Subject: Emergencies and Major Disaster Declarations Request
Telephone Operator: Please stand by. 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 one, then one 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 facilitator, Lucianne Phillips, Region 10 tribal liaison. Miss Phillips, you may begin.
Lucianne Phillips: Thank you very much, Jessica. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you so much for joining us today. Welcome to the region 10 consultation conference call. I want to thank you all for taking time to call in today to share your input on the implementation of the tribal declarations. Please note that I am here to work with you not only for information about the listening sessions, but on all other matters. Here is our facilitator, Richard Flores, the FEMA special advisor for national tribal affairs, who will provide you with some more information.
Richard Flores: Good afternoon. Just real quick, housekeeping notes, we will not be taking a roll call today as the operator has captured a list of all the participants on the call today. As the operator mentioned, this call will be recorded and the record of this meeting will be posted on the FEMA Web site, the fema.gov/tribal-consultation. The purpose of today’s meeting is to hear from tribal leaders and tribal emergency management managers and disaster recovery subject matter experts, and any other interested tribal members or other stakeholders, their thoughts, comments, concerns, about FEMA implementation of the tribal declaration. Comments you provide today will assist in the development of a pilot guidance which will be used until regulations are finalized. FEMA is not soliciting or accepting consensus advice or recommendations on federal law, 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 10 regional administrator Kenneth Murphy. Mr. Murphy brings an extensive background in emergency services and coordination response to his current position. As the Oregon emergency manager director from 2010 to - 2003 to 2010, Mr. Murphy was responsible for coordinating activities with state, local, private sectors and tribal emergency services agencies to develop and implement all hazard disaster preparedness and homeland security programs to service the citizens of Oregon. Mr. Murphy spent nearly three decades as a member of the Oregon Army National Guard, in traditional and active duty roles. He is a past president of the national emergency management association. During his term as president of NEMA, Mr. Murphy held meetings and started the process of expanding mutual aid compacts between the United States and Canada and continued this process to include Mexico. Mr. Murphy will be followed by other speakers on factors FEMA uses to evaluate the needs of public assistance, individual assistance, mitigation plans, and cost share adjustments. After the brief description of each agenda topic, the operator will open the line to provide about 20 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 three minutes to allow those interested to provide their input. You may also provide your written comments through the following venues: The federal registry notice, FEMA online collaboration site, and the FEMA email box, which is tribalconsultation, all one word, at FEMA.DHS.gov. Now we will hear from regional administrator Murphy.
Kenneth Murphy: Thank you very much, Mr. Flores, and good afternoon, everyone. My name is Ken Murphy. On Tuesday January 29th, the 2013 President Obama signed the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013, which included a provision amending the Stafford Act to provide federally recognized Indian tribal governments the option to choose whether to make a request directly to President for a federal emergency or major disaster declaration, or to seek assistance as they did previously under a declaration for a state. The passage of this provision is a clear demonstration of the importance that tribal leadership and their governments are to the nation. It follows on the President’s commitments to Indian country, strengthens the government to government relationship between FEMA and federally recognized tribes, 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 administrator’s three core principles regarding tribal governments. Number one, 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. Two, FEMA has a government to government relationship with federally recognized tribal governments, and three, tribes self-determine the best way for them to address disasters.
The Stafford Act amendment now gives tribes the choice to request declarations on their own, but tribes 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 tribes to change their relationship with states, but the states cannot direct tribes to make a request on their own or require tribes to be included in the state’s request. The tribe makes the declaration, or determination, excuse me. This is a substantial change to the Stafford Act; and changing the Stafford Act to recognize tribal sovereignty was just the beginning. Through consultation we will hear from tribal leaders, and tribal emergency managers, and disaster recovery subject matter experts what items you think FEMA should consider as we develop pilot guidance to implement tribal declarations in advance of the development of regulations. We appreciate your participation and participating on today’s call and informing the development of the pilot guidance. Remember that you may also provide your written comments at the federal register, the idea scale and at the email box email@example.com. With that I will turn back over to Mr. Flores.
