On April 1, 1979, President Carter established the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with the dual functions of civil defense and emergency management. The agency’s authorities were further defined and expanded by a series of legislative actions.
The Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Amendments of 1988 amended the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 and renamed it the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act). The Stafford Act established the current statutory framework for disaster response and recovery through presidential disaster declarations. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President W. Bush signed the Homeland Security Act (2002), uniting FEMA with 21 other organizations under the newly created U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Over the next two decades, Congress passed a series of legislation following significant disaster events that further shaped the agency — the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (2006), the Sandy Reform Act (2012), and the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (2018).
Today, FEMA is called upon to help its partners understand and reduce their disaster risk, to lead the coordination of federal response efforts to stabilize communities after a disaster, and to provide support for individuals and communities to build back and become more resilient than before.
The agency leads the nation by building collaborative partnerships, delivering federal assistance, and providing resources to help individuals and communities review, build, and continuously improve their own capabilities.
FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters. Over 20,000 agency employees form a team of dedicated emergency management leaders. These leaders work collaboratively to share experiences and resources, building the FEMA the nation needs and deserves. They draw upon the strengths and expertise of stakeholders from all levels of government — tribal nations, territories, individuals, communities, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations — to guide how FEMA accomplishes its mission. Whether it is before a flood, amid hurricane season, or after a wildfire damages a community, FEMA is committed to helping people.
FEMA Core Values
FEMA’s core values of compassion, fairness, integrity, and respect are at the heart of what the agency and its employees stand for and represent. These values form the solid foundation of who FEMA is, what the agency believes, and how it approaches serving the nation. These core values apply to FEMA’s interactions with survivors, colleagues, and stakeholders every single day.