possibly a lower threshold or again a formula that can be used - that’s just a suggestion that we can use. I wouldn’t keep it the same. It’s a little bit more difficult for us to come up with those amounts and it’s a little bit more difficult for us to be able to fit the timelines and again it’s a little bit more difficult for us to be able to hit the minimum indicators and damage threshold as the states have. But I just wanted to put that out there. Thank you.

 

Telephone Operator:            Move on to Shanti Warlick with California Indian Water Commission.

 

Male:                                                  ((inaudible)). My question is this. For some reservations and Rancherias in the state of California, much of tribal housing is off reservation ((inaudible)) fiscal responsibility. How will that be covered? That’s the end of my first question please.

 

Sally Ziolkowski:                   We would like your recommendations on how that should be covered.

 

Male:                                      Okay, can I send them in writing?

 

Sally Ziolkowski:                   Absolutely.

 

Male:                                       I don’t have an address to send that to.

 

Sally Ziolkowski:                   Yes, we can provide that to you. Either check with Tessa or Heather and they’ll provide that to you.

 

Male:                                                  Okay, thank you. Also on the second - my second question is the formulas. Again, for smaller tribes or tribes without very much funding, there has to be another smaller - a better formula for that dollar amount. A million dollars is way too high for probably 70% of the time. So I’d like to see that and if you want more comments on that, I’ll send them in that same email when I get the information piece.

 

Sally Ziolkowski:                   That would be great. And, you know, any suggestions, any creative ideas you have on it - we’re considering everything at this point. Thank you.

 

Male:                                                  And then on the 30 day for mitigation plan, that’s - I know for us - not enough time. And if I’m sending that to my tribes then it’s in my area. That goes in to probably four or five of the other tribes. You know, we need - we don’t have enough people or funding to hire people. So many of our people - they work ten or eleven hours and we’re always behind and we can’t meet these deadlines. So I mean for us, six months would be probably useful or beneficial, or fair. That’s my question.

 

Sally Ziolkowski:                   This is Sally Ziolkowski Mitigation Division. Randy we thank you for that comment on behalf of the tribes. It’s similar to something that (Roger Tangovia) expressed earlier that for some tribes they may not have the infrastructure in place if they are working to develop a new plan right after a disaster event or emergency occurs. So we welcome your comments and that’s one of the reasons we’re trying to highlight and flag this as an area where we really need to hear from you and provide those comments as to what you think might be a better alternative especially in the situation where a new plan has to be developed. Thank you again.

 

Telephone Operator:            Moving onto Roger Tungovia with the Hopi Tribe.

 

Roger Tungovia:                   Roger Tungovia - Director of Department of Public Safety Emergency Services. One of the things that I’m looking at or trying to figure out is with this new process that FEMA and the Stafford Act has opened the door for tribes. Is it going to be a way that the tribes can get funding for the emergency management program - what the states and the counties get? Right now they get the funding but the tribes don’t get anything out of it. So how are we supposed to improve our capabilities for emergency response or dealing with disasters? I think this is one thing that the tribes have talked about. I know the tribal emergency management association - which is meeting this week in New Orleans - has talked about. Is that something that we can talk about during this tribal consultation and try to get some of that money to the tribe which will improve their capabilities?

 

Randy Brawley:                    Well the legislation that was passed as part of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act - it only changed FEMA’s authority as related to the declaration process. It did not amend any of the authorities related to any of those other grant programs you mentioned which are under our preparedness authorities. So none of those changes have been made to any of our legislation at this time. But, you know, since we are having, you know, this kind of open ended consultation, you know, I feel like if the tribe, you know, has specific comments related to that and opportunities for building capabilities and funding and what not, you know, I would suggest you may as well submit those comments now so the agency can take those into consideration for the future.

 

Roger Tungovia:                   Okay, thank you.

 

Telephone Operator:             Once again that’s star 1 with any comments. Moving onto Shanti Warlick with California Indian Water Commission.

 

Shanti Warlick:                     Hi. Is there any way that the pre-disaster mitigation funding could be used for something like consulting and developing a longer timeframe for tribes as well as working on this financial threshold stuff?

 

Sally Ziolkowski:                   Shanti this is Sally Ziolkowski again with mitigation programs. It’s an interesting question because you’re asking it as almost an intervention prior to this requirement. And currently there is no new funding for the pre-disaster mitigation program and it’s unlikely that it will be funded in the federal budget going forward. So that would not be an option currently. And yet the application for this would have to be submitted by a jurisdiction that actually has well a planned proposal. So I don’t believe that that’s an option but if you feel that this or something similar could assist, I again would encourage you to provide that as a comment. Thank you.

 

Shanti Warlick:                     Okay. In signing up the email information, we can just submit those comments to the tribal consultation website?

 

Randy Brawley:                    Randy Brawley here. Yes you can and for those who may have missed any of the correspondents, at the very end of this call Tessa Badua-Larsen - our Region 9 travel liaison - will provide the information for all for the various email website addresses and postal. Thank you.

 

Shanti Warlick:                     Thank you.

 

Telephone Operator:            Moving onto Bob DeLeon with Gila River Indian Community.

 

Bob DeLeon:                         Just a question. I know it’ll be a little bit of time before you get all the comments and finalize all the processes if you will. But it would be nice if they put together some sort of training program and let us know some future dates or at least start working on some dates so we can make sure and have those on our calendars and potentially be able to attend or however you decide to put that out. The biggest concern I have is we have a good working relationship with our state and I think that will continue with even with this. But at the end of the day, I know that our tribal officials - having seen this and being notified of this being something that we can do - there’s going to be an expectation that we do as much as we can on our own and, you know, from the sovereign issue and a whole host of other issues, I think we need to start - if you haven’t already and I’m sure you have but I just want to make the comment - put together some sort of training program or let us know well ahead of time so we can plan on attending or participating - however that may occur.

 

Sally Ziolkowski:                    Bob this is Sally for the group. We certainly have heard your comment and again it has merit to be submitted as a recommendation for how this whole process can be enhanced and thank you for just thinking forward.

 

Telephone Operator:             And as a final reminder, that is star 1 at this time with any comments.

 

Randy Brawley:                    I would like to thank everybody today for their comments, questions and input. This has been an excellent consultation session. I would like to conclude this FEMA Tribal Consultation Engagement Conference Call and turn it over to our deputy regional administrator Karen Armes for the final remarks. Here’s Karen Armes.

 

Karen Armes:                        I just want to echo Randy’s comments. Thank you all very much for your participation in the call and all of your valuable comments. The transcript of this call will be posted on www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation in the next few days. The consultation site also includes important background information on declarations and disaster assistance. We thank you again for your time and we look forward to advancing FEMA’s relationship with our tribal leaders, emergency managers and disaster recovery subject matter experts. With that I’ll turn it back over to Tessa. And Tessa I believe you’ll go through again how they can make comments to our process. Thank you.

 

Tessa Badua-Larsen:            Thank you Karen. The deadline to provide your input on the implementation of tribal declarations is fast approaching. It is April 22nd 2013. You may submit your written comments through the following venues. And the online venues are through the federal register. That would be http://federalregister.gov /a/2013/05391. The second online venue is FEMA’s collaboration site at http://fema.ideascale.com And the third one is tribalconsultation@fema.dhs.gov . The other venue is by mailing a hard copy through postal mail. The address is Regulatory Affairs Division, Office of Chief Council Federal Emergency Management Agency, Room 835. 500 C Street Southwest, Washington, DC. You may contact me at 510-627-7185 or Heather Duschell at 510-627-7052. Again, thank you for participating today. Back to you operator.

 

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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