Richard Flores: Thank you. We will now hear a quick overview of the Stafford Act change from David Smith, regional counsel.
David Smith: As the Regional Administrator Ken Murphy just mentioned, the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act included a provision amending the Stafford Act to provide a federally recognized tribal government 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 from the state. Specifically, the amendment permits the chief executive of an affected Indian tribal government to submit a request to the President for a declaration that a major disaster or emergency exists, consistent with the requirements in Stafford Act Section 401 which covers major disasters, and 501 which covers 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. The President may also waive or adjust the cost share for public assistance. The amendment clarifies that references to any combination of the state and local in the Stafford Act should be read to include Indian tribal governments, and in the instances of references to the governor or state should also be read to include the chief executive or Indian tribal government. Lastly, FEMA considers is allowed to consider the unique conditions that affect the general welfare of the Indian tribal governments when implementing this new authority.
Richard Flores: Thank you. We will now hear a quick overview of the declarations tribes may request from Jessica Stewart from the office of response and recovery.
Jessica Stewart: Thank you, Richard. The 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 the 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 the situation warrants supplemental assistance under the Stafford Act and make the declaration. Tribal governments can request the following types of declarations: emergency declarations and major disaster declarations. 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. 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 cause, a fire, flood, or explosion. The following are requirements for declaration requests. The request must be submitted by the chief executive of a federally recognized tribal government. The request must be submitted 30 days of the date of the incident - within 30 days of the date of the incident. The chief executive may submit a written request for additional time. Such a request must provide the reasons for the delay. The basis of the request shall be a finding that the disaster is of such a 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 the appropriate action under tribal government law has been taken, and the execution of the tribe’s emergency plan has been directed as applicable, an estimate of the amount and severity of the damages and losses, stating the impact of the disaster on the public and private sectors, information describing the nature and amount of tribal government resources which have been or will be committed to alleviate the results of the disaster. The request must also include preliminary estimates based on joint FEMA tribal preliminary damage assessments 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. Additionally, if the tribe is 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. The tribe must also comply with grant administrative requirements and must have public assistance hazard mitigation grant program and/or other needs assistance administrative plans. For more information on the declarations process and information on these requirements can be found at our tribal consultation Web site, www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation. Richard?
Richard Flores: Thank you very much, Jessica. Operator, we will now open it up for comments, first from tribal executives.
Telephone Operator: If you would like to make a comment or provide input, please press star then one on your touch-tone phone. You will be prompted to record your first and last name. Please check on your phone is unmuted to record. One moment please to allow them time to queue up. There are no questions.
Jessica Stewart: There are no questions? And I encourage you - this is Jessica Stewart again from the office of response and recovery. As you look at the federal register notice, we encourage you to look at these requirements and what - and let us know what may prevent you from complying with any of these requirements, whether it be the hazard mitigation grant or hazard mitigation plan, the 30 days to submit, etcetera, and what unique circumstances that we should consider for your tribe in particular when we’re evaluating these requirements.
Richard Flores: Okay, operator, if there are no questions, I’ll - just going to move on. So just to make sure, I’ll wait another few - I’ll wait a couple seconds here to see if anybody else queues up that has any questions.
Telephone Operator: Again, that is star one on your touch-tone telephone. And there are no questions.
Richard Flores: Okay, thank you, operator. We will now hear an overview of individual assistance criteria from Jessica Stewart, and then we will open up for comments from tribal officials. Jessica?
