Region 2 Tribal Consultation Call - Monday, April 1, 2013, 1:00pm Eastern

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Subject: Emergencies and Major Disaster Declarations

Telephone Operator:            At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode until the comment portion of this conference. 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 also being recorded. If you have any objection you may disconnect. At this time I’d like to turn the conference over to your FEMA Region 2 tribal liaison Ashley Smith. Please go ahead ma’am.

Ashley Smith:             Thank you very much. Good afternoon everyone. I’d like to welcome you to the Region 2 consultation conference call. I’d like to thank you all for taking the time to call in today and to share your input on the implementations of tribal declaration. The purpose of today’s call is to hear from tribal leaders, tribal emergency managers, disaster recovery subject matter experts and other interested tribal members or partners to capture their thoughts, comments and concerns about FEMA’s implementation of tribal major disaster and emergency declaration. This is just the beginning of the consultation process from the open comment period which runs through April 22, 2013. Comments you provide today will be the foundation for the development of the pilot guidance which will be used to create the final regulation. We will not be taking role call today as the operator has captured a list of the participants on the call. As the operator mentioned this call will be recorded and the record of this meeting will be posted at www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation. And I will send out all of this information to follow so you know where to find everything. FEMA is not soliciting or accepting consensus advice or recommendations on federal laws, regulations or policies during this meeting but rather the purpose is to gather individual input from a diverse group of partners. Today you will hear from Region 2 Acting Regional Administrator MaryAnn Tierney. MaryAnn is the Regional Administrator for Region 3 but is a native New Yorker. She has been an emergency manager at many levels of government including service at the New York City Office of Emergency Management.

MaryAnn will be followed by subject matter experts on the Stafford Act, the declaration process, disaster assistance, individual assistance, public assistance, other 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 to provide comments. Then the operator will close the line and so we can move on to the next topic. And I will send out the information on where again you are able to provide your written comments to instead of listing them all right now. I sent this email both via postal mail and email in the invitation letter. You can contact me for Web site address, email address or any of the postal information. Now we will hear from MaryAnn Tierney, Senior Region 2 Acting Regional Administrator.

MaryAnn Tierney:                Thank you very much Ashley. Good afternoon everyone. As Ashley mentioned...

Telephone Operator:            And everyone just please stand by as we reconnect our speaker’s mainline there. And again everyone please stay connected on the phone line as we reestablish our speaker’s phone line at this time.

Ashley Smith:             I tried to turned it over to MaryAnn and it disconnected. So I’m going to again turn it over to MaryAnn Tierney.

MaryAnn Tierney:                Thank you. Thanks Ashley. Good afternoon everyone. My name is MaryAnn Tierney. On Tuesday, January 29, 2013 President Obama signed a Sandy Recovery Improvement Act which included a provision amending the Stafford Act to provide federally recognized tribal governments the option to choose whether or not to request directly to the President for a federal emergency or major disaster declaration or seek assistance as they did previously under a declaration by the state. The enactment of this provision is a clear demonstration of the importance that the tribal leadership and their governments are to our nation. It follows on the President’s commitment to Indian country strengthening the government to government relationship between FEMA and federally recognized travel government 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 government. The first one, federally recognized tribal governments are sovereign governments. The Stafford Act now clearly reflects federally recognized tribal government’s status as sovereign nations giving them the same status as states when requesting disaster assistance. The second principle being that FEMA has a government to government relationship with federally recognized tribal governments. And finally tribal governments will 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 request on their own. The tribe may continue to seek assistance through a state’s request if they choose. The legislation does not require a tribal government 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 requests. The tribe makes that determination. This is a substantial change in 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, tribal emergency managers and disaster recovery subject matter experts regarding the items FEMA should consider as we develop pilot guidance to implement tribal declarations. We appreciate your participating on today’s call and informing the development of pilot guidance. Remember that 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 Ashley.

Ashley Smith: Thank you MaryAnn. Our speakers today will describe specific aspects of the programs as applied to states and territories. We need your input to modify their requirements to fit tribal government needs. We will now hear quick overview of the Stafford Act change from Katie Belfi, our Regional Counsel.

Katie Belfi:                Thank you Ashley. As the regional administrator mentioned the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act included a provision amending the Stafford Act to for provide federally recognized tribal governments the option to choose whether 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 prevents the chief executive permits the chief executive of the 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 501 for emergencies. The amendment 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 has the authority to waive or adjust the cost share 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/state should also be read to include chief executive/tribal government as appropriate. FEMA is required to consider the unique conditions that affect the general welfare of tribal governments when implementing this new authority.

Ashley Smith:             Thank you Katie. We’ll now hear quick overview of declarations tribes may request and assistance that may be made available. We’ll hear from Larry O’Reilly, our Recovery Division Director about the declaration and disaster assistance process.

