- Response and Recovery Actions
Federal agencies are prepared to take a variety of actions to assist State
and local governments in responding to and recovering from a major disaster.
These actions ó ranging from initial notification of a disaster to preparation
of a final disaster after-action report ó are summarized below. They
are not necessarily in sequential order; some may be undertaken concurrently.
An overview of an entire disaster operation, indicating key operational components
and the typical sequence of actions, appears in Appendix
Updated: June 3, 1999
- Initial Actions
- Upon indication of an imminent or actual disaster, the State notifies
the FEMA Regional Office through the MERS Operations Center 800 number.
The MOC then immediately notifies the NECC and FEMA regional staff in
accordance with regional procedures. If directed by the Regional
Director, the MOC also notifies regional agency representatives.
- The NECC notifies key FEMA headquarters staff and other Federal agencies
through their respective agency EOCs and/or designated individual(s).
An Advisory is issued to provide an early warning that a possible event
being monitored may result in activation. The Advisory is for
information only and requires no formal action. An Alert is issued
when an imminent or actual event is likely to result in activation.
It puts Federal responders on notice that they need to be ready for
immediate deployment. An Activation directs immediate deployment
to the location specified in the notice. A Cancellation indicates
that no further action is required or that an activation notification
is being terminated.
- CDRG members may be notified to convene at FEMA Headquarters for
an initial meeting, depending on the nature of the disaster. CDRG
members or alternates remain on call to meet at any time during the
- The FEMA Regional Director deploys a FEMA State Liaison to the State
EOC to provide advice on the declaration process and available Federal
assistance, and also partially or fully activates the ROC staff, including
regional agency representatives.
- With the support of ESFs, the ROC staff initially deploys members
of the ERT-A, including damage assessment personnel, to State operating
facilities and disaster sites to assess the impact of the situation,
collect damage information, and determine requirements. If regional
resources appear to be overwhelmed or in an event having potentially
significant consequences, FEMA Headquarters may deploy an ERT-N to coordinate
the initial response.
- Meanwhile, if directed by FEMA Headquarters, the NECC informs ESF
primary agencies of an EST activation and provides a time for each activated
ESF to report to FEMA Headquarters, as part of the EST. Primary
agencies are responsible for activation of their support agencies if
required. Agencies may activate their headquarters EOCs to provide
coordination and direction to their regional response elements in the
- The Regional Director processes the Governorís request for a Presidential
declaration, which indicates the extent of damage and the types of Federal
assistance required. FEMA Headquarters then forwards the Governorís
request to the White House, along with a recommended course of action.
Concurrent with a Presidential declaration of a major disaster or emergency
and official appointment of an FCO, FEMA designates the types of assistance
to be made available and the counties eligible to receive assistance.
The Regional Director appoints a Disaster Recovery Manager.
- The ROC and EST Logistics Section support the establishment
of a DFO and mobilization center(s). The ROC also coordinates
Federal support of State requirements until the FCO assumes those responsibilities.
A Joint Information Center (JIC) may be established, as required, to
provide a central point for coordinating emergency public information
- The ERT-A/ERT-N coordinates damage assessment and selection of locations
for field facilities with the State. It also coordinates mission
assignments for direct Federal assistance and procurement of goods and
services with the Comptroller and ROC staff. The ERT-A/ERT-N begins
the transition to a partial or full ERT.
- ESFs act quickly to determine the impact of a disaster on their own
capabilities and to identify, mobilize, and deploy resources to support
response activities in the affected State.
- The EST begins interagency operations by supporting initial activation,
mission assignment requirements, and ROC staff activities as needed.
- Continuing Actions
- Response Operations
- The ERT-A/ERT-N completes the transition to a full ERT by the addition
of staff, including ESF representatives.
- Headed by the FCO and located at the DFO, the ERT assumes operational
responsibility from the ROC staff for coordinating Federal disaster
assistance in support of State-identified needs and priorities submitted
by the SCO.
- The ESF representatives on the ERT coordinate Federal assistance
under their respective ESF missions. To the extent possible, they
maintain contact with their State counterparts.
- At FEMA Headquarters, the EST provides financial, administrative,
logistical, and operational support to the ERT and ROC as required,
including coordinating the deployment of emergency teams and supplies.
The CDRG convenes as needed to address policy issues such as allocation
of scarce Federal resources.
- Early in the response, the Deputy FCO for Mitigation plays a critical
role in identifying mitigation opportunities and educating disaster
workers on the merits of incorporating mitigation measures into response
and recovery actions.
- Congressional affairs staff from FEMA and supporting agencies conduct
briefings for Members of Congress and staff as appropriate.
- Working with other Federal and State environmental agencies, the
Environmental Officer identifies environmental and historic resources
that might require consideration under the law as response and recovery
efforts are implemented.
- Once immediate response missions and lifesaving activities conclude,
emergency teams are demobilized and the emphasis shifts from response
to recovery operations. The ERT Information and Planning Section
develops a demobilization plan for the ERT during response operations.
- Recovery Operations
- The ERT Operations Section is the central coordination point among
State and Federal agencies and voluntary organizations for delivering
recovery assistance programs. The Human Services and Infrastructure
Support Branches of the Operations Section assess State and local recovery
needs at the outset of the disaster and relevant time frames for program
delivery. The branches ensure that Federal agencies that might
have appropriate recovery assistance programs are notified of the disaster
and share relevant applicant and damage information with all involved
- In conjunction with the SCO, the FCO determines the need for DRCs
in the disaster area. State and Federal agencies staff the DRCs
with knowledgeable officials who provide recovery program information,
advice, counseling, and technical assistance related to mitigation.
- The Human Services Branch of the ERT coordinates assistance programs
to help individuals, families, and businesses meet basic needs and return
to self-sufficiency. The branch also coordinates with voluntary
organizations and may become involved in donations management.
- The Infrastructure Support Branch of the ERT coordinates assistance
programs to aid State and local governments and eligible private nonprofit
organizations to repair or replace damaged public facilities.
- The two branches assist in identifying appropriate agency assistance
programs to meet applicant needs, synchronizing assistance delivery,
and encouraging incorporation of mitigation measures where possible.
Additionally, they track overall progress of the recovery effort, particularly
noting potential program deficiencies and problem areas.
- The Deputy FCO for Mitigation coordinates agency assessment of mitigation
program needs and begins to match Federal and State resources to meet
When a centralized Federal coordination presence is no longer required in
the affected area, the ERT implements the demobilization plan to transfer
responsibilities and close out the DFO. Recovery assistance program
oversight and monitoring then shifts back to individual agenciesí regional
offices or headquarters.
- After-Action Report
Following a disaster, the FCO submits an after-action report through the
ERT Information and Planning Section to FEMA Headquarters detailing problems
encountered and key issues affecting Federal performance. Data from
these issues and targeted reviews are analyzed and provided to appropriate
FEMA management for consideration. After a particularly large or unique
disaster operation, FEMA also may convene an interagency forum to identify
lessons learned. Each Federal agency involved is encouraged to keep
records of its activity to assist in preparing its own after-action report.