Jessica Stewart: Thanks, Richard. Individual assistance provides assistance to individuals and households affected by disasters. The individual assistance programs can provide disaster housing which provides grants for rental assistance and/or home repairs. And this is a 100% federally funded program. The individual assistance program also can provide other needs assistance, which are grants for replacement of personal property, transportation, medical, dental, and funeral expenses. The Stafford Act sets the cost share of other needs assistance cost 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. It is 100% federal. Currently when a state requests individual assistance, FEMA uses the following criteria to determine whether federal assistance is needed. Again, these are the current procedures as developed for states. We need your input to modify the requirements to fit tribal government needs. The first thing FEMA looks at is concentration of damages. FEMA evaluates the concentration of damages to individuals as they generally indicate a higher need for federal assistance than widespread and scattered damages throughout a state. We also look at trauma. We consider the degree of trauma to the communities. Some conditions that may 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 look at special populations and 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 look at voluntary agency assistance. FEMA considers the extent to which voluntary agencies and state or local programs meet the needs of the disaster survivors. And finally we look at insurance, as we consider the amount of insurance coverage because by law federal disaster assistance cannot duplicate insurance coverage. We’d like to hear whether any of these individual assistance factors - concentration of damages, trauma, special populations, voluntary agency assistance, and insurance, are appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating a tribal government request for individual assistance. We also welcome comments on whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating tribal government requests for individual assistance. I’ll turn it back to Richard.
Richard Flores: Thank you, Jessica. Operator, we’ll now open it up for comments first from tribal executives.
Telephone Operator: If you would like to make a comment or provide input please press star then one on your touch-tone phone. You will be prompted to record your first and last name. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you record. One moment please to allow them time to queue up. And it appears there are no questions at this time.
Richard Flores: Okay, thank you, operator. We’ll now hear an overview from public assistance, and Jessica?
Jessica Stewart: Thank you, Richard. Public assistance is assistance to state, tribal, and local governments and certain private non-profit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster damaged facilities, such as schools, roads, or other government owned infrastructure. 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 state requests public assistance, FEMA uses the following criteria to make a recommendation to the President whether assistance is warranted. We need your input to modify the requirements to fit tribal government needs. One of the factors that we look at is insurance coverage. We consider 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. FEMA also looks at hazard mitigation and considers the extent to which state and local government mitigation measures contributed to the reduction of disaster damages for the disaster under consideration. FEMA looks at recent multiple disasters. We evaluate 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 government - governor, excuse me, and the extent to which the state has spent its own funds on those disasters. FEMA looks at programs of other federal assistance. We consider the programs of other federal agencies because at times their programs of assistance might more appropriately meet the needs created by the disaster. FEMA also evaluates the impact of the disaster locally, or localized impacts, the disaster impacts 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 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. And finally, FEMA looks at the estimated cost of the assistance, and many of you may know this as the public assistance per capita indicator and the $1 million minimum. FEMA evaluates the estimated cost of public assistance against the statewide population, as 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 disaster is of such severity and magnitude that might warrant federal assistance. This number is adjusted annually based on the consumer price index. FEMA has also established a minimum of $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. FEMA 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 based on a damage per capita, like the one used for states, $1.37. We would like to hear your thoughts on whether there should be expected - the tribes should be expected to cover a level of damage, such as the $1 million minimum, and if it should be similar for tribal governments as that applied to states. We also welcome comments on whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating the level of impact and the tribal governments’ capability to respond to and recover from an event for public assistance.
Richard Flores: All right, thank you very much, Jessica. Operator, we’ll now open it up for comments, first from tribal executives.
Telephone Operator: If you would like to make a comment or provide input, please press star then one on your touch-tone phone. You will be prompted to record your first and last name. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you record. One moment please to allow them to queue up. And we do have a question from Randy Brawley.
Richard Flores: Go ahead. Yes, go ahead, sir.
Telephone Operator: Mr. Brawley, your line is open. If you’re on a speakerphone please depress the mute button or pick up the receiver.
Randy Brawley: Whoops, sorry, I was on mute. I didn’t follow directions.
Richard Flores: It’s all right.