Larry O’Reilly:                      Thanks Ashley. 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 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 then makes the declaration. Tribal governments can request the following types of declarations and there’s two. The first is an emergency declaration which is intended to supplement state and local tribal 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. And that is intended to 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 of fire, flood or explosion. The following are requirements for declaration requests. They must be submitted by the chief executive of a federally recognized tribal government. They must be submitted within 30 days of the date of the incident. Within the 30 days however of the date of the incident the chief executive may submit a written request for additional time. Such requests must provide 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 capability 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. It 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 include information describing the nature and amount of tribal government resources which have been or will be committed to alleviate the results of the disaster. Preliminary estimates based on joint FEMA tribal preliminary damage assessments of the types and amounts of supplementary federal assistance needed under the Stafford Act is another requirement. And that would include a certification that the tribe meet all applicable caution requirements if requesting hazard mitigation grant program for permanent work under the public assistance program the tribe must have a FEMA approved or a provable mitigation plan within 30 days of the date of the declaration, must comply with grant administrative requirements and must also have public assistance, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and/or other needs assistance administrative plans.

For more information on all of those requirements can be found at www.fema.gov/tribal-consultation. And as Ashley said those web sites will be made available in writing. With that alternate back to Ashley for comments.

Ashley Smith:             Thank you very much Larry. Operator we’d now like to open it up for comments first from tribal executives. And when you provide your input if you could please identify your name, title and affiliation before you ask. Operator can we have those instructions?

 

Telephone Operator:            Certainly. Again if you would like to provide input at this time please press Star 1 on your touch-tone phone. And again that is Star 1 for any questions or input at this time. And we don’t have any questions or input at this time.

 

Ashley Smith:             Okay thank you operator. We’ll now hear an overview of individual assistance criteria from Eileen Feikert, the Individual Assistance Branch Chief. And then we’ll open it up for comment again from tribal government. Here’s Eileen.

 

Eileen Feikert:                       Thank you Ashley. The types of FEMA disaster assistance that may be made available by a major disaster declarations, individual assistance- 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. Other needs 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. The Stafford Act does not give the President the authority to waive the other needs assistance cost share. All other individual assistance 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 by states. We need your input to modify the requirements to fit tribal government needs. 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. Trauma, FEMA considers the degree of trauma to the communities. Some of the conditions that might cause trauma are large number of injuries or deaths, large-scale destruction of (formal) community functions and services and emergency needs such as extended or widespread loss of power water. 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. Voluntary agency assistance, FEMA considers the extent to which voluntary and state or local programs meet the needs of the disaster survivors. Insurance, FEMA considers the amount of insurance coverage because by law federal disaster assistance cannot duplicate insurance coverage. 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 a tribal government request for individual assistance. FEMA also welcomes comments and whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating tribal government request for individual assistance. I will turn it back to Ashley for comments.

 

Ashley Smith:             Thank you Eileen. Operator we’d like to open it up again for comments again first from tribal executives. And when you provide the input please identify name, title and affiliation. Can we have those instructions please?

 

Telephone Operator:            And again that is Star 1 for any questions or input at this time. And no one has signaled at this time.

 

Ashley Smith:             Okay thank you. We’ll now hear an overview of public assistance criteria from Maryellen Ryan, our regional recovery - from our regional recovery divisions. Then we’ll open it up for comments for tribal governments. Here’s Maryellen.

 

Maryellen Ryan:                    Thank you Ashley. Public assistance is assistance for state, tribe and local government and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster damaged facilities. The Stafford Act Sets the cost share for public assistance at not less than 75%. It also 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 as to 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.

 

For state requests FEMA considers the amount of insurance coverage that is enforced or should have been a force as required by law and regulation at the time of the disaster. Hazard mitigation, FEMA also considers the extent to which state and local government mitigation measures contributed to the reduction of disaster damages for the disaster under consideration. 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 to which the state has spent its own funds on those disasters. Programs of other federal assistance, FEMA also considers the programs other federal agencies because at times their programs of assistance might more appropriately meet the needs created by the disaster. Localized impacts, FEMA evaluates impacts of the disaster at the county and local government level as well as the impacts of 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. Estimated cost of assistance, many of you may know this is a 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 incurring in fiscal year 2013 we use a figure of $1.37 per capita as an indicator that the disaster is of such size that it 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 federal - 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 request for public assistance. We would also like to hear your thoughts on whether tribal government’s requests should be evaluated based on the damage per capita. We would 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 the 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 impacts on tribal government’s capabilities to respond to and recover from an event for public assistance. I will turn it back to Ashley Smith now for comments.

