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Preliminary Damage Assessments

Preliminary Damage Assessments are conducted to enable FEMA, as well as state, local, tribal, and territorial partners to determine the magnitude of damage and impact of disasters. The process starts at the local level where damage details are initially collected, shared and validated by State, Tribal, and Territorial authorities. The state, tribe or territory generally has 30 days from the start of the incident to determine whether or not federal assistance in the form of FEMA Individual Assistance, Public Assistance or other federal programs may be necessary. Not every incident will result in the need for a PDA or federal assistance. Extensions may be granted upon request.

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.

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.

EVENT Local Damage Assessment Access damage, Compile Information State or Tribal Verification Verify damage information is accurate and complete Joint PDA Validate damage information Evaluate impact will state or tribe request a declaration Yes Government or Tribal Executive Makes a request to the President through the appropriate FEMA Region FEMA Regional Office Reviews request & Validates information developed  by the Join PDA Prepare Regional Administrator's validation & recommendation FEMA Headquarters Reviews request to ensure it's consistent with declaration policy & process FEMA Administrator reviews request, informs, and makes recommendations provided by the Regional Administrator President Disaster declaration decision


PDA Templates for States, Locals, Tribes, and Territories

Survey123FEMA’s Survey123 for PDA’s templates are designed for use specifically during preliminary damage assessments, which usually take place within the first 30 days after a disaster.  During this time, local partners are often busy responding, assessing damages, and coordinating assistance to their communities.  This template was designed to streamline the information collection process so that emergency managers at all levels can be in the field gathering the right information and sharing it with the right people to make decisions faster.  Data captured using FEMA's PDA's Survey123 Templates is immediately available in the ArcGIS Platform.  The standardized input fields mean state, local, tribal and territorial partners will be collecting the same information needed by FEMA to determine if a jurisdiction is eligible for a disaster declaration.  This new template will empower state, local, tribal and territorial partners to independently conduct thorough, detailed and accurate PDA’s after an incident and to seamlessly share that data leading to better communications in times of disaster via mobile device or desktop computer. 

The survey provides detailed information prompts including specific details regarding both Individual Assistance and Public Assistance programs, insurance, location details, costs and more.  When used in Survey123 it enables users to attach photographs, GPS coordinates, and collect the information electronically rather than scanning paper documents. The data collected can be used to provide data points for online mapping purposes, GIS layers, and real time decision making.  External partners may need to work with Esri or their local IT representatives to determine their unique needs for data retrieval and storage. 

PDA Templates

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Last Updated: 
12/06/2019 - 12:06