Randy Brawley: Hello, Randy Brawley, here, FEMA region 9. More of a comment, I guess, for record. As I’ve worked with tribes, it seems to me that a lot of tribes have difficulty even getting insurance, so in terms of determining what types of insurance or how much insurance they have or should have, we - I think we really do in FEMA need to study across the nation the availability of insurance to tribes, which I think will affect A, the determination of what type of coverage they should have, and also could lead to their ability to pay a cost share. I’d also like to see I guess some type of study as we do the pilot program regarding maybe some type of formula base to the floor. You know, we say, you know, any basically territory or state should be able to have a $1 million floor, and as you know, tribes vary from you know, 10s, 100s, to 10s of 1000s. You know, that variation is so high, and I don’t know what the answer is right now, but perhaps we can study and find maybe a formula based, you know, floor, as opposed to a straight line. So again, those are just my comments for record and hopefully to stimulate some thought.
Richard Flores: Okay, thank you. Operator, do we have any more comments from tribal executives?
Telephone Operator: There are no further comments.
Richard Flores: Okay, thank you very much, operator. So we’re going to move onto mitigation plan requirements. I’m going to turn it over to Mark Care).
Mark Carey: Thank you, Richard. This is Mark Carey. I am the mitigation division director for the FEMA regional office here. Mitigation is really best described as the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impacts of the disasters. Mitigation is taking action now, certainly before the next disaster, in an effort to reduce human and financial consequences later. The hazard mitigation planning is the process by which Indian tribal governments use to identify their risk and vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters and then develop long term strategies to protect people and property from future hazard events. Mitigation plans also help tribes meet grant eligibility requirements by FEMA’s various grant programs. The Stafford Act requires Indian tribal governments to have a FEMA-approved mitigation plan as a condition of our hazard mitigation assistance. Assistance programs impacted also include the public assistance program categories C through G, and specifically the hazard mitigation grant program. The state or tribal mitigation plan, that mitigation plan, outlines the process for identifying the natural hazards, risks, and vulnerabilities of the area as well as specific actions to reduce losses from future disasters. Tribes, when they’re approved tribal mitigation plan are eligible to receive up to 15% of eligible funds under the hazard mitigation grant program. Indian tribal governments must meet the requirements in the code of federal regulations for a tribal mitigation plan. Those plans are valid for five years. When FEMA approves a tribal mitigation plan, the tribe will then be eligible as a direct grantee status, or if the tribe coordinates with the state for plan review, then the tribes have the option to request a sub-grantee status. This process really promotes flexibilities to tribes to request either grantee or sub-grantee status for each program under the Presidential disaster declaration. For tribes that don’t have a FEMA-approved tribal mitigation plan, FEMA does allow 30 days from the date of the declaration for FEMA, or for tribes to submit to FEMA either an approved or an approvable tribal mitigation plan. For the HMGP projects, the FEMA original administrators can also grant an exception to the tribal mitigation plan requirement in extraordinary circumstances such as in small impoverished communities where justification is provided and the tribe is interested in a sub-grantee status for that particular disaster. In these cases, a plan must be completed within 12 months of the project grant award. FEMA has a couple of Web sites that we can provide to you if notified that talk about FEMA mitigation planning guidance, as well as specific to tribal mitigation planning guidance. The question is understanding that the mitigation planning process is most effective before a disaster, FEMA welcomes your feedback on whether 30 days is really an appropriate amount of time for an Indian tribal government to submit an approved or approvable tribal mitigation plan during the pilot program. FEMA also welcomes comments on whether there are circumstances that may prevent Indian tribal government from submitting a tribal mitigation plan or request for an extension within this timeframe. Thanks, Richard, I’ll hand it back to you.
Richard Flores: Okay, thank you, Mark, appreciate that. Before I turn it over to the operator, we’re moving along pretty good, and I know sometimes people want to wait until the end to ask questions, but I wanted to give an opportunity to, operator, if you will again open it up for comments to any tribal executive?
Telephone Operator: If you would like to ask a question please press star then one on your touch-tone phone. You’ll be prompted to record your first and last name. Please check your phone is unmuted before you record. And it appears there are no questions at this time.