Ashley Smith:             Thank you very much Maryellen. We’d like to open it up for comments again. To provide any input if you can identify your name, title and affiliation. Operator can we open the line up?

Telephone Operator:            And again it is Star 1 at this time. And we don’t have anything at this time.

Ashley Smith:             Okay thank you. We’ll now hear brief overview of the hazard mitigation assistance from Bill McDonnell, our regional mitigation division and open it up for comments again. Here’s Bill.

Bill McDonnell:                      Thank you Ashley. Hazard mitigation assistance is assistance to state, tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risks to life and property or natural hazards. The Stafford Act allows the President to contribute up to 75% of the cost of hazard mitigation. Total mitigation funding for a disaster is based on a percentage -- up to 15% of the total obligations for the disaster. Let me emphasize. 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 the tribal governments 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 tribal governments from submitting a tribal mitigation plan or to request for an extension within its time. With that I’ll turn it back to Ashley for comments.

Ashley Smith:             Thank you very much Bill. Okay we’ll now open it up for comments again. Anything on what Bill just discussed with hazard mitigation if you have any comments again please identify your name, title and affiliation. Operator do we have those instructions?

Telephone Operator:            And again it is Star 1. And no one has signaled at this time.

Ashley Smith:             Thank you. Okay now that we’ve heard some background on FEMA’s declaration process, disaster assistance and a change to the Stafford Act we’ll now hear about the cost share criteria again from Larry O’Reilly, the Recovery Division Director and then we will open it up for comments. Here’s Larry.

Larry O’Reilly:                      As we 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 at 75% federal, 25% nonfederal. The Stafford Act sets the federal cost share for public assistance at not less than 75%. The Stafford Act allows the President to contribute up to 75% of the cost of hazard mitigation. The President may only adjust the nonfederal cost share for public assistance. The discretion to adjust or waive the nonfederal cost share rests solely with the President. FEMA’s 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 the President adjust the federal 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. And in making this recommendation FEMA may also consider the impact of major disaster declarations in the state during the previous 12 months. FEMA is soliciting comments on whether the per capita threshold used for 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 declaration.

Ashley Smith:             Thank you very much Larry. We’ll now open it up for comments again. If you would like to provide any comments at this time the operator will open up the line.

Telephone Operator:            And once again that is Star 1 for any comments at this time. And there are no comments at this time.

Ashley Smith:             Okay thank you. Now that we’ve heard some background on FEMA’s individual assistance, public assistance, cost share and a change to the Stafford Act would like to move to a part of the agenda where we want to hear from you on an open forum. This is where we ask the tribal presidents, governors, chiefs, chairs or other executive members to hear their voices, input and concerns. So we’ll now open it up to comments first from tribal executives.

Telephone Operator:            And again Star 1 at this time.

Ashley Smith:             We’d like to open it up to other tribal partners or anyone else who might be participating in this call that have any input.

Telephone Operator:            And we’ll go first to Edward Course

Edward Course:                     Yes the only question I have is the per capita. Because we are in New York State and New York State’s threshold is like $25 million for damage in order to get a disaster declaration from the President and you’re factoring in your downstate also. We’re in Western New York and our economy and property values and everything like that is a lot less then downstate. That’s inequitable we feel for us. You know, there’s got to be some other way of looking at this.

Man:             It’s probably - you know, there are a lot of different tribal (issues).

Edward Course:    Yes.

MaryAnn Tierney:                Okay. Thank you for your comment. We will certainly - that’s a part of the consultation process is getting feedback on tribal opinion regarding the cost share and whether they think the cost share is equitable and achievable in certain circumstances. Certainly in New York State with the threshold being so high that’s certainly something we can take back and look at.

Edward Course:                     Thank you.

Telephone Operator:            And we don’t have any other comments or questions at this time.

Ashley Smith:             Okay. Thank you for your input. I would like to conclude this tribal FEMA consultation conference call and turn it over to our regional administrator MaryAnn Tierney for the final remarks. Here’s MaryAnn.

MaryAnn Tierney:                Thank you for participating in the Region 2 tribal consultation call. The transcript 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 declarations and disaster assistance. We thank you for your time and we look forward to advancing FEMA’s relationship with tribal leaders, emergency managers and disaster recovery subject matter experts. With that I will turn it back over to Ashley.

Ashley Smith:             Thank you MaryAnn. I just like to remind everyone that the deadline to provide your input on the implementation of the tribal declarations is April 22. You can submit your comments through many different venues that I will again send out. And if you do not have my email address it’s Ashley.e.smith@dhs.gov. And again this information has been sent to you. We encourage you to participate in this comment process and we’d like to thank everyone for their participation.

Telephone Operator:            And again that will conclude today’s conference. Thank you all for joining us. You may now disconnect.

END

Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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