Reports & Guide
How to Conduct a PDA
Digital Damage Surveys
Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs) are conducted to enable FEMA — as well as state, local, tribal, and territorial partners — to determine the magnitude of damage and impact of disasters.
View all Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) reports for major disaster declaration requests.
View the PDA Guide — a standard framework for conducting PDAs following a disaster — and related resources.
How to Conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment
1. Local Damage Assessment
The process starts at the local level where damage details are initially collected, shared, and validated by state, tribal and territorial authorities.
Not every incident will result in the need for a PDA or federal assistance. Extensions may be granted upon request.
3. Joint PDA
If the incident is of a severity and magnitude that resources needed to recover are expected to exceed local and state or tribal government capability, the director of the state or tribal emergency management agency may request a Joint PDA from the appropriate FEMA Regional Administrator to validate damage and evaluate impact. This request should include any counties or tribal lands to be assessed and will begin discussion on the general timeline for the Joint PDA.
4. FEMA Regional Office
Once a request for a Joint PDA is made, a summary of the information verified by the state or tribal emergency management should be provided to the FEMA Regional Recovery Division. FEMA programmatic representatives should coordinate with state or tribal emergency management to discuss the information submitted, determine team requirements, establish a PDA briefing time and location, and develop an overall PDA coordination plan.
5. FEMA Headquarters
FEMA Headquarters reviews the request to ensure it's consistent with declaration policy and process. The FEMA Administrator will then review the request, informs and makes recommendations provided by the Regional Administrator.
The President of the United States makes the disaster declaration decision.
Digital Damage Surveys
FEMA’s damage assessment survey templates for both Individual and Public Assistance are available for state, local, tribal and territorial partners to use during the Initial Damage Assessment (IDA) process.
The standardized input fields allow jurisdictions to collect the same information that FEMA gathers during the Joint PDA operation. This information is used to determine whether the jurisdiction is eligible for a disaster declaration. The data captured using these templates is immediately available in the jurisdiction’s ArcGIS Platform and can assist in FEMA’s review of the damages in the event a Joint PDA is requested.
Sharing Initial Damage Assessment Data with FEMA
FEMA can accept initial damage assessment (IDA) geospatial datasets from state, tribal, and territorial (STT) governments for upload into FEMA’s Field Assessment and Collection Tools (FACT) System. The FEMA Regional Office can review this data for situational awareness when coordinating the logistics for a Joint PDA field operation or for remote validation of damages during a virtual Joint PDA operation.
View Fact Sheet for More Information
ArcGIS Solution that leverages the above survey templates is available to support States, Tribal Nations, Territories, and local organizations in the Initial Damage Assessment (IDA) process.
The Damage Assessment Solution enables organizations to electronically collect damage reports, assign initial damage assessments, monitor the impact of a disaster on the community, brief stakeholders, and share information with the public using ArcGIS. Information that is collected can be shared with FEMA Regional coordinators in a collaboration group for use during the Joint PDA process.
Organizations utilizing Esri geospatial software can learn more about how to deploy the ArcGIS Solution for Damage Assessment and how it works by visiting the Esri Damage Assessment solution page. This ArcGIS Solution is fully supported by Esri technical support should you need technical assistance configuring the solution.
Download the Survey App
Survey123 for PDAs enables FEMA and SLTTs to electronically collect, submit and validate damage assessment information immediately following a disaster. It provides the capability for all levels of emergency management to collect the same information.
The survey utilizes GIS technology and allows users to easily collect detailed damage information including:
- Category of damage
- Ownership and insurance information
- Cost estimates
- Other local community impact information
Preliminary Damage Assessment Training
- IS-556: Damage Assessment for Public Works
- IS-559: Local Damage Assessment
- IS-772: Individual Assistance (IA) PDA Orientation
Public Assistance (PA) Resources
Individual Assistance (IA) Resources
FEMA Geospatial Resource Center
IHP Cost Calculator