Richard Flores: All right, thank you, operator. We are now going to move to cost share adjustments, and I’m going to turn it over to Dorothy Townsend.
Dorothy Townsend: The Stafford Act directs FEMA to pay not less than 75% of the eligible costs for essential assistance repair, restoration, and replacement, and debris removal. FEMA’s regulations outline the criteria FEMA uses to recommend to the President an adjustment to the cost share. 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 for 2013 per capita of state population. When recommending a cost share adjustment to the President, FEMA also considers the impact of major disaster declarations in the state during the previous 12 months. FEMA would like your opinion on whether the per capita threshold used for states would be appropriate for evaluating whether to recommend a cost share adjustment for tribal declarations during the pilot program. FEMA also welcomes comments on what other factors may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating potential cost share adjustments for tribal declarations.
Richard Flores: All right, thank you very much, Dorothy. Operator, I’ll open it up for any comments.
Telephone Operator: If you would like to ask a question, please press star and then one on your touch-tone phone. You will be prompted to record your first and last name. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you record. And it appears there are no questions at this time.
Richard Flores: Thank you, operator. We’ll now open the call for any other comments that you would like to provide on any other topics of interest to you regarding the implementation of tribal declarations. I encourage you to ask questions, bring up any concerns that you might have. On the line you have regional tribal - regional administrator, you have office of chief counsel, you have Jessica from office of response and recovery. You have - you know, I’m here. We want to hear from the tribes. We want to hear from tribal leaders, emergency managers, so this is a great opportunity. We’re running ahead of schedule, so this is a great time for you to comment. So I ask that you - if you have any questions, any concerns, please let us know. So I’ll turn this over to the operator to open it up for any questions.
Telephone Operator: If you would like to ask a question, please press star then one on your touch-tone phone. You will be prompted to record your first and last name. Please check that your phone is unmuted before you record. Again, that is star one on your touch-tone telephone at this time. Again, that is star one on your touch-tone telephone to ask a question. And it appears there are no questions.
Richard Flores: All right, thank you, operator, so before I close, again I just want to - I can see you on the computer, who’s signed in, so I know a lot of you personally as a special advisor for national tribal affairs here at headquarters, again, and Lucianne’s on the call for the regional tribal liaisons. We need to hear from you, so again, I’m just going to turn it over to the operator one more time, have any questions, any concerns regarding the Stafford Act, something tribes have been asking for, for a long, long time. It passed, and now we’re - we want to hear from you, so with that, I’m going to turn it over to the operator and - with the instructions again, and comments, even if it’s not a question, just a comment, that’s fine. We need to hear from you. So operator?
Telephone Operator: Once again, if you have a comment or question at this time, please press star then one on your touch-tone telephone. If you’re using a speakerphone, please make sure your mute function is turned off to allow your signal to reach our equipment. Again that is star one on your touch-tone telephone, and we will pause for just a moment. Again, that is star one on your touch-tone telephone. And it appears there are no questions.
Richard Flores: Okay, thank you, operator. So I want to thank everyone for their participation in the region 10 consultation call. The transcripts of this call will be posted at www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation in the next few days. The consultation site also includes important background information on the declaration disaster assistance. The deadline to provide your input on the implementation of tribal declaration is April 22nd, so do not forget to submit your written comments through the following venues. You may do it through the federal registry notice, the FEMA online collaboration site, and the FEMA email box which is firstname.lastname@example.org and again, you - feel free to reach out to your regional tribal liaison if you have any questions. So with that I’m going to turn it over to the regional administrator for closing.
Kenneth Murphy: Thank you, Richard. This is Ken Murphy, the regional administrator. I want to again thank you for your time today, and we look forward to continue to grow FEMA’s relationship with tribal leaders, emergency managers, and disaster recovery subject matter experts. Again, thank you. Operator, this does conclude today’s conference call. Thank you for your participation and you may disconnect your lines at this time.
Telephone Operator: Thank you for your participation.